The End (of 2019)

I am so excited about 2019.

Notice I did not say I am so excited for 2019 to be over. Honestly, 2019 was an INCREDIBLE year for me. My dreams really came true this year. Bob and I officially started dating, even though we went to a movie together in November of 2018- I had no idea it was intended to be a date! We started working together. I’ve learned first hand that office work is not for me, but even more than that I learned I love working alongside Bob and spending the majority of our time together. This brought us to recognize our shared values and I moved onto the property and was able to become seriously involved in this growing season. And what an incredible job we did! We had such an abundance of food for ourselves we were able to sell left over produce to friends, at the farmers markets and local stores and business. In light of this new confidence we were feeling, we decided to go ahead and clear out more land for the growing season next year, and make this website.

Special delivery and drop off for our neighborhood friends

Bob bought me a refrigerator and the deal was done, we were married in the fall on Friday the 13th. We went on an epic roadtrip honeymoon where I unexpectantly but very happily became pregnant. Since then our days and weeks and months have been a blurr of thumbing through baby books and magazines, looking at videos and apps and really enjoying all the changes that are taking place now, and the ones to come.

we saw so many rainbows on our honeymoon- this was in Kodiak

Those are obviously just the huge “milestones” that have happened this year. It does not at all come close to all the smaller things that made these huge things possible.

We took a trip to visit my family in Missouri and rode roller coasters

I am a borderline obsessive documenter and list maker, and among all the things I documented I am really looking forward to sharing the list of books I read this year:

  1. It- Stephen King
  2. Tiny Beautiful Things- Cheryl Strayed
  3. The Shining- Stephen King
  4. Jonathan Livingston Seagul- Richard Bach
  5. Modern Romance- Aziz Ansari
  6. Blaze- Richard Bachman
  7. Memory- Stephen King (short story)
  8. 52 Weeks of Conscious Contact- Melody Beattle
  9. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing- Hank Green
  10. The Handmaid’s Tale- Margaret Atwood
  11. Needful Things- Stephen King (A book Bob gave me to win me over. It worked!)
  12. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew- C.S. Lewis
  13. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe- C.S. Lewis
  14. [Audio Book] Finders Keepers- Stephen King
  15. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy- C.S. Lewis
  16. The Daily Stoic- Ryan Holiday

I have been on a Stephen King journey trying to read his books and then watch the movies, something I have wanted to do since I was a child. Lately my time reading has been taken up with reading The Chronicles of Narnia together with Bob (and baby stuff!), which has been such an enjoyable adventure into lighthearted fantasy.  However, I find I am not listening to music much, the free time I have to listen to something in the car or while cleaning I have been consumed with Dateline- I want to listen to horror stories and look up the fact and details. I suppose I’ll always be a little sick and twisted. My hobbies have fallen by the wayside as well, now being consumed by pre-nesting and working out since I am finally not feeling morning (all day) sickness and have my energy back. This winter and new year, I am hoping to further embrace this role as a creator, the giver of life. I want to retreat deep into my being, curl into my self, and continue to creatively express life through my hands- knitting dolls, beading earrings, making food, reading books while I await for the most beautiful thing my husband and I have ever created: a living life out of love.

Almost Christmas

We thinned out the yard and have ourselves a Christmas tree

It is our first Christmas together and we are so darn lucky to have countless gifts. A tree with lights with gifts underneath, homemade stockings full of goodies, a warm home, happy dogs, and chickens that are still laying, a cat that is recovering from being singed on a candle while trying to get at the bacon grease, running vehicles that are paid off, and a job where we can work together and grow together. Life is good.

Making my first stocking

We went cross country skiing a couple weeks ago after a heavy snowfall, it was Savanna’s first time and she had a blast. The following day, a warm storm came through and melted the snow with heavy rainfall that flooded our road and nearby rivers. The way this winter is looking, it may be the only chance we have to play in the snow, and I am sure happy we took advantage of the opportunity.

If only the snow stuck around!

