Bob’s Version: Day 50 Homestead

Homestead Day 50 Thursday 10/09/2017

Spent my first night in the house. Summer had moved in over a week ago but I couldn’t get to my bed in the cargo trailer hence sleeping in the camper. I was a lot warmer when I got up this morning, in fact, I had to shed the comforter off the bed last night because I woke up perspiring. Sitting here now drinking coffee and lining up my days work. It is snowing small flakes that are unlikely to last past tomorrow except in the shaded areas.
* First thing on today’s agenda is rounding up all of the tools and materials that have been scattered about. I have in the past been good about putting these back where they belong. Up here I seemed to be a little less disciplined in that regard. Well, morning coffee is over and the work begins.

  •  Had a stainless steel table top that I’d bought years ago.  Decided to put it on a cabinet as a prep table.  Summer has wanted to do that for years.  After four attempts to fit it onto the cabinets I brought out the big guns and cut the cabinet six ways to Sunday.  The SS table top now fits the cabinet.  Summer now has the prep table she always wanted.
  • Next project didn’t get started until Summer came back from town.  We replaced the 18′ cabinet with a 30″ to move the stove over 12 inches.  This enables the looking into the oven without doing some contortionist moves.
  • During the rejiggering of the cabinets and stove we had to move the plumbing.  It was a pain in the arse.  Luckily, we were using PEX which made the job somewhat easier.
  • We are not simply making the kind of progress that I had hoped but we will have a fully working kitchen as soon as we get the counter tops.  Everything is in place to become normal people in the sense that we have all of the amenities of civilization i.e. Flushing toilet, bathroom vanity,  kitchen sink, refrigerator, stove, garbage disposer, dishwasher and heat.  Normality is a wonderful thing.
  • Today was a good day and we got a lot done.  Temp outside got up to about 32 and as I writing this it is down to about 18.
  • Dinner was Potato Soup.  No too crazy about soup but anything that has potatoes in it is okay by me.  It was very good on a cold evening.

Bob’s Version: Day 49 Homestead

Homestead Day 49 10/08/2017 Pictures and video at

Arose this morning to full daylight which means that I slept until way past 9:00. It was after 10:00 am when I made the coffee. I’ve been sleeping 10 hours at a whack ever since we got to Alaska. Not sure that this is a good thing. After getting properly coffeed up I went to work.
* I moved a bunch of crap out of the way and put down another sheet of plywood. Then spent two hours getting my upper body workout and my cardio by scraping 35 year old tile off the floor. It was a mess. The broken tile had to be shoveled up and bagged. Can’t fill a bag because it would weigh in at about 300 pounds. Had to use 3 bags too get it all off the floor. Once the tile was cleaned up I put down another piece of plywood.
* Moved the refrigerator to where it will live permanently except it is still connected to an extension cord. When I was designing the kitchen, I had planned for it to be in front of a receptacle. Big problem the redesign left it with no receptacle. This led to the next project.
* Moved the refrigerator out. Located the height for the new receptacle from the one I had planned to use and cut a hole in the sheetrock. Installed the new box and ran wire from the existing box. Problem solved. Life in the fast lane.
* I keep getting distracted by the view. Snow capped mountains, glaciers and Katchemak Bay. Have the same problem driving. Living here is a dangerous business.
* We still have some snow in the shady places left over from earlier in the week. Temp this morning when I left the trailer to go to the house was 18f. Later in the day it was up to about 35 which is short sleeve shirt weather. Summer and I both were outside working in tee shirts. With no wind and low humidity, it was quite comfortable. We were laughing about how people from the lower 48 would think we’d lost our minds.
* I have, at long last, been able to extricate my bed from the cargo trailer and put it into the house. I will, at last, be able to sleep in the house that i’m working my arse off to repair. Got my own bed back. Whoopee!!!! The travel trailer bed was quite comfortable but inconvenient. I can now toddle off to my bed upstairs and lie down. IT HAS BEEN OVER THREE MONTHS SINCE I SLEPT IN MY OWN BED and now I get to say my prayers next to my own bed.
* I have few regrets in my life. I wish I had spent more time with my children when they were young, I wish I had told Connie how much I loved her more often and I wish I had moved to Alaska 30 years ago. Unfortunately you can’t fix the past so the best you can do is attempt to do better in the future.
* Dinner time. Flank steak atop a nice big salad loaded with tomatoes, onions and all manner of good stuff.

