Dad’s Alaska

14 March 2020 Saturday a recounting of 13 March

Miss Suzy hanging out

Here in Fritz Creek and down in Homer the panic buying continues. Summer read to me a post from someone calling them self Coronaholi-O. Makes me happy that there are, at least, some people not taking this too serious. The level of stupid in this is monumental. There have already been more deaths in the U.S. from the flu than people who have have been reported, actually, contracted COV-19 in the U.S. This is a media generated panic. You have a better chance of getting run over by a German NAZI in a WWII tank than dying from COV-19. There is a current theory that COV-19 has been around for months in the U.S. Months that people have been made ill and it have been treated as a cold or the flu or they didn’t get sick at all. The point being that it is likely millions of people around the world who have already survived COV-19. If you are healthy you have next to nothing to worry about. So far the damned thing has only killed older people (Average age 80) with serious underlying illnesses. In other words, it kills people who already have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. The only killing old, infirm people makes me think that the ChiComs may have designed this virus to eliminate some of their millions of older non-productive people. A kinder, gentler and less bad press way to cut down on the number of mouths they have to feed, house and for which they must provide medical care. Pointedly, we are only hearing about how many people have died and not a word about how many people survived this potentially manmade scourge. As I stated earlier this is just the Maim Stream Media hyping the next “WE’RE ALLL GONNA DIE” stupidity. One good thing has come from this latest hysteria. Nobody is talking about Gore-bal Warming.

Started working outside at about 10:30 AM. About noon I came inside and ate leftover chicken wings so that I could take my meds. Back to the mud pit for more home renovation fun. Finished cutting the pilings under the floor to get the all the same height and to accommodate the new 6×6 beam that I intended to install. Mission accomplished at about 1:30 PM. That is where the real fun began. I wrestled that big rascal up and onto the jacking platform, a 4’x12’x14′ that I put in place last week I was slipping and sliding, but no “peeping and hiding” all over the place trying to lift the thing almost 5 feet and make it stay on the platform. If there were two men lifting it would have been over in minutes. BTW Summer could not even pick up one end of it. This wresting match lasted for close to an hour. I would get one end about where it needed to be and then pickup the other end to lift it. That would cause it all to slip back into the mud. Each of these events left me on my knees in the mud. Knowing that doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, I decided to try something different. I lifted the miscreant end up and onto the platform, took a short piece of rope and tied it to one of the pilings. When I lifted the other end it stayed on the platform and with a bit of slippy sliding in the mud, I got the other end onto the platform. YEA!!!!! That only took just over an hour from start to finish. Had I been about half smart, I’d have tied the thing on the first time. Like my Grandmother used to say “Live and learn then die and forget it all”.

The next project was to measure the length to fit under the house and between the two jacks holding the house up high enough to get the beam in, Retrieved my electric chainsaw, scrambled around to find an extension cord and a place to plug it in. I was all set to cut the beam to length. Started to cut the beam and found that the chain was so dull that hot butter would have been a challenge for it. This led to hauling it back to the shed and picking up the gas chainsaw. Of course, it had no fuel or chain oil which triggered another time consuming search for chain oil. At last fueled and oiled I tried to start it, Twenty or thirty or who knows how many pulls on the start rope later, I gave up. I guess I’ll have to buy another $139 chainsaw before next fall. I stomped around cussing for a few minutes before I saw the case for my Porter Cable Reciprocating Saw. In the case with the the saw were several brand new 9″ blades. This saw is far better to be used as a means to destroy stuff than to attempt to cut a straight line. New blade installed and a power cord already pulled, I was able to lop the end off the beam pretty quickly. To be sure it wasn’t a straight cut but it was close enough . Anyway, another mostly unproductive hour gone.

By the time the beam was wrested onto the platform and cut to length it was about 3:30. I am by that time, tired, frustrated and ready to call it a day. I could not quit. I had promised myself that the beam would be installed by the end of the day. There was the problem of raising the beam up the last two feet to put it on top of the pilings. It was a lead pipe cinch that I wasn’t going to be able to lift the entire length and shove it under the existing beam. This led to another scavenger hunt. I needed a whole bunch of wood blocks. After scrounging up what I viewed as way too many blocks ( it was a half dozen too few), I pried one end of the beam up and put a block under it. It was “Wash, Rinse, Repeat” (you probably need to be over 60 to get the joke) for quite a while. I was using a 2x6x8 as a lever to raise each end of the beam and put in another block. After what seemed to be nearly forever, I had the bottom of the beam even with the tops of the pilings. I was so happy. Prematurely happy as it turned out, but happy nevertheless.

