Sunday, March 23, 2014

Slipping Past Purim into Pesach Preparations

 There's something special about coming into the springtime!  Spring is actually my favorite change of all of the seasons.  That old saying "Spring is in the air" has held true no matter where I've lived.  

Warmer days, more rain, more sunshine....this is the time of year when I can actually feel myself looking for a fresh start, a new beginning, and seek improvements in myself, my home and the weather.  

Here in Alaska, it's not the weather although I have to admit that temps like these here are becoming a thing of the past as we're more likely to see that needle more inclined to hang around the zero mark.  While we're not getting much above freezing at this point, anything above zero seems like a nice day to us.  

We can't really complain about the weather this year as we've seen one of the warmest winters ever since we've been here.  That needle did drop down real close to that "T" a couple of times, but nothing like we were forewarned could happen.  Everyone wanted to share with us the dreaded days of 70 to 90 below that has been recorded in this area in the past.  

Going into the winter for the first time in the Interior, we had to deal with some very real fears:  "Could we keep the house warm enough?  Would the electricity go off leaving us without heat?  Did we have enough wood pellets and diesel to survive?  Did we have what it takes to make it through a long, cold, dark winter on our own?  The answers are obvious as I'm here to make another post on our blog.

The greatest joy of springtime, however, is the advent of the spring feasts.  Purim is the wake-up call that Pesach is only a month a way and preparations for Pesach must start NOW.  The house must be cleaned and matza must be stocked up for the Feast of UnLeavened Bread.  The lamb or goat that we will have for our meal must be sought out and that's not always an easy task with our limited choices.  It's not like that's something I can just order on the internet like matza, eh?

The Scriptures must be read and re-read in order to determine what's leaven for us this year and how has our understanding changed on this after another year of Torah study.  We'll dig out our Haggadah from last year and check our notes for all the little things we'll need like bitter herbs and the makings of charoset (the mortar).  

On top of all of this, we have to consider whether or not this Pesach finds us prepared to face the Greater Exodus or have we been given the blessing of another year to refine our plans and preparations.  As we've moved another year closer to the return of our Messiah and King, we have to stop and ask ourselves are we more ready than we were this time last year.  

AND, as we watch our cat lie down and play with our dog, we have to wonder what it will be like in the Kingdom when the lion will lie down with the calf.............


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Moving Up to Four Wheel Drive

One of the first lessons that we learned in our first winter in Alaska was that although we loved our Ford pick-up and it was great at pulling our rig wherever we wanted to go, two wheel drive just wasn't going to make it for getting around in the snow and ice.  

We made it through our first two winters by using chains and limiting our driving to just around town, but that was a bit frustrating and dangerous. More than once, the chains would work their way loose and even managed to slip off a couple of times. 

The situation became even more troublesome when we found ourselves moving away from the "Banana Republic of Alaska - Homer" to the Interior where the weather and the snow was known to be far more of a problem.  There's no way to avoid having to drive many miles on snowbound and/or icy roads let alone the basic challenge of getting out of our own driveway to get to the road.  Staying "home" all winter just wasn't going to be possible or all that practical.  While the internet helps a lot in creating lots of ways to buy simple necessities, it still requires a trip to the post office to complete the deal.   

SO, we decided that it was time to look around and find a four-wheel drive truck to add to our family.  There was never a question (in my mind, DannyLee is a little more open-minded on this issue) that we would buy another Ford and since we already have a diesel and like our diesel truck that we would look for another diesel engine.  

We originally started looking for another 7.3 liter engine, but the age factor and their popularity along with the fact that we already had one made us look for a newer model.  The cost of trucks these days is outrageous and they seem to be holding onto their value as the newer trucks become even more expensive and extravagant.  

In the end, Elohim kept this truck before us until we were ready to buy and this became the one that we drove home.  You can see that washing the truck has not yet become a priority as it's not as easy as rolling out a hose in below zero temps.  

The first modification that this truck required was the addition of two more heaters on the batteries and the transmission to ensure that it would start when we needed it.  We have a great mechanic that knows a lot about trucks and is very familiar with ours as DannyLee is keen on preventive maintenance.  

The last (hopefully, for a while) modification was the installation of our new Sparebumper.  I learned about this little safety device on one of the Ford forums and I just had to have one.  Tailgaters and careless parkers are high on my list of "pet peeves" and this little addition is supposed to be a deterent to both.  I hope that we never have to fully find out how effective it is, but it's there if we need it.  (Thanks Jeff!)