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Goodbye and Hello…


Looking back on 2011 with all its glory a few distinct moments stand out for me.

1. Buying a house, correction, buying a house that needed a TON of work and charging full speed ahead on things I never thought I would ever have to know how to do.

2. Winning not one but TWO small business start up grants, and working my way towards starting Bering Tea Co.

3. Getting my first ever 4.0 semester! Graduate classes at UAF have proven themselves to be fun and challenging.

4. Re-establishing waffle parties and meeting all sorts of wonderful people I never knew existed.

5. Discovering that Nome, AK is a place where anyone with a wild imagination and a little bit of elbow grease can make their wildest dreams come true.

Thank you 2011 for a wonderful time and a wild ride, we certainly appreciated everything you brought to us.

Dear 2012… You seem bring a lot of hype with you this year.  Friends are all ready preparing for the end of the world and there are big things in store for you. This year I am going to try to focus on enjoying the moments you bring me. The happy moments, the exciting moments, the dusty frustrating moments, the learning experiences, and the ever popular ‘what the heck am i getting myself in to’ moments. I will appreciate them all because 2012 is going to be Erin Margaret’s ‘Year of the Mindful Risks”. 2011 had a few small calculated risks… 2012 will have more, and they will be bigger.

My mindset for this year is: With standard morals and common courtesies there is absolutely no poor decision on this earth that can’t be recovered from with time and a little creativity.

best wishes, best of luck, and all the positive energy in the universe directed towards you 2012, I can’t wait to see what you bring.


Queen of my own planet…(or small business)


I have had many jobs over the past few years and many bosses, some good, some very not good, and a few that actually did their job! Bosses are important people, in theory they guide an organization, and a company towards success, by making sure everyone is working towards the same goal like one big happy family. In reality there are meetings, and advisory boards, and paperwork etc. etc. etc. that get in the way… I would like to here by issue a decree.

When I am queen person of the small business Bering Tea Co. The following things will not take place on or near the premisses EVER…

1. Meetings – meetings only work in theory. In reality they take up peoples time so that they may not do other important tasks. Meetings are often scheduled when people are looking for a way to talk about what needs to be done but not actually do it…. there will not be meetings at Bering Tea, ever.
2. Advisory boards – wait, wait, I have a brilliant idea. Lets gather up a group of people who do not work for this company, don’t regularly use its services or know the employees of this company, and have no industry experience. We will then hold ‘meetings’ regularly and ask them the how to run our company more efficiently… YES! (really? who ever agreed to such thing, madness!)
3. BS Paperwork – do I need to clarify this any further? it gets lost and it kills trees, enough said.
4. Calendars more than 2 months in advance – the truth is, I don’t know what I am doing next weekend much less a year from now, and when you ask me to schedule a meeting (here we go again with the meetings) for 6 months from now for an event that is not going to happen for another year I have issues. Especially because I know darn well its going to be rescheduled. I am going to take a rather buddhist approach here and say that I am going to do today’s work today. If planning needs to be done lets do it now.
5. ‘Chain of Command’ – just the phrase it self screams useless this is another one of those brilliant ideas gone wrong. Lets let up a system where only certain people are allowed to talk to other certain people, the very top chicken (who probably is never on the floor or working with the customers) will have complete authority over what is going on with those customers and there will be no way for lower chickens on the chain to talk to the top chicken about it… again… Brilliant!

All those being said there will be many positive things going on at Bering Tea, (tea, coffee, and health baked goods being number one priority) knitting, and singing and impromptu poetry from the stage. There will be plenty of music playing and experimental cookie recipes. Laughter and dancing and wearing funny hats will hopefully happen on a daily basis.
Anyone who would like to join me in being queen (or king) of their own planet is more than welcome to join me at 310 Bering St. any time. The shop will hopefully be opening in January and I can wait to see you there!

Green things!…


This winter, when I moved in to the Bering St. house, the only word to describe my new home was stark. The walls were white, the floor was the color of dust. the cabinets (those that had doors) were white. The thing I craved most was real live plants! Green living things to share my new home with. I scoured my cupboards for anything that might grow, checked boxes of last years gardening supplies for stray seed packets and even rummaged through the spice cabinet without much luck. What I came up with was alittle disheartining, but I was determined to make it work. I had a handful to dried chick peas, two dry peas, and nearly a half teaspoon of radish sprouting seeds!

I am proud to say that 3 months after planting all those things (in carefully selected broken tea cups from the thrift store) I will soon have my very own fresh peas!

The picture here shows the picture frame(also from the thrift store) with window screen stapled to it that I have been using as a makeshift trellis. If you look up towards the top of the plant all the way on the left there are two cute little future peas.

I have since aquired a few miriad of other house plants from friends who have left town, but these little peas hold a special place in my heart and I will keep cheering them on as they  grow.



Introductions have never been terribly complicated things. Many of us learn how to introduce ourselves over the phone before we join preschool, and when tasked with learning a foreign language they are often the first string of dialogue we practice.

Introductions almost always include a name (this seems obvious, but I’ll get to the importance of this in a second). Introductions can include an occupation or acquaintanceship, and occasionally a location depending on the situation. The typical introduction is benign, forgotten within minutes of being spoken; however an introduction can be a powerful three second insight to someone else’s world.