The new beam would go in at either end but would not slide into place in the middle. I tried driving it into place with an 8 pound sledge hammer. Could beat one end onto the top of a piling and then the other end would slide out. This was a nightmarish repeat of the platform fiasco of a couple of hours earlier. This time I had a solution and screwed several short pieces of wood onto the piling at one end and the put another vertical to hold the end in place. With one end secure I was certain that I could drive the new beam right on under the old beam very quickly. WRONG!! That damned beam. No, not the one I was installing. I was cursing the existing beam. It had a belly on it like an old, grass fed plow horse. The belly on the old beam was just over a half inch. So while both ends were clear to slide into place the middle was jammed down tight. This raised the question, “What do I do now”. I had a hydraulic jack at one end of the old beam and a screw jack at the other and no way to jack it up in the middle because it would be in the way of installing the new beam. I thought “Why not just jack it up until the belly clears”. “Great idea” I replied to myself. I went to the screw jack and the weight on it was so great that I could barely get a half turn before I wasn’t able to make the wrench move. I went to the hydraulic jack and jacked it up until the complaining noise of groaning, creaking, cracking timber started to scare me. The other day, when I was jacking up part of the main house to put in the leveling boards I had, quite literally, exploded several concrete blocks as they failed under the weight. I did that twice before I was able to put in the levelers. Now I was jacking down on a 4x12x14, that had each end on the frozen dirt and a few concrete blocks stacked near its’ middle to attempt to raise 10 feet of the house another 3/4 of an inch. This seemed to be a good time to go get some water and think about this problem. I couldn’t make to screw jack go any further up, the hydraulic jack was at the max in more ways than one and the fat bellied beam wasn’t allowing me to hammer the new beam into place.

While pondering the problem, I let the dogs out, drank some water and ate a couple of peanut butter cookies from Walmart. They were terrible. I won’t be buying that brand again. After 10 minutes of munching lousy cookies, I remembered that the jack at the other end of the exploding concrete block episode had lifted the trapper’s cabin portion of the house a good bit. The screw jack wouldn’t lift it but a 40 ton hydraulic jack would. Again, I found myself digging in the frozen ground. I needed a level a spot for the hydraulic jack . Another search for a stout plank to put under the jack ensued. A half hour later, I’m jacking the house up off it’s leveling boards. There was much groaning, creaking and cracking and when the screw jack fell out, I very nearly had a heart attack. For a split second I thought that I was either dead or on my way to the emergency room. The jack fell out and no harm came to me or the house and as Martha says “That’s a good thing”. With all of the groaning, creaking, cracking and jack falling action, the belly of the beast beam was still not allowing the new beam to slide into place. I hammered the living hell out of it but it was ‘Close but no cigar’. The hydraulic jack was at it’s max. No more lifting from that end. The jack on the other end was, also, fully extended. I decided to place some of the old shim blocks on top of the piling next to the jack at the other end and let it down. Once it was released I collapsed it completely and put another 2×6 piece of board across the bridge to the 4×12 and add another shim block. After the prep, I started jacking the scary thing up again. All the while, as the groaning, creaking and cracking started in earnest, I was trying to calculate where the jack, the piece of iron on top of the jack and the splinters would go. It was obvious that there was no really safe place to stand to operate the jack. I stopped jacking when I began to really, really scare myself. The time was now about 6:30 PM. Summer had come home and then gone to Dan’s for supper. Supper is the evening meal and dinner is what town folk refer to as “lunch”. You have ‘Sunday dinner’ in the early afternoon not at night. Never mind.

The beam is in place the house is jacked up as far as I dare and I’m hoping that it is enough. I retrieved the 8 pound persuader from the mud where I had inadvertently knocked it down in my effort to get the second hydraulic jack installed. Wiped off the handle and started beating the side of the new beam. Lo and behold it moved. Twenty or so whacks later it slid into place. I leaned up with my rubbery arms hanging at my side and laughed, After a few minutes, I carefully let the jacks down and the beam was fully installed. That was at 7:00 PM, it only took 8 1/2 hours to do a 2 hour job for two people.

