Category Archives: Mat-Su Valley

Building a sustainable community

STOP drinking the damn Kool Aid!!!

I am not a “shopper.” I get 95% of my needs met at Costco. I pay them a quart of my husband’s blood and I am DONE.

(I just figured is 5% of his annual gross income. OUCH! Love You HONEY!!!)

Today, being 35 miles away from the nearest Costco, I cheated… I grabbed the few items I needed from another local food warehouse and Walmart.

I KNOW!!! Walmart SUCKS! But as a said…. I CHEATED!

It wasn’t worth it….and by the time I got home I felt horrible; frustrated and angry at myself.

I know I shouldn’t have done it. I should’ve waited until I went into Anchorage on Friday, then the Hubby and I could have done Costco together.


This is what I learned and what is currently plaguing my brain:

Our “pound” of locally roasted coffee use to be 14oz  and about $8.00, which I always thought was a crock and never bought. BUT…. this morning, its 12oz and approximately $9.00.

If I just did the math right that’s a 24% INCREASE per ounce of coffee.


Oh, it gets better.

So, I stop by Walmart.  They are the cheapest place to purchase……….


TAMPONS. *** Ok, I said it….let’s move on.***

Bare bones basic…..none of that fancy pretty stuff.

Those little puppies used to be under $5 a box….lets say $4.57.

This morning, $6.57. A 31% increase per ………………………tampon.

Are you understanding?

Do not believe what you hear!!!The economy is NOT gradually getting BETTER. Stop drinking the damn Kool-Aid.



******ok, if you don’t believe me….fine.  Just wait and see what happens when women stop being able to afford their coffee and tampons.******

Ya feel me now????










Permaculture: A Challenge

I stumbled upon an Alaska “permaculture” group last winter while researching arctic gardening tactics for spring. My first thought was…”um, you people are nuts!” bookmarked it and I moved on.

Visions of communal villages made from straw and steer manure with people huddled around a fire were dancing around in my head. Alaskan sensibility is screaming…”they’ll freeze their fannies off…what are they thinking? Those are the people you’ll read about in the newspaper.”

Well…January in Alaska is a VERY dark and lonely month. My husband works out of town a lot, so my evenings are often deathly quiet after “bedtime.”

What’s a girl to do with so much time on her hands?

Weeks later, I clicked on the link back to the website…I was DESPERATE!! I was searching for anyone I could have an in depth conversation with about advanced organic gardening.

My defenses were down I tell ya!! I swear!!

Most of my friends who are into growing things invest in an economy-sized box of Miracle Grow, turn their water blue and they’re good to go for the summer. However, early on, I read Teaming with Microbes and it made logical sense to me.  And being the person who escorts spiders back outside; I can’t do it.

The page blinked on and I read…and read, then…


I couldn’t help it, I tell ya, and the things people were doing with dirt…it was amazing!

I continued to “lurk,” finally setting up a profile…but that was it. For information and experience purposes only; I kept telling myself. It was on my computer, no one had to know. Right?

Until the night I discovered a Valley group was forming. The meetings set…on Sundays, twice a month, at 7PM. I was actually checking my calendar.

***husband out of town, he would never have to know***

Oh crap, here we go!! I was hooked! Do they make 12 step-programs for extremists?

I remember the night specifically, I was cooking dinner for the kids, my husband wasn’t home and I was lonely for adult interaction. Yeah, that’s it. We’ll go with that one.

I was trying to talk myself out of going. I HATE GOING TO THINGS BY MYSELF! Especially something like this, I’ll probably stick out like a sore thumb. Remember; true wallflower here!

But my inner bully was screaming…**Just go you IDIOT! If you don’t, you’re going to be stuck in this house all winter. By spring, they’re going to find you BRAIN DEAD and mothering on auto-pilot!**

So I went…me and my ginormous jacked up diesel, which you can hear coming a half mile away. Yay.

Walking into the room, I did get that intense stare, like the stage lights just spotted me. Faces around the room looked worried:  **Oh no…Stranger danger, Stranger danger!!**


For a person ready to bolt, I forced myself to try to find a happy little seat SAFE BY THE DOOR! Right? First problem, the meeting was in a yurt, the chairs arranged in a circle two rows deep… huddling in a dark back corner for me.

