siberian proverbs on the vernal equinox

it’s official – we survived winter. and, aside from the annoyances of frozen pipes, keeping fires going overnight, and bad roads, we had a pretty easy time of it.

to paraphrase my siberian friend – it doesn’t matter how tough the man is, but how thick his coat is.

i don’t think any of us were ever really cold this winter, due to these few things:

  1. down:

there is a nasty practice of live-plucking birds and we wanted to stay well away from this sort of thing, so all of our down came from patagonia, ikea, or used. i lived in this vest for 4 solid months before it was repurposed by delphi: 


cait and i shared a king sized ikea down comforter and each of the kids had their own. blankets were often frozen to the windows, the fire would go out, and the pipes would be frozen solid. yet, i can’t remember anyone ever waking up cold. i never had the need for it before, but now i know. down is pretty amazing.

2. fire:

we ordered a “little cod” from navigator stove works 2 years ahead of time. this was actually the first thing we did that committed us to the whole adventure. we ordered this before finding the camper or the property. the stove is very well made (on orcas island), though a bit challenging to get, and keep a fire going. bigger is always better, and this thing is small. being small is it’s point, but it does create a challenge.

we went through 2 pallets of north idaho energy logs . these things were really what kept us afloat and comfortable. one log would stay lit for 2-6 hours, depending on how hard we were running the stove . they’re easy to handle, with no real overhead – the wbc would drop them off for free, under the shelter with a forklift. at $225 a pallet they were more than wood, but not much more, and well worth it – no labor, 100% recycled sawdust, burn hotter and longer. i’m a fan.

3. socks:

my mother got me 2 pairs of bison down socks a few years ago. so hot that in oregon they would just make you swear. here, i lived in them all winter. especially slipping into a cold boot left on the porch overnight, these things were markedly warmer than very thick wool, and let me stay outside as long as i wanted.

4. gloves: 

after trying several different pairs of gloves that were either too cold or not enough dexterity, i found the polar penguins. i think fit has a lot to do with staying warm, but i can’t say enough about these things. warm enough to work for hours at 20F with enough dexterity to grab a screw out of my pocket. at 15F i’d get about 30 minutes before trading them out for a warm pair inside. at 10F i’d usually just call it a day and go inside for a cup of coffee. still, save a few particularly cold days, these things let me work all winter.

5. ears: 

when inside a small camper for hours at a time with small children, it’s always good to have some ear buds to drown them out. i just leave this pair on me all the times now and pop them in whenever a scream starts up. crucial for me to stay sane. i suggest for any parent, in any living situation.

6. oil heater:

we got a 2 plugin oil heaters. they look like radiators, but they are filled with oil. i’d never owned one before, and i don’t know how i knew they were the right thing for the back room, but they were. i have one sitting next to me in my office right now. they give off a slow but consistent heat.

7. fat:

(picture removed)

i drank plenty of beer to stay warm. it really works. i’m missing my brew operation, but there are some decent things around here. draught works scepter head is the driest/best i’ve found here.

also, we went to biga pizza every friday after our shopping trip and ate till we hurt. we’re lucky to be able to spoil ourselves like this and let our guard down for  a few minutes a week.

office progress

several posts combined here.


cait decided i wasn’t busy enough, and requested “a large rustic table.” so, i put together my very own ana white table: ana white table .

luckily this will match the ana white outhouse you may have seen in the first post below. we are now ana white saturated, and i feel this is at the very limits of my craftsmanship. ikea from here on out.

i got the window in my office:

i’m not going to say it will be waterproof, but i didn’t put an outlet underneath it, so i’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter. the window is facing due south, but if you crane you neck, and have a rare break in the clouds, you can just see the southern end of the missions. 

as noted before, computer-working in the trailer hasn’t been too bad because no one is here during the day. however, everyone will be here during the summer days and an in-house office will likely be the last thing to get finished. we’re also sorely missing space for freezers and bulk storage. so, i’ve been pushing through the cold weather, and i’m now pretty close to done. there is still a little drywall to hang, and it will probably get some siding and trim.i doubt i’ll ever mud it. laziness is a powerful motivator.

the back wall isn’t crooked. it must be your screen.

i was just going to go with a single door, but found the window and sliding doors from the rebuilding center in missoula on the cheap, both in pretty good shape. i’m pretty glad i did go with the slider as it is nice and light in the office, even if it looks a little funky. maybe it’s great looking. i can’t really tell yet. i’m just glad to be close to done.