Bob’s Version: Day 48 Homestead

Homestead Day 48 10/072017 for pictures and video.

Ran two heaters last night. Got up this morning with the smart one telling me that it was 41 degrees in my trailer bedroom. Miss Suzy and I were less than anxious to roll out of our warm bed. However, the call of nature forced us up. I got dressed and grabbed Miss Suzy and her food bowl and head post haste to the house. Every day it’s two trips to get Suzy and myself to the house and then two trips back to the trailer. Tomorrow I’m moving into the house. It is a helluva lot warmer in the house and I don’t need the exercise running between the trailer and the house 4 times a day. Coffee as per my usual routine. a little catch up on the news and then to work.
* Cleaned up the area and moved things back in order to install some 1/2 plywood on the floor. I am bound and determined to get a working kitchen by the weekend. With three sheets down I was able to move a couple of cabinets and the gas stove into place. We’ll be lightly sanding the cabinets and painting them later but for now just getting them into place seems like a major victory.
* Converted the stove from natural gas to propane. This used to be a lot harder than when I first into the appliance repair business with Fred and Barney. It was easy enough until I got to the bake burner. SAMSUNG decided that it needed to be virtually inaccessible. Not only that they left some factory sharpened edges so that I cut myself twice trying to finagle the new orifice into the valve. The first six orifices took maybe 30 minutes the fricking bake orifice almost an hour. Some intensive cursing ensued during the process. When I was in the Navy I learned to curse for 10 minutes at a time without using the same words twice. My vocabulary is not so large now and I’m not nearly as facile with the vocabulary that I still possess.
* Removed the food prep from a dining table to a piece of sheetrock placed on top of a cabinet. Moved the Coleman propane camp stove onto the new Samsung stove so that Summer could say that she was cooking on her new stove.
* Miss Suzy seemed more needy today than usual. Miss Suzy was wanting to be held constantly. When she gets like that I worry that she is sensing me about to kick the bucket. She was my late wife’s service dog. She could sense Connie’s seizures before Connie had them. So a dog this sensitive wanting to be next to me constantly is concerning. Haven’t checked my blood pressure in months and have decided I just don’t give a damn. Worrying about it likely raised it. The functional equivalent to ‘White Coat Syndrome’. However, when the 6 pound dog is that needy I worry that she knows something I don’t.
* Finished up the day counting and measuring upper cabinets. Still not sure if I have enough or too many or the wrong sizes. It’s complicated. I’ve got 12s, 16s, 18s, 24s, 30s, short ones, tall ones and a Lazy Susan corner all in various heights and I’m not sure I can use any of them. That’s not true, I know I can use some of them. The the problem is ‘which ones’. I need one of those 8 ball things or a real interior designer.
* Got a call from the insurance companies inspector today. The least they will let us insure the thing for is $245k subject to the inspection. I was able to put him off until the end of the month by which time we need some massive improvements. Much can be explained away by saying the house needs to be leveled before the sheetrock and the flooring can be finished, etc. But it is a little difficult to explain the bath tub and the crappy tile surround about to fall through the floor and the lack of siding on the west end of the house or for that matter many of the walls with no sheetrock. He may or may not give us the valuation we need but like Rush says “It is what it is.”
* Dinner this evening was”The Kitchen Sink”. That’s a pizza from the Fritz Creek Country Store. It was excellent and there is enough left for breakfast in the morning. YUM-M-M