 ** My face is red, I’m desperately trying not to laugh in hysterics, my skin is tingling, my chest is tight…panic**

Out of the silence, the gal in the center of the ring suggests I grab a seat up front.

***OH! Yay, front and center!… I’m going to freaking pass out, I tell ya!***


I flipped the switch…

***”Suck it up, Nancy!!!*** my inner bully chastised me.

I drop my bag right next to her and, I assume, her husband and I dug in.

***Sit me front and center, I’ll show you, you’ll be lucky if I don’t take over the meeting***

(I see a multiple personality disorder diagnosis in my future…LOL)

Since it’s January, the topic for the evening is “Seeds” We discuss everything from starting, germination schedules, challenges of dirt, favorite varieties, types of lighting, heat/no heat, fertilizers, extending the growing season…and I threw down with the rest of them.  I caught a few looks of surprise from some faces when they discovered I knew what in the hell I was talking about.

***I can hang, damn it, I wore my “Jesus Sneakers” and everything***

Yes, it was January…and no, I didn’t go so far are to wear wool socks with them.

The hour passed and I survived. The evening ended with smiles, ‘nice to meet you,’ and we’ll see you at the next meeting right? I was still apprehensive, but relieved…happy and confused.  I met really nice people on both ends of the “greenie” spectrum; on one end, a gal just starting her own seeds this year and on the other, people composting their own human waste…commonly referred to as “humanure.” Apparently, it’s been a public practice in some places and has been going on for years.

Interesting, but not my style, however, it is literally reverting to an outhouse-style waste disposal system. Your cute little outhouse at your beautiful cabin in B.F.E…. with proper care should never have to be dugout or moved. YUCK! Everyone’s seen the commercial for that trusty box of microbes to put down your flush toilet to save on pumping your septic; part of the same concept.

Any who…the meetings are engaging; the members are very community orientated, which is part of the basic definition of permaculture and it’s a fit for me…the closet “permaculturist,” I guess.

Sue me….I’m a nut.

After reading an article in Organic Gardening Magazine (published by the Rodale Institute, which has been around for over 100 years) I realized most Alaskans are already halfway there.

Read it…you’ll see.

Note to my 5 regular readers…I will be on a hunting trip for the next few weeks, so if I disappear forever you know I’ve permanently communed with nature.


A day in my hometown….Palmer, Alaska

I drove to Palmer, Saturday morning. It was a beautiful day for wandering around the farmers’ market at “The Barn.” This would be my first time visiting this particular venue since I usually don’t make it over to that side of the Valley on weekends. New pictures for the new blog and fresh produce for my cooking pleasures would make for a productive day, I thought. However, while random thoughts rolled around in my head, I had an epiphany…more like a “catch phrase” popped up like a bingo ball.

“…it shouldn’t be community supported agriculture, what about everyone else? It should be “Community Supported COMMUNITY”

There are so many others too small to fit in the small business mold; more like a micro-business. The people who spend every Friday in downtown Palmer at the Friday Fling, or the new Wasilla Saturday Market, just on the verge of getting their product on the shelves of the bigger boys…the small business owner with a store front.

Of course then I was flooded with ideas. The step where sustainable living goes from home to community; why not a local blog supporting local business as well? A place for promoting a broad spectrum of local business; small business events, craft fairs, bizarres, true harvest festivals, home shows and the homeschooling fairs….but how? AND the farmers’ markets are on their way out for the season.

Well, I grabbed my new best friend…a small scratch pad made from reused printer paper and a trusty binder clip. :o)

(NOTE TO SELF: Confirm pages when printing a simple recipe off a forum. I realized the printer had been going forever as it finished page 26 of 29!)

With that, I started handwriting business cards. Yeah, I know, can’t get any more PROFESSIONAL than that. Right?

Pulling up to the old colony barn, I was surprised to see only one booth, but that booth that stacked high with a smorgasbord of fresh produce from Glacier Valley Farm.

I chatted with the girls, as I took pictures, realizing they were excited about my idea too. What an awesome way to start the day. After not being able to step away without buying my favorite buttery Yukon Gold potatoes, I headed into downtown Palmer.

I treated myself to a Raspberry Mocha as I wandered into the Palmer Downtown Plaza. Next stop…the Hot Hot Chocolate Shoppe for more pictures. I couldn’t help but snap quite a few.  I must say it is the cutest little boutique chocolate shop.

