Alaska is Weird   8 comments

What’s the most unusual expense you’ve had?

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Well, let’s start by saying I’m ducking the finer point of this assignment. My most unique expense is not for public consumption. I’m a pretty honest person as a rule, but there are some aspects of my life that I don’t want to share and they involve other people and I’m choosing not to invade their privacy. Anonymity has its purposes and I choose to exercise them on this topic.

But —

Alaska is a weird, weird place, so a lot of our activities are probably unusual to folks in the Lower 48.

Typically, our summer spray-on insect repellent bill runs about $50.

We spend about $70 on ice when we catch our annual quota of salmon in Chitina.

I don’t know how many people buy sap taps and berry buckets – snow sleds with Kevlar glides for towing behind a snow machine – an electric chainsaw for cutting up moose – an Army poncho circa 1970 — saddlebags for our dog.

I own a personal body alarm. Not to scare away rapists – I have firearms for that — but to scare away bears. If you shoot a bear, you disrupt territory, which means you end up starting all over with a new bear that doesn’t know you’re scary. So, instead, we use the personal body alarm to convince the bear who hangs out on our cabin site that he doesn’t want to get too close. And once he’s learned that lesson, we want him to live a long and bearly happy life because training a bear to fear you is something you don’t want to do that often.

According to the IRS, an unusual expense might include a one-time charge for something – like the patent filing fee I paid for my husband’s utility patent on his advance in the art of heating.

Posted April 29, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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8 responses to “Alaska is Weird

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  1. Lela, I can’t imagine I’d need any of your purchases here in sunny Suffolk. I imagine you as some kind of wonderful pioneer lady out in the wilds!

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    • My husband would disagree with you. He wants us to live full-time out in the wilderness (well, the edge of the wilderness because our land is within sight — but not attached to — a highway), but I like running water and electricity. I also love the exhilarating feeling of getting out and spending a few days living rough and then coming back to real life.

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      • Ah, so not a total pioneer then? I’ve imagined you grappling with bears, sawing down tree trunks and building cabins, and protecting your property with the biggest rifle in the district!

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      • My husband once stood off a grizzly with a chain saw (he really wished he had a gun, but you go with the tools at hand). I do saw down trees. So far I’ve lugged in a lot of materials for a cabin that isn’t built yet. Our property is about a half-mile off the road and there’s a 48-inch century-old water pipeline blocking any road being build, so materials have to be moved in by snowmachine in the winter or by muscle power in the summer.

        And, I prefer the 357 (a revolver handgun) for bear protection, so we let the 20-year-old carry the shotgun. His sister was about 20 years old when she did shotgun duty after the bear-chainsaw incident.

        I do have a rifle. It’s called an SKS – it’s an old Eastern bloc rifle used in (probably) the Korean War. It’s built for malnourished Asian men, so it’s just the right size for me. It would probably just irritate a bear if I shot one, but it’s taken down a nice caribou or two. Those are like big deer. I’m confident enough with my SKS that I would harvest a moose (which are a LOT bigger than caribou) if I had a really good shot, but it would have to be close and a really good shot. I want a 30-06, but getting one cut down to my size is almost as expensive as buying the rifle, so I’ll settle for what I have unless I find one on the used market. None of the guns I own were bought new and none of them are less than 50 years old.

        Whenever I look at you hiking on the Isle of Wight, I think that might be my kind of place – for a visit anyway.

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      • Wow, you are definitely from pioneer stock! I always feel more at home on the Island, but my family are in Suffolk.

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      • So kind of rural and farms? That’s what my folks came from – North Dakota is all farms (and oil fields, these days, but not when Mom lived there) and Kent Washington was a rural logging town back when Dad lived there (now a suburb of Tacoma). They each came to Alaska for different reasons. Mom because her first husband was a wild man who didn’t fit into society in the Lower 48 and Dad because his first wife was a Creole and they had heard Alaska had outlawed racial discrimination, so they moved to Anchorage for the unrestricted housing and she started a business with his merchant marine wages. The restaurant she started is still going 65 years ago.

        I stay in Alaska for the culture – the live-and-let-live-you-can-hold-your-own-opinion-as-passionately-as-you-want-so-long-as-it-doesn’t-affect-your-neighbor’s-ability-to-hold-his-own-opinion attitude that just reduces social stress by magnitudes. But I also love the wilderness and there’s few other places in the US where you can live right on the edge of it and not have to drive half a day to enjoy it.

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  2. My father invented a device to check by phone (pre-cell phone days) and see if his furnace was working correctly when he was off on trips and no one was home. He decided not to patent it because there were similar devices patented but not on the market. Nowadays, there’d be an app for that!

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