Chores ala Shishmaref

Today is Sunday. The beginning of the week. Chore day.

Some of the chores we have to do are usual. Today is our scheduled day for laundry. The staff all have a schedule to follow in order to equitably share the washers and dryers. When I used to rent my home, I used to basket up my laundry and drive over to the laundromat. Here, the basketing-up is the same. It’s the short hike over to the classroom which houses my assigned washers and dryers which is different. In the fall, the walk was over sand. Some Sundays, my walk is fighting against wind and icy temperatures. Today, my path was elevated by a few feet of packed down snow. Besides the venue, the laundry is the same laundry chore.

Most Sundays, I bake. This weekend, I baked more than usual. I always bake one loaf of bread. This loaf is for sandwiches to take for lunch during school. With only a few months of school left, I looked over what is in our pantry. It’s time to start using things up. I found bags of craisins and a can of pureed pumpkin. The aroma of pumpkin-craisin bread is now filling the house. There is bread available at the store, but the prices keep me baking at home. I’ve also come to really enjoy this chore and can see always baking my own bread. This weekend, I also made pizza dough. Again, at over $10 per frozen pizza, it’s cheaper, and fun and easy to make our own.

Every six weeks or so, we have to fill our water tank. We have a 300 gallon water tank inside our front door. A really basic electric pump sits next to it and pumps water into the kitchen and the bathroom sinks. We are really conservative with our water use so that we don’t have to fill it so often. As soon as it gets down to about 60 gallons, it’s time to refill. We are lucky, in the sense that we live right across from the school. There is an industrial-style spigot on the school porch that we run a hose from. The hose is long enough to cross the road and then is threaded through a hole in the wall and into the tank. We’ve got the whole process down to about a half an hour. Other staff members have to take a portable 150 gallon tank and fill it at the school and then take it home and transfer the water into their home tanks using a pump. A few of the lucky staffers have homes with “city water” which means they don’t have to deal with hauling water at all.

Today, the spigot on the school porch was frozen. It’s been hovering from 0 to 9 degrees. What to do? Simple solution…a blow torch quickly thawed the situation and we were seemingly ready to go. All right, one end hooked to the school and the other threaded into the tank, water turned on…and no water. Seems the last person who used the hose didn’t take all the water out, so the hose was frozen. Bring the hose inside to let it thaw and move on to the next chore…

Trash. We’ve waited a long time to dump trash. The last time we did it, we used the school truck and drove out to the dump. Now, the school truck is buried under a few feet of snow and will remain in hibernation until the spring thaw. Our dumpster is full. Jack had to locate the school’s snowmobile and sled. Once it was located, Jack and our friend Brian loaded up the sled with our two dumpsters’ contents and snowmachined out to the dump where they will burn it all. So far, no hitches on this chore. I’ll see what happened when they get home. The dump is an interesting place…there might be scavengers there…birds, foxes, or even a polar bear!

It feels good to have everything clean and filled. It was a beautiful sunny day. The house smells like a bakery. Life is good.

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