The whole store has a warm, indulgent feeling. Of course, the “feeling” makes you buy an Almond Mocha Truffle.

Maybe a ginormous marshmallow …

…then sneak away with it before anyone sees you eating dessert at 10:30 in the morning.

This idea of mine may add 10 lbs. to my fanny. Well, damn it, I might just have to take one for the team.

Then I popped into the “Best Deli in Palmer” per some of the talk I’ve heard; to see a family friend and the chef of the Palmer Downtown Deli…Mr. Joseph Bates.

Well, go figure, that man with all the ideas finally took the day off. That’s what I get for dropping by unannounced, I suppose.

Not wanting to bother the staff at Turkey Red I headed down to the Koslosky’s Center. All of the shops I stopped in to visit with were warm and welcoming, however because I caught some of the owners unavailable I don’t feel right about posting the pictures of their stores, just yet.

The last shop I popped into was Sidekicks. A store that I will find time to go back and wander through again before the holidays rush sweeps me away. It is such an imaginative place.

With bits and bobs displayed in such a fun, colorful way, walk-in the door and the place just squeals happiness.

I personally fell in love with a picture of a cow. Don’t ask me why, it just looked like a cow with ponytails and made me giggle…May have to go back just for her.

I can see my husband shaking his head now.

Down the street, I went, with camera around my neck and my handy dandy scrapbook tucked under my arm. Thankfully, it was filling up with everyone else’s business cards… and someone gave me a map. My problem; I know where I’m going, I just have no idea the names of the streets.

Ah, ha…a use for the map! OK, sorry, sometimes I’m a little slow on the up take.

A short chat with the gal behind the counter at Fireside Books and she scratched their info into my book.

A girl after my own heart; she was out of business cards too. I took a few pictures around customers and shagged fanny out of there before people started asking questions I didn’t yet have answers too.

My fabulous day in Palmer ended at my favorite store, Non Essentials. I introduced myself to the owner, Denise, while she was grilling lunch for her customers, maybe her employees on the sidewalk. She’s was very uplifting and excited about my project; telling me, I needed to have a conversation with the Mayor of Palmer and to visit the Dog Fundraiser over by Rusty’s.

Holy, the Mayor! Have I told you I am a truly introverted “wall flower” at heart?? Am I getting in over my head?? ***FEAR!!***

…moving on… ***smile***

Asking permission to take some pictures of the store, she responded with “…only the organized shelves.”

Oh my goodness…whatever…have you seen the place?

I love to walk in and be lifted away by the subtle scent of the day.  The store filled to the brim with almost any Alaskan product you may need from locally made mustard and honey to jackets and scarves.

Start wishing you could sample a few of the wares and a tray of treats seems to appear around the corner.

Denise puts together beautiful displays of color and uniformity, on balance with bits of whimsy.It’s a bit of fresh air for my perfectionist side.

When visiting, take a few minutes to gaze at her wall of tea, you will always find something to keep you warm on a cool fall afternoon.

Walking through the park at the Palmer Library, I stopped to talk to a few teenagers hanging from the tree. “Are you a tourist,” they asked

“Nope, I was doing the same thing when I was your age…bored out of my mind, hanging from a tree,  in Palmer, Alaska”

That gotta a chuckle. I don’t mind teenagers as long as they don’t skulk way from adults. That just trips my warning flags.

My day in Palmer didn’t end with the “good vibe” that had been pushing me forward all morning. I walked in too a small boutique type shop next to Rusty’s Restaurant figuring I would start there and work my way out to the garden into the fundraiser. Unfortunately, the cool reception I received from the employee took me straight back to those “teenage years.” She was completely uninterested to hear anything I had to say, so I thanked her and walked outside to the sunshine and festivities.

Stunned at the attitude of the clerk I barely talked to the kids at the front booth, only to hand them my slip of paper and I walked back to my truck parked at the Depot.

Raised in Palmer, I should know the extremely conservative and skeptical attitudes of some of the people…but not as an adult. Let me say, the drive home was not as fun as the drive out.

Therefore, first thing…. I did the layout on a set of business cards…maybe next time I should wear a dress.

More later on “The Afternoon of Redemption at the Wasilla Saturday Market”