pictures! (one more time, with feeling!)

Posted in Uncategorized on November 29, 2008 by phoenixtree


Future glass doors leading to future deck accessing future garden!

Future glass doors leading to future deck accessing future garden!



considering the speed at which the gang are getting this place up, these pictures (taken less than 24 hours ago) are probably already out of date.  I’ll update more as I can!




Posted in Uncategorized on November 28, 2008 by phoenixtree

Every so often, someone else says it all for you in their writing.  our very own EY – the brains behind the Phoenix Tree House (and the reason I still have some small grasp on sanity) is also a phenomenal writer.  He told me this essay was initially a response to a relative asking why he lives here.  so to allmy friends and family who want to know why I live here, and what i’m thankful for (this year of all years!) just ask EY.  (by following the link)


Happy Thanksgiving from the Menaces!


Posted in Uncategorized on November 28, 2008 by phoenixtree

once these guys get started they go fast!

the pictures are sideways only because wordpress hates me.  they are not sideways anywhere else.  (I’ll fix them later)

pictures now, more thoughtful stuff later.


Posted in Uncategorized on November 6, 2008 by phoenixtree




GUESS WHAT guess what guesswhatguesswhatguesswhat?????


Menace 2 and I arrived home last night to great piles of House all over the yard.  How exciting!

Cataclysm #1 greeted us with a very fluffed tail and bad case of the nerves that lasted until after I attempted to salve her ego with tuna.  She fears change.  She especially fears change that involves large pieces of noisy equipment.

Cataclysm #2, however, has claimed the boom truck as his new perch from which he can survey his grand empire.  He will mourn when it leaves.

so our current status is something like this: the panels and related “stuff” have arrived (O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’) and the boom truck is in place.  We dont have a “date” yet with those who know what you do when you cross SIP panels and a boom truck, but it’s likely to be soonish.  

yes, definitely soonish.  

Meanwhile, Menace 2 and I have moved back into the new tent (named “the Phoenix Nest” because it’s way too nice to be a Swamp.) since Halloween and are comfortable.  We’ve even had nights below zero (F) with north winds and the worst was no colder or draftier than staying in the Fairview anyway.  We’re recently added a new carpet which helps marvelously.

and honestly, there’s just no place like home.  Even if home is a small wall tent in the woods in the Alaskan winter.  We’re happier there.  it beats couch surfing.

and hey!  we’re working through the Library’s collection of Jeeves and Wooster in the evenings.  that’s quality family time, there.


And as a final thought, I’d like to point out that while we joke as a village about living on “Talkeetna Time” and certainly “Time”, as a general concept, is much less concrete a concept than it might be in places like New York or even Cantwell – isn’t it interesting that the Brother-In-Law and his cohorts at The Building Supply Company Who Shall Not Be Named have redefined Talkeetna Time, even for us.

I say Talkeetna Time is nothing compared to… let’s call it Spenard Time.

but hey, we have stuff and as far as I’m concerned, 3 months late or not, we get to move forward!  W00t!

with love, and armed with random piles of sandpaper and drill bits and paint cans,

Menace Leader

It wouldn’t be a project without a few SNAFUs, right?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 13, 2008 by phoenixtree

Just a quick update for those wondering:


there were some major mistakes made at the SIP dealer.  (I won’t name names but suffice it to say Stupid Boneheads Suck.)  while we were told that the SIPs were in production, and even later told they were in transport, it turns out the factory had never received the plans.

oh, bad bad bad.

EY has raised enough Cain that they’ve been very communicative, and said they are “expediting” the process; but he told them he’d hold his applause until the end of the show.

no joke.

I think they should swallow their profit and the shipping, also.  But I’m not going to unleash my temper in this case because when my ‘tude kicks in I almost always make things worse.

So, where are we at?

  • septic system is in and lovely
  • well is in and the drillers say it is a lovely, fast flowing well.
  • electric is at the property and we have a tent with fridge, microwave, and an electric radiator.
  • the foundation is done and awaiting a house to keep it company.
  • it sounds like the latest arrival time is around the end of October or beginning of November.