Bob’s Version: Homestead Day 47

Homestead Day 47 Monday 10/06/2017

Got up this morning to 18 degrees. The temp in the trailer according to the electric heater was 45. Not too bad for a single 1500 watt space heater. Got dressed, walked over to the house, had my usual 1/2 gallon of coffee, cut some firewood, fed the dog, walked the dog, read some news and stoked up the fire all in about an hour.
* Back to sheetrock. Because the house isn’t level, I’ve been laying it up with a fairly wide opening between sheets to allow for some movement. Cut a couple holes wrong in the attempt to get the switches and sockets through the rock. They were nothing that a good tape & mud man can’t fix though. Sheetrock man, I ain’t. It took me most of the day to get up the five sheets with all of the cutouts. Some of the problems are structural anomalies like curved walls, studs not centered on any particular number and walls that are just 4 or so inches taller that a sheet of rock. Made the mistake of not pushing the sheets to the ceiling and putting the patched in strips at the floor. Dumbass mistake, but I’ll interject on my own behalf that “I don’t do this for a living”.
* Tomorrow we’ll try to get down some 1/2″ plywood sheathing on the kitchen floor. This will give us a better surface to which we intend to apply vinyl of some sort. Yeah, I could tile it but the house moves winter and summer and this is an earthquake zone. Tile would just split and crack in the first year. I’m kind of liking the new stick down vinyl tiles that look remarkably like wood. They would flex a bit and stay in place for most of the house movements so anything short of a major earthquake is unlikely to effect them.
* Hauled a few more things from the trailer to the POD.
* Wasn’t feeling it so I stopped the lifting and toting and went back into the house to scrape up vinyl tile squares that have likely be down since 1982. They look like 1982. The tool of choice is a scraper for removing shingles from a roof. As manufactured it was probably good enough for shingles. 35 year old vinyl tiles are another matter. I sat down with it and a file and sharpened it to the point it would almost cut paper. This modification was remarkably good at removing all but the most recalcitrant tiles. Like that Southern Bell lineman told me long ago, “The difficult we do today, the impossible takes a little longer.” I was only dealing with difficult today. Got up enough tile so that we can start putting down the sheathing and set some cabinets and appliances. This ain’t my first rodeo with cabinets and appliances. I remodeled a kitchen at our home in Clearwater. It came out pretty good even if I do say so myself.
* After a bit Summer showed up on scene, fresh from the struggle of reassembling her bed. Now she would not be sleeping on the mattress on the floor. She is now a happy non-camper, at least, as far as her sleeping arrangements go. She’s still cooking on a 2 burner Coleman camp stove and using the small shelf in the wood stove as an oven. Am going to attempt to make the current cooking facilities redundant tomorrow.
* We both worked so late that we had a box of Stove Top, candied carrots and french cut green beans. The only semi-major production was the candied carrots that were grown right here in Alaska. Everything else was done in under 5 minutes. And yes, I had a couple vodka sevens before toddling off too my trailer bedroom where the temperature was about 30 degrees.