We have been working on finishing the house, which we have learned, can be very difficult when you live in it. I have been working on finishing a book I thought was done, and Savanna has been working on… well… things that are WAY more important than anything I am working on. A changing body.

What do you think about the new color?

We went out for pizza and a play the other night, Savanna in a beautiful red dress and me in a vest with a tie. An older woman commented on how lovely Savanna looked in her dress and how unfortunate it was that the children in The Nutcracker had worked so hard on the play and the majority of people showed up wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts. We have been going to every Bazaar we can find to support local artists, and it’s been quite fun.

Savanna at the Soldotna Bazaar

I didn’t know it was possible to be married to the best looking, awesomest person alive, but it is. And when I think that life couldn’t get any better, it does. Whether we have snow on the ground or not, it doesn’t really matter as long as I am with Savanna. Sometimes I sit in our candlelit home out in the middle of the dark woods and I wonder if pilots and satellites that fly overhead can see the radiant love and energy that must be beaming out the windows, because I feel it.

We planted this Austrian Black Pine the day we got married, September 13, 2019

In just over a week from today, we will open our Christmas gifts together and share in a newfound joy of celebrating another landmark.

We like to party!!! Nachos party!

Missing Summer Already

2019 Ninilchik Farmers Market

Is anyone else missing summer already or is it just me? As the days have gotten significantly shorter, so has my energy levels. We seemed to have done so much in the summer, and if the grass is greener on the other side, we seemed to have accomplish everything as well (although, if I think for half a moment longer, I remember so many conversations Bob and I had about how to make more time in our days).
Every month I get pictures from my phone printed off into a physical copy. This last week I got this picture, which has no doubt sparked my longing for summer- for the sun on my skin, the dirt under my nails, the time Bob and I spent working hard and sweating together, and the food we were able to nourish ourselves with.
Now that the season has changed we are having to adjust, adapt, find new ways to nourish ourselves. We sleep in, in our new luxurious bed, we read books and go for night walks, and we still make food. I am dedicated to bake more, bringing a little more warmth and coziness into our home this winter. I’m now feeding not just myself but this family we have created.

Bob and I baked these tonight
Husband, dogs, and cat approved

I may be missing summer but I sure am enjoying the change of season and the constant love and support from my husband.
Savanna Joy

Late Snow in November

A short lived snowfall.

November 20, 2019

Weather: It finally snowed enough to run the snow-blower around the base of the high tunnel, put the plow on the four-wheeler, and put studded tires on the car, but then icy rain arrived overnight and left an inch of ice on everything. Followed by warm (40 degree) weather that melted the snow and left only ice. Taking the dogs for a walk on the road went from a leisurely meditative activity to a high intensity, adrenaline rush. We risk our lives every step. And driving is hardcore! Temperatures are supposed to drop again in a few days and hopefully bring heavy snowfall so we can begin using our cross country skis. In the meantime, we have been staying warm and dry by the stove.

Savanna’s favorite seat, right by the stove.

Books: Savanna and I decided to read the Chronicle of Narnia Series together and we are more than halfway done. I just finished Pico Iyer’s new book Autumn Light, which was a real delight, and am rereading Deepak Chopra’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. We read The Daily Stoic every morning aloud and contemplate the message throughout the day.

Writing: I recently submitted query letters to 8 literary agents seeking representation for my first book, and I have been working on the second book to keep from going insane with anxiety. I could not ask for a more supportive wife, she encourages me every day to pursue my writing and I do the same for her. Let’s just say, we both write as much as we can. Savanna in her journals and me in mine. We also have a shared journal that was a wedding gift from her mother, it has been a really fun collaborative activity.

Farming: We are talking and thinking about what we are going to plant next season inside and outside of the tunnel. Looking into creating a spreadsheet with succession planting schedules, and focusing on ways to save time and energy with certain tools and designs. We are also researching Care Farms and 501(c)3s, and what steps we need to take to become one. We are drinking smoothies with our berries, eating too many potatoes and jam, and kind of avoiding the pickled products and dehydrated veggies. But they’re in the pantry (under the sink) and provide a good sense of security.