As an insult added to injury, unbeknownst to me, a plastic fitting that had the pressure gauge in it, had failed. It was frozen when we replaced the pump last week. and in this warmer weather it thawed and we lost 300+ gallons of water. This meant that I had no water to shower the mud and dirt off myself. Thankfully, Dan let Summer and I use his shower. I was so filthy that I’d have slept on the floor to avoid contaminating my bed. Aside from much cussing there was nothing I could do. Tomorrow I will deal with the water leak and Monday they will deliver water again. Life goes on in spite of the minor set backs.

Are we there yet, Spring?

Weather is as unpredictable as usual. It warmed up and then it snowed, then it warmed up, and then it snowed and now its pretty chilly and sunny. The weather this week should be sunny and cool (highs in the 20s). Yesterday was warm around 33 or 34. It started to get really melty and difficult to drive in. I’m sure you read my Dad’s blog about his encounter with the water truck and him getting two vehicles stuck while I was at work.

Speaking of work. It was a challenge to walk through sticky, melty and mushy snow. The dogs really didn’t care, but I was walking around like I was a staggering drunk. The roads were melting and it was really really slushy in places. You kind of slide around and look like you are drunk driving. Then, the road starts crumbling into deep pothole filled with melting water. So now, you are dodging deep potholes and yet again you look like your driving drunk. If you can’t dodge them and you have to hit them you are only make the potholes worse. Good Times!

The ducks think it to be spring. They have started to lay eggs again and I have found myself with a surplus of duck eggs. I have made gathering eggs a game. Due to our below freezing temps in the morning, you have to get to the eggs before they freeze and then crack. Then they are no good.

This was Sunday morning and I haven’t gather eggs yet and I was just thinking to myself that the geese should start laying as well. So, after coffee and such I went out to the greenhouse to check out the situation. Low and behold, the waterfowl finally made a nest! The ducks just lay their eggs where ever they are standing up to this point. So, someone got organized and the rest have followed. I walk up to the nest of hay and start digging around. I find 3 duck eggs and guess what?!?!

You guessed it! Two goose eggs! YAY! I’m so excited! I’ve never had geese before and let alone goose eggs! I think I’m gonna try to make a custard out of them in celebration. I took some pics so you can see the difference in the size duck versus goose. Now, these geese are first time egg layers so the eggs should get bigger the more they lay.

Today, I was in the store. There is no Toilet paper in the stores at all! It feels like this mass hysteria and people are prematurely panicking. Today at the local supermarket the paper toilet/paper towel isle looks like this.

All that’s left is crappy commercial TP that will eventually be bought out when the entire U.S. runs out of TP and we will no longer get shipments into our little town. It’s ridiculous. I’m not going to panic until I absolutely have too.

I searched Amazon for my favorite TP only to find the price gouging has started. So freaking ridiculous!

Worse case scenario when the toilet paper runs out, we can always install one of these!

Thursday was a pretty good day. The snow is slowly melting and hopefully break up is near. My geese are trying to destroy my car nibble by nibble. They have chewed the plug off to my block heater on Zippy and have proceeded to do damage to my front bumper by the fog light. They must be fenced in ASAP! Come on break up we need you!

Thursday night we had such an amazing sunset!

Friday was such a lovely day to work (walk dogs or more like hike). The sun was out it felt warm due to the sun reflecting off the snow. It has been so warm that I have started shedding my major winter gear for more lighter stuff. It went from Arctic Muck boots, to Keen winter boots and gaiters. Well, the gaiters were getting too hot and not letting my sweat leave my legs. I had to come up with a better solution. I needed something that would work like gaiters but would allow my legs to dry quickly.

It’s been getting so warm on my hikes that wearing fleece lined Carhartt pants were too warm. So, I have gone to Carhartt leggings which work just fine as long as I don’t have those sweaty gaiters on. Low and behold! LEG WARMERS!

Yes, people! I’m bringing them back as the number one winter accessory you need for post holing through snow! My legs stay dry and the synthetic material keeps the snow on the outside. I recommend leg warmers for those knee deep snow days. Besides, they’re cute! I’m pretty sure Dan thinks so too!