For the worry-warts: yes, winter has hit and yes, it’s snowy.  our new tent, with all the bells and whistles, is warm and dry and we’re still quite comfortable.  Also, after the 16th we have another option of a place to stay for 2 weeks if it gets uncomfortable.

so don’t worry!

I figure this is all great materials for either my memoirs or Menace 2’s future therapy sessions.

Menace Leader

We Have Indoor Plumbing! Still Awaiting the Indoor…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2008 by phoenixtree


The Nerve Center of our High-Tech Command Center

The Nerve Center of our High-Tech Command Center

Apologies to all for the long delay between this post and the last.  I don’t have internet living in The Swamp, of course – but I do have access elsewhere.  I just don’t often have the time to compose something lucid.

Well, lucidity is overrated, I say!  and I owe you all some news.


As of this coming Tuesday, it will be four weeks since we moved into The Swamp, and the only fatalities are an army of voles and shrews.  (the cats have declared a jihad on rodents, I believe.  For those of you who consider the lovely Tamiasciurus hudsonicus to be public enemy #1 – I’m afraid my little Weapons of Mouse Destruction don’t agree.  Sorry.)

in the last weeks we have made some great scientific discoveries.  One of which has to do with how heavy rains and cold weather can cause mildew to grow on everything, including your attitude.  


We have tried a number of different lighting arrangements, and find the rechargable LED coleman lantern to be the favorite for full-Swamp light, while plain old candles and hurricane lanterns are best for reading.  For the first week, we had only our wind-up flashlights for night reading, which led to interesting evenings.

Silence and darkness, with three small pools of bluish LED light.  Suddenly, the silence is broken by the rhythmic Whrr-whrr-WHRR! of one winding as fast as possible so as not to go cross-eyed during good battle scenes…

lanterns and candles are much better.

We have a septic system!  it’s big and beautiful and remains unsullied.  the construction was loud and caused the Cataclysms to become scarce for a day, as the Menaces geeked out over cool machinery.  Manace Two ached to drive the excavator, saying it was his Robotech Mechanoid and he had to pilot it!

They cleared a lot of ground that I understand I am not  to turn into a garden despite the great fertilizer potential, so I’m now planning how best to use the space.  I think I have it figured out, but I won’t discuss it here until I check with those-who-know-about-such-things.

We also have electricity!  Well, almost.  it’s so close… the power pole is in at the corner of the property, and the temporary meter is there.  all we appear to be lacking is juice.  Grumble.  But it’s not far off, and I am so excited about REFRIGERATION!  W00t!  

Current status – the SIP panels are even now on the factory floor, becoming the Phoenix Tree House down there in Civilization somewhere.  The well almost happened, but the equipment died on the way here, but I’m sure it will come soon.  I haven’t ordered the phone line yet, because I haven’t paid off my old phone bill yet.  soon!

Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend check, come on down!

We have had a donation of a lovely Earth Stove, I’m very excited about it!  it’s the perfect stove, in perfect condition, the perfect size, and of course the perfect price.  Otherwise, I’m still in hold-mode for the other inside-the-home stuff, partly because I really feel like I can’t make big decisions on purchases of new stuff before I am in the place and getting a feel for it.

There’s no rush there.


Menace One leaves the Swamp for parts Southeastward in two days – then there will just be Menace Two, the two Loyal Doggerels, and the 3 Cataclysms.  One of the many adventures Menace One will be making includes an apprenticeship as a bike mechanic.  I’m excited!  For him, of course.  (but also for my bike)

our next update will be soon, I promise.  I’m already planning the introduction of one of the Cataclysms in his very own debut blog post.

love and stuff (and here’s to dry weather!)

Menace Leader

volunteer and donation opportunities

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 21, 2008 by phoenixtree


When we finished erecting The Swamp, the sky helped us celebrate.

When we finished erecting The Swamp, the sky helped us celebrate.



it’s always weird to say “opportunities” – more like, “how you can give ’til it hurts…”

no hurting allowed.

Still, lots of people locally (and a few out in the Big Bad World) have asked how they can help.  Whenever I’m asked while on the hoof I can never think of anything.  it’s when I’m at home, sleepless, worrying and making mental lists all night that my long “needs” list appears.


So here it is, my current list of help and stuff desperately needed.


