Archive for August 2014

Black Soil   1 comment

I started this series with outhouses and now I’m ending it with an in-house outhouse.

Okay, technically they’re called composting toilets.

No, they don’t stink — at least they don’t when properly maintained.

Obviously this one is a manufactured model, but you can build your own and Alaskans often do.

Multrum toiletAre you shuddering yet? Most Lower 48ers gag at the idea of a compost pile in their house. But let’s face it, if the alternative is going to the outhouse at three am in 40 below zero weather, a composting toilet doesn’t sound half-bad.

The access for the compost is usually outside of the home.

And, yes, if it’s done correctly, you can actually use it on the vegetable garden.

Not that I would, not until it’s had a season or two of traditional composting just to satisfy my own shudder factor.

For the record, I live in a house with running water connected to a traditional municipal water and sewer system. I am a modern Alaskan who prefers flush toilets. My last post on the subject will be my memories of visiting a friend who lived one of these alternative lifestyles.

It’s all about how you deal with the poo.

Yes, I wrote that!

Why Celtic Fantasy?   Leave a comment

Daermad Cycle

I recently read an article about how European-based fantasy is ethnocentric and overdone. The writer lamented that English I speaking writers did not branch out into the other cultures of the world to mine their myths and history to base fantasies on.

Point taken. Europe is not the only culture in the world and other cultures present a rich, largely untapped resource for fantasy writers.

I based my main society on Celts. Maybe I was being ethnocentric. My own heritage is Irish, Welsh, Swedish and French-speaking American Indian. I mine the Celtic and Scandinavian cultures for the first book of the Daermad Cycle. At some point I may touch on the Wyndake culture. I hint that other Earth cultures exist in Daermad as well. If the Cycle goes long enough who knows where it will end up.

It’s important to know that writing what you know is good advice that…

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Posted August 23, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Going Grey   1 comment

There are people who cannot drill a well who can install a traditional septic system and leach field, but there are many people for whom that is not an option. The Goldstream Valley is notorious for lacking “perk” which means that a septic system will not work. And what do you do instead?

Well, you take a page from the motor home industry, of course, and install a grey water tank.

Grey water is that water which is used for showers, doing dishes and laundry. Because of the soap involved, bacteria isn’t an issue and after the solids have settled out, as you can see from the illustration, it can be retained for gardening. You wouldn’t want to drink it because it still contains particulates of phosphate, but it can be reused for other household tasks.

Of course, we all know that there’s more involved in effluent than grey water. My last post on this subject will be all about poo.

Yes, I wrote that!

Posted August 23, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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Can You Relate?   Leave a comment

Daermad Cycle

The Willow Branch has been through several revisions and I thought I was down to the fine tooth comb — looking for misplaced commas and the occasional typo.

Scott Butcher over on Authonomy is going through the book as I head to publication and suddenly he throws on the brakes. “Who the heck is Earnest?” he asks.

Earnest is Padraig’s pack pony. Sort of like Bela in The Wheel of Time, he’ll show up occasionally throughout the series. But here he is, several chapters into the book and Scott can’t recall reading about him before.

So, he reads back and, sure enough, Earnest has sprung up like a dandelion in an untilled field. “Who the heck is Earnest?”

I went back into my old versions and found where I described him and the sentient horse Joy, but that somehow got removed during one of the revisions.

Can you relate? 

This…

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Posted August 22, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Hauling Water on a Large Scale   1 comment

Forget about 5 gallon gerry cans. You’ve had all you can take of that sort of living. You install a water tank and admire its beauty. But it doesn’t do you any good empty.

Here in Fairbanks, there are a number of ways to fill that tank and few of them are cheap. It seems like every 10th truck looks like the one on the right. I’m willing to bet the owner of that truck is only hauling drinking water. That tank only holds about 50 gallons.

For serious alternative home water usage, you need something a bit bigger.

For example, the picture on the left.

People who use the truck mounted tanks generally fill up on their way home — because your water freezes if left in the back of the truck since lunch.

There are a number of places around Fairbanks where you can fill up such a tank. I’ve heard of people using the Fox Spring well, although I can’t see how as there’s no tap to attach to. Most people use “The Fill”. You pull up with your truck, you insert your credit card, it counts the gallons and charges you accordingly. It’s completely automated, except for the purchaser and now you have filtered city water in the back of your truck that you have to get home very quickly before it freezes. A friend who does this every month says it takes him from getting off work at 5 pm to about 9 pm to fill up, drive home and make the transfer. Needless to say, though they can shower every day, his kids do not take longer than 5 minutes under the stream.

Some folks really value their time more than their money, so they would prefer to have their water delivered. Someone got the great idea to resurrect the old concept of a water wagon and they named their business that. It’s so much less messy, they deliver it to your home and the water is city water that’s been filtered so it tastes great. There’s also a company here that takes out of the same aquafer as the Fox Spring well.

But it’s not cheap. It’s approximately twice what city dwellers pay for water.

And, when you run out, you run out and that can sometimes be in the middle of  a shower … though most people now have gauges that tell them when they reach a certain level and you can now get an app that will inform your phone.

But where does that water go when you’re done with it?

Posted August 22, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Was the Shooting in Ferguson Motivated by Racism?   1 comment

That’s what the article someone forwarded to me asked. I guess the European press thinks so and are back rehashing the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement as if they were yesterday. The comments were interesting in a disturbingnsort of way.

Apparently, if you’re white and you don’t think you’re a bigot, you’re protecting then white power structure. Pardon me for asking. Where is this power structure that it only available to whites? My kids don’t qualify for my Indian benefits, so maybe the whites-only power structure is paying scholarships for more or less white kids.

If you’re black and and you think rioting is the wrong way to go, the commenters claim you’re an Uncle Tom. What does that make Barack Obama?

I’m part-American Indian. I don’t know if the Ferguson cop who  shot that kid is a racist, but if all 2hites are racists, I guess he must be one. After all we’re judging people by the color of their skin nowmrather than the content of their character. The shootingncouldn’t possibly have been becausenthe kid was bull rushingnthe cop. No, minorities made no effect and whites are all Brahmins that the world just favors.

No, that’s not really what I think. I think that when you are violent toward others, you risk that violence being turned on you. I think peaceful protest is fine, but if you’re being violent, you give up your right to protests. I think there’s plenty of racism evident in black and Indian individuals and I think most whites struggle not to feel guilty for the racism of past generations.

I think racism is a really good excuse to avoid looking at yourself and holding yourself responsible for your behavior. There’s no white powder structure. Minorities have all the vrfeart scholarships and white male as aren’t even allowed an opinion on half the csubjects being discussed. The Civil Rights movement worked,but the race shills couldn’t make any money off the success so they had to keep the issuemgoing. A biracial man is President. Racism is limping if notmdead, except when a thug with dark brown skin bull rushes a cop with light brown skin and then racism becomes a really good excuse to break a store window and score a llat screen.

The Willow Branch Gets Updated Cover   Leave a comment

Oh, the joys of housekeeping before the big debut!
October is coming!

Daermad Cycle

It looked fine in the standard page size, but the red text turned out to look muddy in the thumbnail, so I’m improving it.  PS – I’m taking feedback!

Front Cover

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Posted August 21, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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