We found another leak in our water system, AGAIN! We found the leak, but have to survive without water for the rest of the weekend. Thanks Dan for the use of your shower, yet again! Monday we will have a water filled again. It really sucks, what a waste of money when the water just drains out all over the snow and under the water house. My duty for today is to shovel snow into the Homer buckets and melt it on the wood stove. Something to last us all weekend. It’s already Saturday so it shouldn’t be too much trouble to go one more day without.

Then, it’s time to start some spring cleaning. I really need to stop hoarding clothes and such that I’m never going to wear. I also wish I had time to try to finish my quilt. Maybe I will finish it by next winter. LOL

Okay. It’s time to be somebody and do some work around the stead! I leave you with cute pics of my dogs. So long readers and stay disinfected!

Dad’s Alaska

Kachemak Bay Sunset
Bob Steele/iPhone 10

12 March, 2020 Thor’s Day

End of the day with a solid foot rest and a vodka.

Today started, as usual, with 48 ounces of coffee, cleaning up the kitchen and emptying the dishwasher. The old 24″ Samsung dishwasher (by old I mean 2 years old) has been replaced with an 18″ NoName dishwasher. The Samsung didn’t wash very well and lasted only two years. You might take that into consideration when you have to replace your dishwasher. I thought Samsung was a near top of the line machine. Boy, did I think wrong. The main control board failed and the replacement at wholesale was almost two hundred dollars. New dishwasher was $329.00 and it is a better fit for our kitchen. I did not follow my own advice that I’ve given to my appliance repair customers for years. “Go buy the cheapest dishwasher you can find of any brand you like. The cheapest one and the most expensive one of the same line have exactly the same motor and pump. The cheap one will wash just as well as the most expensive”. I bought the more expensive dishwasher and all I can say is “I can’t help it that I was born stupid”.

After finish my morning chores which primarily consists of drinking coffee, I set off for Homer to meet a man about a tank. A very large tank. That man, Kerry Plant of Spenard’s Building Supply, was closing out 2500 gallon water tanks for a really good price. He, also had a couple of windows that he wanted to sell. We need windows. Very few of the existing windows on this house open. You might not think so but it gets very warm inside during the summer. A cross breeze is really good for sleeping at night and not sweat while sitting down to dinner or watching TV. Anyway, I bought the tank and hightailed it for home. I will pick up the tank in a week or two. No hurry.

Had a bowl of tomato soup for lunch and got dressed to enter the mud pit. There in the mud pit I was able ( with much aggravation and difficulty) to jack up and put in the doubled 2x6x8′ shims to finish leveling the main part of the house. I moved on to the trapper’s cabin portion of the house and after about 3 hours managed to get it level plus a little bit. The plus a little bit was to give me room to install the 6x6x10′ beam under the near useless, laid on the weak side beam supporting the outside wall. It is what you might call Alaskan construction. Why the damned thing hasn’t fallen down is a mystery to me. The only thing holding that corner of the house must undoubtedly have been someone’s imagination. We had a 7 point something earthquake two years ago and a near 5.0 last year and the darned thing stood up. I am amazed now that I’ve surveyed the lack of support for myself. Anyway, it is as close to level as I am able to get it. Tomorrow I will install the new beam and lower the house down on it. This will then allow me to lower the interior part of the house down on the newly reinforced pilings and it should be near dead level. Completing this will bring me to leveling the last room, my bedroom. This should, fingers crossed, be an easy project involving only jacking up the outside wall and removing existing shims.

Days are lasting longer, but I’m not. I only got in about 8 hours today. Daylight is lasting until near 8:00 PM and I’m out of gas by 6:30. I vaguely remember being able to work 40+ hours at a whack when I worked off shore so many years ago. That was over 35 years ago. My how time flies. Now I consider myself lucky, if I get in 40 hours in a five day week. In my sixties I could work a half dozen thirty years olds to death trying to keep up with me. Ten years has certainly made a difference in my ability to work for long periods. In case some of you are still under 50 let me give you a simple fact…The Golden Years SUCK. You can’t walk as fast, think as fast, hit as hard, work as long or get too far from a bathroom. In addition, you will find yourself going from one room to another and arrive with no idea why you are where you are. You know you left the other room for a solid reason and have no idea what that reason was. I’m chalking this up to having too many things on my mind. That excuse makes me feel better. You’ll be taking 10 kinds of meds and 47 vitamins and minerals because your doctor says that you need them. Worse than that you will on a regular basis forget to take the darned things. Welcome to the last days of your life.