  1.  Volunteers!  I’m compiling a list of people to call for when it comes time to build.  we’re going to do a good old fashioned house-raising when the SIP panels arrive.  Volunteers will probably need their own tools and I’m not even sure what those particular tools will be, but I suspect a hammer is a good start.  more info on that later.
  2. Food!  during the house raising I want to keep all of the volunteers well fed with warm food, as it will likely be pretty late in the fall.  (bonus – no mosquitos!)  prepared meals would be great.  if you want to help either as a volunteer, a chef, or both – let me know, I’m making a little list… 
  3. Stuff!  okay, okay – more specifically, for the actual house and the construction:
  •   small wood stove – I really dont want one that’s too big because the house will be small and I hate spending my winters trying to stifle a wood fire and living in 90 degrees.  blech.  Used is just fine, I’ll clean and recondition as necessary.  Free or low cost, let me know what you have.
  •  kitchen stuff – propane cookstove, sink, used cabinets.  I’ll happily refinish, so it’s okay if they’re ugly or mismatched.  and I want lots of cabinets to try and make best use of the small floor space.  I have a fridge and a chest freezer large enough to hide a couple of bodies, so I’m set there.
  • bathroom stuff – toilet, sink, shower stall, tiles.  I don’t think I’ll have room for a tub.
  • building stuff – plywood, 2x4s, 2x6s, drywall, sand paper, scrap lumber… I’ll take whatever you have!
  • tools – of course I have most of the small, cheap kind of tools.  I need power!  I need a chainsaw, a cordless drill and selection of drill bits, a circular saw, a mitre saw, and a reciprocating saw. I also could use a snowblower (trying to plan ahead!) and I’ll really need some saw horses. I know these are not cheap and chances are I’ll be buying them.  But, if you happen to have old ones that you never use, or know of someone thinking of donating theirs to Sally’s, call me!  I’m a hopeless mechanic, though, so if you have something that “needs a little TLC” chances are it will just Rust In Peace if you give it to me.
  • ladders – there will be two small lofts, one for each Menace.  I need loft access ladders.  I can build my own if necessary, but not without the tools and the lumber.  (you see the problem…)


before the construction, I need a few other things and some help, also.  This is the “right away” stuff:


  1. a chainsaw, and even better someone to operate it!  I have a lot of downed trees that need to be cut up into stove-sized rounds.  I also have a few trees that need to come down before the house goes in, either because they will be windfall risks in the future or because they are already standing dead.
  2. a digger.  Either someone with a backhoe in the Woodpecker neighborhood or someone with a shovel and lots of energy.  We need an outhouse!
  3. Pallets!!!  The Swamp needs a floor, as does the storage tent.  I also need pallets for the construction of a wood shed, the outhouse, and for a compost bin.  This adds up to many pallets.  and if I get too many, I’ve found a wonderful set of directions on how to make a bench out of pallets.  So everywhere you go, ask for them!  please!
  4. Plywood. needed to finish the temporary “floor” in The Swamp.  I want to put down pallets and plywood over the top, so we’re a little protected from the damp of the ground.
  5. A Post Hole Digger.  The hand tool variety is fine, and I just need to borrow it for a few.  trying to get a wood shed and a few other things erected before the house build date.
  6. Tire Movers!!!  This is critical.  We have these huge tractor tires the boys use as a playground of sorts.  I need them picked up and moved to the property as soon as possible.  Now, they’re extremely heavy – this requires something like a forklift or at least the high school hockey team.  Please, if you can help call me ASAP!
and we still need donations for the money to finish the place, do the foundation, drill the well… all of that important stuff.  I’m going to investigate how to get a Paypal account for the Building Fund, but until then you can email me and I’ll put you in touch with the trustees of the Fund.  I don’t want to publish their information all over the web!  if you wish to be anonymous, that’s just fine!  but it will have to wait for the Paypal account.  Hold that thought!
Meanwhile, anyone and everyone, email me if you think you can help.  This is a big job and I need all of the help I can get.  
more updates to come.  and I promise to keep the pictures coming!
Menace Leader
Phoenix Tree House
Brave Huntress Blends Into Boreal Savannah...