Bob’s Version: Homestead Day 46

Homestead Day 46 Sunday 10/05/2017

Cleaned the construction debris AGAIN. The temperature has been a little colder in the past few days. It only rose to about 32 during the day and was about 26 this morning. It snowed some but the sun came out later and all of it melted to slush. Just wet enough too make more mud.
*Unloaded some of the trailer into the container. Also, unloaded once bus contents from house into the container, heretofore to be referred to as the POD. Couldn’t come up with good words for the acronym. Much of the material stored is tools and Summer’s kitchen equipment. She has more kitchen stuff that most Chefs. Still have about half of the trailer to unload. The unloading of the house gave me some room to work on the kitchen.
*Spent about an hour measuring existing cabinets and walls in an attempt to use what we have. 4 sketches later I, eventually, worked out a plan that uses most of the cabinets we have. However, I can’t install cabinets and appliances until the sheetrock is installed.
*Summer ran into town to get the hose that goes with the propane tree so that we could use the larger propane tanks instead of those little green cans. We were out of green cans and they cost about 6 bucks apiece up here. She spent about $27 to get the hose but we break even on the first larger tank of propane.
*While Summer was in town, I decided to begin the sheetrocking of the kitchen. Sheetrock work is a lot harder than I remember. Lifting a 4×6 foot cut sheet up to the second course is difficult no matter what for one person, but I did not expect it to be that difficult. I ended up screwing a 3′ piece of 2×2 onto the wall and setting the cut piece on that. Worked like a champ. Will have a couple of more holes to fill is the only bad result. Because the house has yet to be leveled we aren’t going to tape and mud until the leveling is completed. Probably will be next spring before that happens. The sheetrock over the insulation traps non-circulating air which will make the house warmer. Warmer is good. Tomorrow I’ll continue the sheetrock endeavor.
*Had Brassica Surprise (Broccoli, Brussel sprouts,onions, shallots, crumbled bacon all sautéed in bacon grease) and baked chicken for dinner.

November 5-7, 2017

Hi guys!  So, let’s play catch up.  I got a bad case of carpal tunnel and ordered a cast from amazon.  I got it Friday the 3rd and have been wearing ever since.  I am getting my feeling back into my hand and thumb.  I have to take it off to type and some heavy lifting that has to be done.  It has slowed my down a little but I am not gonna let it stop me.


It snowed a little bit on Sunday and then iced over a bit.  It has since melted a bit, but keeps freezing over.

Yesterday (11/06/2017) I had to go to town for a few things.  Water was a big one.  I found the secret to free water and can fill my 5 gallon tanks at the Safeway!  It’s city water,   so I have to get over my snobbiness with water.  I am used to my well back in Florida.  It’s in a spring and tastes fantastic!  This water tastes different, but it’s free and everyone is drinking it and they all seem fine. So therefore I must conform and drink the darn water.

Any who, went to town signed another document at the water people’s office, went to Sav-U-More got vodka, then went to Safeway filled up my four 5 gallon tanks with much difficulty to my hand.  Parked and went in to get a few food items that are a staples here at the Steele homestead.  Then I hit Ulmer’s for printer ink and a new notebook for Dad.  I high tailed it back home without forgetting anything!  YAY!

Dad and I have started the sheet rock in the kitchen and should have the kitchen in temporary working order.  So much better than trying to cook on that Coleman 2 burner stove.  I’ve become a pro at cooking on it.  I might just come out with my own Alaska pioneer cookbook everything cooked in the wood burning stove and a Coleman 2 burner propane stove.  Good Stuff!  Speaking of food, last night (11/06/17) I made candied carrots  from Palmer, AK, Stove Top Stuffing, and green beans for dinner.  All on that Coleman stove. It hit the spot!


As you know now, I put my bed together finally.  It was a lot of hard work trying to figure out the right combination for all those 2 x 4s and the 2 pieces of cut plywood.  I just made it work.  Took a couple hours and well worth the slight aggravation.  My determination was driven by dogs always on my bed dragging in dirt, sawdust, and sheet rock fragments. Now, no one is allowed on my nice clean warm bed without permission.  That and I feel less squatter and more moved in.

So, we should have a kitchen today (11/7/2017)!  So excited! Here is a little video of the progress of the kitchen.


Summer’s Thoughts: November 6, 2017

Sorry everyone, we’ve been busy.  But I stopped long enough to share this with you.  The lighting isn’t very good and I look like the living dead, but that’s okay.

So, back story.  My Ikea bed frame is supposed to have slats on it, but they somehow got lost a long time ago after many moves.  So, when it was reassembled about 3 years ago at my river house on the Suwannee River it had to be modified.  I’m not gonna discuss who did it, but it is a major overkill.  So much, that I could find all the parts to the 2 x 4s and plywood that I was still able to reconfigure they thing and put it back together just as solid as before.  YAY!