Well, I’m about to have a passel of chicken wings for dinner. Summer does and excellent job of preparing them and I can eat a dozen or so. Nighty night.

Dad’s Alaska

11 March, 2020 Woden’s Day

With the light coming back and daylight savings making it possible to work longer so I got in ten hours of productive behavior. Got going at about 9:30 AM by cleaning the kitchen and loading the dishwasher. Then I warmed up ‘The Beast’ and loaded the trash bags for a trip to the dump.

I got on the road at just before 11:00 AM on my way to the dump. As I was rolling along toward Homer it occurred to me to stop at the health clinic to have my blood pressure checked. The stop at the clinic took about 30 minutes. Whilst standing there I noted that they had signs up “If you have a fever, put on a mask and use the hand sanitizer”. I made a remark about this Covid-19 panic was about the stupidest thing I’d ever seen. Another patient took exception. He was standing there rubbing sanitizer on his hands and wrists. He had that panicked look on his face and when I moved a step toward him he backed up a step. His reaction was funny. He went on to proclaim that the virus was killing people like me and him. I tried to explain that most people that died were on and average 80 years old and already had other serious health problems. I asked him “Do you have a respiratory problem?” No reply. I continued “I don’t and I’m not really worried about a virus with the mortality rate at 1%.” His reply “That’s ten times worse than the flu.” I laughed at him and asked him how many people are, actually, infected?” This pissed him off. I continued, “You are more likely to die driving home today that dying from the coronavirus”. He stomped away toward the elevator to his dental appointment. Were I as scared as he, I sure as hell wouldn’t have someone gouging in my gums and opening the skin up to potential infection. People are always panicked by the wrong things. Bottomline is that in the USA only 35 or so people have died. Most of those deaths (26) were in one nursing home and all of those were about 80 years of age and very sick. There are, perhaps, hundreds of thousands exposed, if not millions, exposed worldwide it seems dumb to be in some kind of blind panic when there have only been about 3000 deaths worldwide. Except for the 35 or so in America the balance of those deaths are in countries that have 2nd and 3rd world medical systems. Swine flu in 2009 killed about 17,000 and hospitalized 300,000 people worldwide during the ‘flu season’ with millions having been affected. The one number you aren’t hearing is the number of people who have recovered. This is a number that is likely in the hundreds of thousands. Straighten up your thinking and where’s the logic in hoarding toilet paper.

My next stop was the dump. There were no wonderful things left in the Recycle Tent and I had forgotten a few things that I intended to leave in the tent for someone else to repurpose. Every now and then I find something that I can use.

Spenard’s Building Supply sold me 12 pieces of 2″x6″x8′ lumber. I checked to see if there were damaged materials that might be available. Found that they had a 2500 gallon water tank for about 1/2 price. Talked with Summer later in the evening and she agreed that we should buy it.

Finally, back at the homestead, I suited up to get down into the mud. Yep, mud. The sun had thawed the ground under the edge of the house where I was working. Because we are rushing toward ‘break up’, I decided that the continued lowering of the house needed to be halted. The house needs to simply be leveled where it is. It has been lowered about 3 inches and was planned for a total of 6 inches. It occurred to me that there was little to be gained by lowering the additional 3 inches. This epiphany led to leveling the 16 feet of the front of the house by pairing up the 2x6x8s under the beam across the pilings under the front of the house. This made much of the front of the house level. Tomorrow I will finish the main part of the house (an additional 8 feet) and then start of the old trapper’s cabin portion of the house. I have a 6″x6″x10′ pressure treated beam to go under the less than adequate existing beam. By the Monday I hope to have this leveling project done. I finished up in the mud pit at just before 8:00 PM.

Tomorrow, I intend to open a brokerage account. I’ll be waiting until I think that oil stocks are near their low and then buy a few thousand dollars worth of it. Nobody can call the bottom but this is a buying opportunity that comes along only once or twice in a lifetime. I had no money (two kids, wife and mortgage) to invest in the 1989 market crash. Now I have a few bucks to spare.