This weekend a friend of mine introduced me to her mother who was visiting from out of town. This friend and I have known each other for a few years and have similar backgrounds, her mother knew nothing of me other than I was a friend who occasionally gets storm bound and commandeers her couch for weeks at a time. The introduction could have included various tidbits of unessential knowledge including but not limited to where I work, where I live, how we met… the list goes on. This introduction was different. It was simple, it might have been a long shot, but it made me reconsider instructions as a method of communication and it went something like this…

“Mom, this is Erin Margaret…She is going to save the world”

It is true that my ultimate end goal of life if to save the world. I think this is a goal most people share.  But this was not just a statement of my life’s goals; this three second sentence gave me a brief look through my friend’s eyes. It solidified her approval in my dreams and instilled the confidence in me to look deeper at what I am actually doing here.  

My challenge for myself from now until forever is to change my traditional introductions into something a little more meaningful. Starting right not I am going to give it a shot.



Nome can be a  ‘gypsy’ community. Anyone who spends a short amount of time here can see the ware it causes on such a small town. People come and go, cars titles and leases change like the weather, and a good sturdy moving box can be a form of currency. With this comes a fair amount of variety. There are almost always new people to meet in Nome, and it is safe to say that only half of the people at your work place will be there 6 months from now. But all these changes have their cost.

There are periods in time, periods where old friends leave and new ones have yet to come in, where one feels utterly alone. Nome can be cold and barren and dark for long periods of time. There are times in the winter where you are stuck indoors distracting your self with crafts and music until the wind calms down to a point where you are no longer afraid to open your door; But this is only temporary and it is easy not to feel alone. There are times in the summer when it is 3am and the day light convinces you to keep hiking just one more mile or to catch just one more salmon, and although you may be by yourself it is easy not to be bothered by being alone when there are fish to catch and dogs to chase.

I feel most alone in the spring time.

When the weather is inviting and the snow holds a slight crunch under your skis it is easy to feel alone in the tundra. It is simple for me to pack my bag and climb a mountain or hike to an abandoned dredge. It is fun for me to snow shoe to the biggest drift on anvil and start to carve a fort in the snow, but for whatever reason when I take off my skis or put down the shovel the silence becomes piercing. The tundra is relentless for brining out loneliness. Even knowing I am only 10 minuets from a warm cup of tea and a town full of people, it is still possible to look out over the thousands of miles of barren tundra and feel completely alone.

That being said, a good friend of mine has taught me to value my loneliness. Any second it could all change and I might never again have these feelings. I have friends with small children and siblings in professional careers who may never have times where they are alone. Being lonely can be a right of passage in life. It has been known to make great heros and influence the greatest leaders, it has also been known to drive people mad. I am still not sure which of these will hold true for me;  But while I am alone, I will be happy.  I will cherish this time and learn from it and understand that in minuets all of it could change forever.

On Death…


I was recently asked to submit my thoughts on death, dying, and the after life for a friends senior project… My thoughts are not terribly insightful, but none the less this is what I wrote.

I know  my days as a human are numbered, from the day I was born to the day I die my life has been made up of a series of interactions. My life experiences, the people I associate my self with and the actions I take throughout the course of my life make up the entirety of my being.  I believe that our ‘being’ (some refer to as soul) lives on in the form of memories in the minds of family and friends. The people’s lives I touch are how I will make my mark in this universe.

I don’t mind if my name is forgotten the day I die. If every word I have ever written disappears instantly the moment I die nothing will really be lost. My actions will be remembered, even if my name is not attached to them. The children I have helped learn to read, the young adults I have taught to cook and sew and care for their families, and the elders I have shown kindness too by saying hello or visiting on a lonely weekday. It is my hope that my being will live on through these actions. I have no desire to be immortal.

A separate life after this one does not appeal to me. Going to some alternate place to live forever in eternal happiness sounds to me like something people would rationalize out of fear.

I am not afraid to die.

My body will eventually perish; slowly it will decompose and become nothing more than a pile of carbon and ash.  It will then be absorbed in to the soil, which happens with all decomposing things. That soil will grow grass or wheat, or here in the tundra it will grow berries and tea. Depending on where I die I might even become nourishment for a tree.

If only I could be so lucky to become food for a tree.


signing my life away…


Yesterday at exactly 5:07 pm I signed over my life and $1000.00 to our realtor. I put in an offer  on 310 Bering St. It is a 2 bedroom house with a 1 bedroom ‘auxiliary living unit’ above. It isn’t a beauty by any means, it has a hefty little pile of repairs to be done  before I can even move in. I completely expect this to be one giant mess of a headache clear through until  August.

Among some of the oddities of this house there are several things that  completely astound me.

1. the ceilings in the upstairs apartment are no more than 6 feet tall. When looking a tenant to rent I may need to advertise as “Apartment for short people” To be completely honest I have walked through the house with several people and have never noticed that the ceilings were so short until my slightly tall-ish home inspector commented. Apparently a 6 foot ceiling is blatantly not to code, but the fall under something called “Functional Obsolesance” which means it works and there is not a heck of a lot we can do about it, so it will pass for now.

2. When the previous tenants left they left the nearly new refrigerator, perfectly functioning stove, and a fair deal of furniture. However, they took the heater… hmm… priorities?

3. The back door does not have a lock. I understand that in a small community many people don’t lock their doors on a regular basis, but to have locking your door not even be an option is a little extreme I feel.

So from this point forward the dance begins. The offers, the counter offers, the who pays what, the escrow accounts, the trust funds, the contractor – fired contractor – new contractor – give up and do it my self game begins.

If you want to see the mess I am getting my self in to, Click here!