Bob’s Version: Day 45 Homestead

Homestead Day 45 STAR DATE 11042017:0820

Started the day by making coffee that I failed to make last night. Was cold this morning as the gravel drive and the ground were both crunchy. Actually, got up before sunrise. Of course, sunrise ws about 9:30. Big whoop. Have a lot to do today.
* Drank coffee like some drug fiend and while talking with Summer about today’s agenda. She decided to clear out all of the dirty dishes everywhere and wash them. We’ve been eating out out plastic plates with plastic spoons. Okay for a picnic but not very good for a normal life. Any return to normalcy is a good thing.
*After much dissembling and delaying and procrastinating, I got up and decided to do something. I wanted to try to get some cabinets installed but a bad place in the floor needed to be repaired. Can’t put cabinets over a floor that is falling in. I started to cut away the floor thinking that it was only a 12×12 spot and ended up cutting a hole 24×20. The idiots before us had, apparently, had a leak for a long time. How can you not know these things? After much aggravation mostly related to finding the necessary tools, i got busy. At last, I got my table saw out. When you have 2x4s and you need 2x2s there is no substitute for a table saw. Finally, with hole patched, I decided to see if we could hang some sheetrock.
*I discovered when trying to hang rock that the house had settled about an inch since we had arrived the house had settled about an inch on the east side. With that in mind I did not put a lot of screws in the sheet rock. Only put in enough screws to hold it against the wall. When the hard freeze comes we will jack the house level again. I suspect that this is going to be an annual proposition. Was going to have something more permanent installed but after consulting with an engineer decided that that might not work any better than the pilings set on 24x24x16 slabs. It seems that the Sonotube thing doesn’t work very well in my area as there is no solid layer to anchor it in.
* Swept up more construction debris and dirt (formerly mud). Pursued the phantom electric box for awhile to no avail. I really am going to have to rip out sheet rock in Summer’s bedroom. I am substantially less than enthused. Since it was about to be dark, I picked up my tools and put them away.
*Cut some debris firewood so that we’d have enough to get through tomorrow. Oil stove is working just fine but at 22k btu it isn’t going to heat the entire house. We need the freeze up so that we can get some real wood. Our fuel tanks will be filled Monday which will insure our survival but not our comfort.
Dinner consisted of salmon cooked in aluminum foil by placing it in the wood stove. The salmon was marinated in Summer’s secret marinade and wrapped in foil. I don’t ask, I just eat. Had a nice big salad as a side.

It’s still today 11/4/2017

I am trying to type with this stupid cast.  Dinner was great! I made salmon from our friend Mike.  He was very generous in giving us some salmon filets and a moose roast.  I’m saving that roast for a day we really need it.  It’s about to start getting colder, I mean in single digits by the following week.  We need the ground to freeze so we can get proper firewood.

We had a great salad and salmon.  Since I don’t have a working conventional oven I marinated the fish in soy sauce, pepper, down sugar and a little molasses.  Molasses is my favorite food group.  Any who, I wrapped the fish up in tin foil and baked in the wood stove.  I usually cook it on broil in the oven, we use what we got and that’s just fine.   Salad was organic butter crunch lettuce from Safeway (it’s the same price as it is in Florid), cilantro, chick peas, onions, tomato and cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette.  I ate every bit of it?  Thanks Mike!

I also did a days worth of dishes in the bathtub.  I don’t have a kitchen sink yet and the camper’s water heater died.  So I can’t do the washing there.  So, I had to do all the dishes on my knees and irritate my back a bit.  The procrastination on doing said dishes was intense.  I used every pan and pot before running out of things to cook it.  The procrastination also involves laundry.  I’m hoping we get the washer hooked up tomorrow.  Monday is water delivery day so Sundays will be washing day.  If I don’t wash laundry soon I might have to go buy new underwear which is probably overpriced here in Homer.