Again. Calm down, go on working and please Stop Hoarding Toilet Tissue!!!

Dad’s Alaska

10 March, 2020 Tuesday

Not water

WATER!!!!

Yep. We, at last, we have running water. It turned out that the water line coming into the house had frozen because the heat tape had failed. I spent about a quarter hour ripping off the insulation that I had spent most of an hour installing last week. Got down to the pipe and found the defective heat tape. Took it off put on a newer heat tape, redid the insulation and in about an hour we had running water. Whooppee!!!!

On one of the dormers on the north side of the house had about a ton of ice and snow on it. The south side dormers are snow and ice free. Tried using a travel trailer jack stand tied to a rope to pull it down. Ten attempts later I had pulled down pretty much nothing. Took 4-5 attempts just to get the darned thing on the roof. After I got the range, I was pulling almost nothing off the roof. PLAN B. I went into the room with the overhang and used a 2×2 to punch the hanging ice off the eave. Didn’t get the snow off the roof but I did get the ‘widow makers’ knocked down. Some of the chunks of ice weighed near 5 pounds. Certainly enough to give you a massive headache.

Went to the kitchen and turned on the dishwasher. Heard that wonderful hum and the sound of sloshing water. How wonderful. There were several pots and pans that had been abandoned for lack of water. I washed them all with great joy and I really, really hate to do dishes. When I was just a teenager, myself and two brothers had to do the dishes nightly. It always seemed that my turn was almost every night even though it only every third day. Childhood things seem to hang onto you even when you think you’ve out grown them.

I have very nearly gotten the house level. A few pieces. of lumber and a couple of tweaks under the downstairs bath and this nightmare project will be over. Tomorrow I will go to the local lumber yard to procure the last of the necessary materials. This has been an aggravating trek through time and space and I will be elated to have it finished. House level means sheetrock, tub surround for the upstairs bath, new kitchen counters on new kitchen cabinets and best of all real flooring. Of course, real flooring means that I have to build and arctic entrance where everyone sheds their shoe.

Like winter before it Spring Break Up is bearing down on us like the proverbial freight train. This means that any of our winter projects that are still not finished must be finished in the next 2-3 weeks. It will be nice to be able to find those things that I lost in the snow like for instance my Pasquali tractor. I know it’s out here somewhere but the exact location is a mystery. Well, that’s not exactly true. I know where it is and the location of the parts tractor I bought to repair the tough little momma. I broke and axle last fall and could not get parts as it is old and the factory no longer supports it. I lucked into another tractor of the same model. It presumably doesn’t run and it has some transmission problems but the parts I need are ready to rock and roll. Rock and roll as soon as the near three feet of snow melts. By next winter, I hope to have built myself some kind of enclosed space so that I can do work like repairing the tractor.

This coming fall when the snowblowers are on sale again, Summer and I will be the proud owners of one of those little beasties. I have shoveled innumerable tons of snow to keep the access to the various buildings open. It isn’t that I couldn’t use the exercise and the cardio workout but it ate up time that could have been spent more productively in activities like sleeping, napping, dozing and restful contemplation whilst sipping vodka.

Our Alaska experience has been kinda tough. Not tough like going out into the bush and building a cabin and clearing the land tough. But it has been by modern standards ‘tough’. I suspect that most sane people would have abandoned this place long ago. I told an acquaintance who saw the enormity of the job “I don’t fail”. I’m sure he went away fairly certain that failure was a ‘fait accompli’. However, as we finish one of the harshest winters that they had here in many years, I am still determined to succeed by completing the renovation of and the addition on this house. Quitting is not an option although dying might be. Anyway, I’d rather die working than rotting away in some stinking rest home for old farts waiting to die.

Finally, got a shower tonight. Also ran the washer with a load of my clothing. Later this evening I will strip off my bed and put on new sheets and pillow cases. Clean body-Clean bed. Actually, I’m going to do that now it’s midnight and I can hear that bed calling my name. See ya tomorrow.

Dad’s Alaska

March 9, 2020 Monday

Today was another series of small disasters.

First the water delivery truck got stuck trying to back down our snow covered gravel road. The driver got a little off the roadway and buried his left rear tires in the snow when he tried to force his way through. He had partially chained up when he first backed off the main road onto our street. He only chained one axle. After he got stuck, he installed the chains on the second axle. This didn’t get him out. He borrowed a couple of different shovels and dug himself out after about a 1/2 hour. Instead of getting straight in the road and backing on up to fill our water tank, he left. A call to his office led to a discussion that still left us waterless. They demanded that we plow the road before they will come back on Tuesday. We haven’t, as of 3:00 PM, been able to find someone to plow the road. So I’m guessing that we’ll be without water for a few more days. Called the water office this afternoon and the polite young lady told me that unless we plowed the road they weren’t coming back. She asked if I wanted to talk with the delivery supervisor. Had to tell her “No” as I would, certainly, be wasting a few of the limited number of breaths that I have left. What is really aggravating they want the road plowed and the driver backed into an area that wouldn’t be plowed anyway. This is what they meant by Catch-22.

The second small disaster came when I was packing down the loose snow with the Range Rover. All wheel drive got me up and down the road 6-7 times before I did what the truck driver did and got off the road. The Range Rover was stuck and not coming out. Shoveled out the opposite side of the road so that other persons could get in and out. After calling every one of the 4 people that I know, I found no help.

Third small disaster. I decided that, even though I had no one to drive the Rover, I’d use the Beast to pull it out sans driver. The Beast is a Ram 350 Double Cab Diesel Dually. Started the Ram and let it warm up before taking it the 200 feet down the road to the Rover. Couldn’t find a chain so I procured a very strong rope. Tied the two together and tried backing up. Almost got the Rover out before the Beast slid sideways and off the road. It was now, also, stuck. Had to cut the rope loose (Bowlines knots pulled so tight that they wouldn’t come loose) from both vehicles so that another car could pass between them. So now I’ve go both vehicles stuck. Shoveled out the opposite of the road so that a car could pass.

Fourth small disaster was when I went searching for my ratcheting Come Along. Ten minute of search turned up nothing. Wandered around for another ten minutes trying to figure out where the hell I had stored the racheting device. I remembered that I had a brand new 20 ton Chain Fall. This would easily pull the Rover out by attaching it to the Beast. Spent another 30 minutes picking up everything in the storage container without finding the chain fall. It is in an unopened box is a cube about 1 foot in all directions. and weighs 40+ pounds. It should have been easy to spot. NOT!! By this time I am completely flummoxed. Since it wasn’t even 5:00 o’clock on the East Coast, I did not resort to vodka.

With both vehicles stuck in opposite ditches, I decided that it was time for lunch. After lunch I looked for a chain and then remembered that all three 20′ chains were on the trailer buried in nearly 3 feet of snow. Luckily the trailer was parked only 30 feet from the road with just 2-3 feet of undisturbed snow between the road and the trailer. Walking through that snow is called post holing. It requires struggling to pick up on foot and put it in front. By the time I got to the trailer I was out of breath. Got there only to find that the chain, I needed, was frozen to the deck of the trailer. What follows is a struggle to and from the road in order to bring a shovel to pry up the frozen chain. Back on the road with chain draped over my shoulder I revisited the disabled Rover. My first thought was to flag down a neighbor and ask them to pull the Rover backward onto the road. After a closer look, it was obvious that pulling it backwards was going to make it end up down the embankment and into the pond. Because of the Beast being in the opposite ditch no one could get in front to pull it forward. The solution that came to me was to throw the chain under the spinning left front wheel. HOORAY!! The damned thing moved a couple of feet. Moved the chain two more times and the Rover was free. Put it back in it’s parking place and walked back to the Beast. Arriving back at the Beast I put the chain on the tow hook and walked to the end of the road. There I stood around for about ten minutes before I flagged down a nice man in another Ram Beast. He had me out of the ditch in less than five minutes. It took longer to back up and hook up than to pull the Beast out. Parked the Beast and moved onto the next things on my daily list of chores.

At about 5:15PM, as I was working on my daily chores, the water truck arrived. The guy had seen that I had packed down the snow and he decided to give it another go. Of course, I thanked him profusely. FINALLY, water!!!!!

The fifth small disaster was when turned on the pump and no water came out of the faucets. Went back to the pump and made sure that it was primed. The prime was not the problem. The pipe is frozen somewhere. