March 2, 2020
Today is the third anniversary of my wife’s death. Connie and I were dating and married for over 43 years. She was the great love of my life and there isn’t a day or night that passes that I don’t miss her. I am greatly diminished without her love, wit, wisdom, humor and, sometimes, biting input. I have always been subject to whims. Her presence curtailed many of the stupidest ones and mitigated some of the less stupid. She was the anchor that kept me from drifting into the rocky shores of dumb ass many times. There is no possible replacement for such a person and, frankly, I have no inclination to attempt such a replacement.
Yesterday it snowed a little more. Nothing of any great impact. Just more. Summer spent most of her day working on her planting of herbs and vegetables that she hopes will bear fruit in the coming Spring and Summer. As for myself I wandered about in the snowy landscape attempting to continue the leveling of our humble abode.
I spent much of the day trying to arrange various boards and concrete blocks so as to lift the house off the last two pilings. This project is/was complicated by the fact that the earth had fallen away from the pilings and left no place to place a jack. Thin air does not support 10-15 tons of house no matter how low or high the barometric pressure might be. The only thing holding these pilings in place is a foot or so of frozen soil and several boards that I attached to them that run back to the piling further back under the house. Had I not tied these pilings back to the ones behind them an entire corner of the house would likely be hanging out over the abyss, if not sliding into the abyss. Lowering this house has been a much greater project than I thought. The Aegean Stables would have been easier to clean and taken a lot less time. One reason for the slowness of this project is that I’ve been doing it, almost exclusively, alone. You’re working with four hydraulic jacks. You pump one a bunch of times move on to do the same three more times. The you return to the first and pump it however many times deemed necessary. It is time consuming, tiring and downright aggravating as each identical pump moves differently. The ground under each pump compresses differently requiring additional shimming under each pump after each round. It’s enough to drive a sane man crazy and a crazy man, myself, completely ’round the bend’. Yet for some insane reason I pursue the masochistic endeavor with increased fervor. Each and every encounter with this aggravating exercise in futility leaves me thinking that I’m really getting close to the end. Which end? I’m not certain. The end of what is left of my sanity or the end of the leveling project. They are running neck and neck in this endeavor.
Today I maneuvered a 4″x12″x12′ piece of lumber into place to span the gap left by the soil falling away from the pilings holding up the southwest corner of the house. Under this I stacked concrete blocks to support it near the center. Both ends are resting 15-18″ over on frozen earth that is unlikely to collapse. On the corner I placed another 4′ piece of 4″x12″ on top and perpendicular to the large beam. On this I placed a screw jack. Atop the large beam and the concrete blocks I placed a hydraulic jack. I jacked up the hydraulic until the beam cleared the piling and then ran the screw jack up to support the beam. This left the piling clear to be cut to the proper height and a new heavier beam installed under it. I did the same thing at the other end. I’m doing my very best not to have to do this ever again. When Spring arrives, I’ll be pouring concrete footings and setting a wall under the outside wall of the house. This wall and the footings will be of sufficient strength to support the entire front of the house as well as the new rooms built above it. No more sinking house.
I could have done more today but I got tired of wallowing in the mud. The temp was up to 39F and water was pouring off the roof from melting snow. I got wet and stayed wet for the entire time I was working on the jacking system. There was, also, the aggravation factor of removing a support beam that I had placed across the old pilings to hold the newly installed pilings in place. Somehow the socket that I used to install the heavy 8″ screws would not remove them. It stripped the head on two of the 16 and I ended up having to cut those with my saw. It was an aggravating two hours spent first finding the damned socket ((that I put in a place where I would be sure to find it when needed)) and then trying every trick that I could conjure to get those two damned screws out. Of course, in the search for the socket there were four or five side tracks that ate up time. I’ve lost a Milwaukee Hole Shooter 1/2 drill motor, that I’ve owned for over 30 years, somewhere in the storage container. I ordered a new power cord for it and now can’t find the drill motor. One of the side tracks was the finding of the new and the old power cords. This set off another in vain search for the drill motor. Some mysteries have no solution.
Tomorrow is another opportunity to screw up the simplest of things, pretty much the same as today, I think. See Ya.
2 thoughts on “Dad’s Alaska”
I am truly exhausted after reading this journey today. Good luck. You have a lot of drive and determination!