Love: We are growing together spiritually by praying together and attending church services on Sundays. Finding a balance in silence and conversation, both deep and light. Neither one of us are ready to dive into a church and become a member, but it sure feels good to hear sermons and reflect on them during the week. As the days become weeks and weeks become months and hopefully months become years, we are learning to trust each other on deeper levels and discovering the needs of the other person really aren’t unattainable. We cuddle every morning and evening in our new wool bed (Home of Wool), hug and kiss and hold hands dozens of times throughout the day, and provide space for each other to talk about things that need to be discussed. We are becoming less and less defensive and reactive and more understanding and accepting of the other person’s emotional complexities.

Savanna received her new social security card and new name!

Family: Savanna is officially a Stark! My brother is doing well in Anchorage with a few months of sobriety at a residential treatment facility. I am so proud of him! He was baptized the other day (I’m not baptized) and is really excited about pursuing a Christian life, going to college for social work, and helping other addicts. He has reconnected with his sons and is a role model for young folks in his treatment facility. He is writing a lot of letters and has decided to write a memoir. I am so proud of him! Both of our parents passed away, but they continue to live within. Savanna keeps in regular touch with her mother, father, step-mother, and 5 sisters. It is really impressive to see how well she keeps in touch with them all! All of whom live in Missouri! We are planning a ten day trip in January to visit them, and I can’t wait.

Sobriety: I heard somewhere that our addiction is constantly doing pushups, waiting for us to slip. And I do believe that addiction is a progressive disease that continues to get worse, never better. With that, I must work on my sobriety and recovery daily or risk falling victim to the strength of addiction. No thanks!!! So I started my day today with a gratitude text to a group of 4 guys who are also in recovery, dropping to my knees to pray, eating a healthy breakfast in silence then having a healthy discussion with my wonderful wife. I came to work and read about addiction online and watched an excellent video explaining the “whys” of addiction. I tried to attend a meeting but the doors weren’t open, so instead, I reached out to some people in recovery to talk about what’s going on with them. I drank a lot of water and spent time outside taking a nice walk in fresh air.

All in all, life in Happy Valley is going well. We are still working our 9-5 jobs as peer support specialists for people struggling with addictions for Ninilchik Traditional Council, and while it is not something I could do for a lifetime, (it is too emotionally draining, sedentary, and time consuming) I am honored and privileged to have a solid job with a great company that allows me to use my past to help others. Our dogs are happy and healthy, the cat is crazy and reckless (she burnt her paw on the stove), and the chickens have stopped laying.

Nala found a bone on the beach and went to town. Notice the slobber!? It’s crazy!

Last night I fell asleep at 8:30, after two mornings of waking up at 3:30 and not being able to fall back asleep, and instead of laying there upset I stoke the fire and go upstairs to write; Savanna made us delicious vegetarian quesadillas for dinner, cleaned the kitchen and dishes, prepared oats for my breakfast, updated her journal, and wrote me a love letter to wake up to.

I am so thankful for my best friend and wife!

On Sundays we take the truck to the beach to walk the dogs and keep the engine running. Savanna loves oranges!!!

Welcome to the Stark Family Blog

We are a couple of mad people who found each other and fell madly in love. We created this blog to keep our family and friends updated on our Alaskan life, and to potentially attract like minded people.

Both of us love to write, farm, learn, teach, travel, read, eat, take pictures, listen to music, and do various art projects. We will use our site to teach some of the tricks and tips we have learned, and continue to learn, and to network with passionate people around the world. We will post photographs, journal entries, recipes, links, and other random things we find inspiring and interesting.

At times our blog will be business oriented, other times it will be deeply personal. At times it will be full of joy and triumph, other times it will be dark and dismal. At times it will reveal our hopefulness, other times it will reveal our hopelessness. No matter what phase of life and emotion we are in, like all things in life- it will change.