Friday, April 12, 2013

I'm Proud of My Outhouse

I surely have one of the nicest, most women-friendly outhouses in Alaska.

For one thing, it has a door.  A surprising number of such structures lack this feature.  I don’t know if the reason is to increase circulation in order to reduce spiders and flies, or to provide a clear view of a bear approaching at one’s most vulnerable moment, but I insisted on a door.  So, for ventilation, I have two high, screened windows, and additional  vents under the eaves. 

An additional plus is that it is painted.  Most aren’t.  To increase the light load, I painted the interior a cheery, shiny, butter yellow.

Women invariably comment on the d├ęcor.  My outhouse lacks magazine pictures of cars, naked women, and animal carcasses tacked to the walls.  Instead, I commissioned two stained glass pieces (of Alaska flowers) from a talented friend to hang within the window frames.  They cast rainbows on the reflective walls. 

Whereas some outhouses just have a hole cut in an increasingly splinter ready plywood bench,  I demanded a real, wooden seat.   You don’t use that in the winter, of course – the wood conducts the cold.  This year, for example, the hoar frost on the inside of the lid didn’t melt until March.  Rather, during the cold season, we keep the seat pitched up in order to sit on a ring of polystyrene, which, by virtue of the air holes, feels, if not warm, at least temperature neutral.

The building includes no magazine racks or funny books.  Let's face it: the building is unheated and uninsulated, so visits tend to be quick and business-like.

Nor does it include potpourri.  Although, come to think of it, I do keep a smoker in there in the summer (to deter black flies).  I wonder if sandalwood would work just as well...

The final advantage is its size.  Compared to some elbow clinging claustrophobic versions I've had to visit, mine is a roomy 4 x 8 with a high ceiling.  It is big enough to accommodate shelves for relevant items, including a jug of water and tin cup in the summer, a cast iron hook shaped like a leaf to hang one’s mittens, and a bin of firewood ash for occasional cupfuls down the hole.

Some people are proud of their cars or their jewelry.  Since I have neither here, I’m pretty darn proud of my outhouse.



  1. Thanks so much for sharing your outhouse blog. I’m sitting here laughing out loud. All I have to say, is GOD definitely made you guys for one another! :-) As I’m reading about your beautiful stain glass windows, iron leaf hook and butter yellow walls, I’m visualizing how you’ve made the best out of something a lot of us would never try. I need to start reaching out of my comfort zone more. My friends daughter-in–law has started a internet company called “Why Not Girl”. It challenges women to try new things. You should post your Alaska experience on it. I bet if they were giving’d win 1st place!

  2. Laura,

    I just wanted to tell you that I ADORE your missives from Alaska!! I am surely your biggest fan and just wanted to let you know. SB, Houston, Texas

  3. Thank you for your posting on the UU Ministry for the Earth (, I think). I was unable to figure out how to leave a comment on that site, so wanted to thank you here. It is inspiring to hear someone talk about the highs and lows of living the values of simple living, vs. just ranting about some corporation. You help me be aware of my distance from the source or solution or whatever. Flush, flush.