Friday, January 30, 2009

Stori: Country mouse

Hello, my name is Stori and I live in the Alaska interior. It seems that I get the opportunity to meet people in very different ways, my friend Debi is a perfect example.

Like Debi, my life revolves around my family. My husband and I have 3 children, aged 15 months to 10 years. We live in a log cabin that we built ourselves. Right next door to us, on the other side of the barn yard, lives my folks, and just up the road a bit lives my brother, his wife, and their 3 children. All of us have built the homes we live in, and all of us have helped each other with the building of each home.

Between my parents and my little family, we have a small farm operation. We raise a small herd of Dexter milk cows for milk and beef, we farrow out several sow hogs each year for extra income from the weaner pigs and also meat for our family, and we have a small flock of about 40 laying hens for which we sell the eggs we are not able to use ourselves. I also have a couple horses (draft mix) that we use for riding, packing, driving, and general companionship. We pasture out our larger livestock on our land during the summer and free range our chickens when the weather permits.

We try to live as close to the earth as possible, which is hard sometimes since most of our ground is usually frozen solid. We grow potatoes enough to last us an entire year, till next season's crop is done. My Mom and I can and freeze all the food we are able from our garden and from nature. If berry picking was a sport, my Mom would be professional. We also hunt, but we use what we hunt, and only harvest what we can use. My husband is the mechanic of the family as well as a blacksmith.

Since we have no other neighbors besides each other, my family has become a community in itself. We each have our own jobs and responsibilities to our community. We each create and provide in our own way, even the kids. My community is not covered with concrete, but with snow and ice most of the year, and tundra the rest. I fear no robber or break in, but moose, wolves, and bear are very real dangers.

With all of this said, it is amazing how similar mine and Debi's lives really are at the base line, yet so incredibly different in so many ways.

Debi: Welcome to Our Small World

My name is Debi, and I met my friend Stori on the Internet about two years ago.

We are both deeply feeling women, both mothers, both intensely engaged in our families and the lives we want to build for them. We met online because each of us had a child diagnosed with a birth defect that, while destined to be outgrown, left us scared and searching for answers. We found that this tiny thing, a small detail in lives that would long outlast the problem that brought us together, was only one of many surprises we would have in common.

To me, that is one of the great benefits of the internet: that two people who would never, ever have met in the days before it, could share a moment in time where they'd have otherwise felt terribly alone. As Stori and I shared our fears, commiserated about what was happening to our babies and ourselves, we discovered that there were other things we had in common, things that still surprise us every day as we chat on messaging programs and occasionally on the phone.

Why should we be surprised? Because, on the surface, Stori and I lead completely different lives. I live in an urban center just north of Chicago, Illinois. Stori lives in rural Alaska. The rhythm of our days -- indeed, the rhythm of the very seasons in our parts of the world -- dictate tremendously different challenges, joys, and even basic patterns of daily living. It's easy to get caught up in what we've come to call the "City Mouse, Country Mouse" game: enumerating our differences and teasing each other for our tendencies to fall into stereotypes of the country hick and the soft city slicker.

In the end, though, common humanity unites us. Both of us love our children, love our spouses, have an alliance with decency and respectful consensual living, and are curious about what happens outside our own comfort zones. And we both believe that there are a lot of other people out there like us. So, here is our contribution to mutual understanding in the world: Country Blog, City Blog. Welcome!