Living large — Family takes charge of priorities with change of premises

Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce, by Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter

“Your house is how big?!?”

I love to watch the look on people’s faces when someone in our family casually mentions the size of our home.

Sometimes I think we do it on purpose just to see the reaction. I admit I’ve done it.

The most common expressions are a mix of stupefied and a twisted sort of sympathy.

My personal favorite is the rare look of awe, followed by the incredulous and obvious question:

“How do you do it?”

Before I answer I like to add that besides my husband and myself we have a teenaged son, two German sheddards and a fluffy white cat with an attitude. It sort of sounds like part of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” only not a version most people would welcome as a gift.

Some responses lead us to believe that perhaps our new housing situation has elevated us to the status of being real Alaskans — little log cabin, woodstove, bear rug, cast iron fry pan, sourdough starter and all.

Other comments lead me to believe we are now viewed through a pair of John Lennon, “All we need is love” and a recycle bin rose-tinted glasses. And by some type of time-warped viewpoint we are now trendy-edgy environmentalists, individuals who are brave and altruistic enough to embrace the tiny house movement.

That’s right! Sprout eaters living small for greater greener good.

I do have sprouts growing on my windowsill, plus the whole Alaskana thing going on, as well, but we don’t really care how we are seen. I like the idea that it’s not my/our business what others think — although it is downright hilarious sometimes.

Way back when my hubby had more hair and we had much less common sense we lived in a cabin, and we needed a boat or an hour’s walking time to get there. It was one of those best of times/worst of times deals. Mostly it was the best of times.

So when I announced, “I have an idea,” my man knew there was a move at least a little away from the burbs in the near future.

I am not writing about hunting or fishing today (the seasons aren’t currently open). I’m writing about grounds for staying close.

Not having cable TV, a home phone, respectable Internet connection, an extra bathroom or basically anywhere to hide from each other as a family has some distinct benefits. We have definitely learned to communicate clearly. As in, “I’m going to shower — pee now or forever hold it.” We have learned to dance around each other as if choreographed in a 3-by-7-foot kitchen. We have all learned how to play cribbage (I usually win). Good books have a higher-than-ever value, and since laundry must be performed at a paid facility we have shrunk our loadage impressively.

Thinking back to our old house I have to laugh at myself for not having friends over more often. I thought it wasn’t big enough. How ridiculous. We’ve fit the whole fam-damily in here several times, with friends, as well.  All and all we have five chairs — three for us, two on the porch for company and laps for the family. Nobody dies of asphyxiation.

Our house is how big, people want to know?

Three hundred and fifty feet.

Hey, I saw that look!

Yes, it is small. And for now, it’s just right.

My great grandmother had 19 children. I remember her saying there was always room for more. I don’t remember how big her house was, but I do remember the closeness. I feel like we have achieved that kind of closeness.

That’s a good thing, as we are expecting another grandbaby soon.

  • Grounds for Divorce No. 3,479: Calling wife “Granny” and encouraging the kids to do the same.
  • Grounds for Divorce No. 3,480: Insisting “Granny” has some more of that tasty bread and butter because now she’s eating to have room for more on her lap.
  • Grounds for Divorce No. 3,481: Not announcing an impending shower when wife has to pee.
  • Grounds for Divorce No. 3,482: Being a sore looser at cribbage.
  • Grounds for Divorce No. 3,483: Rolling one’s eyes when wife announces she, “Has an idea … .”

Jacki Michels is a freelance writer who lives (and loves) in Soldotna.

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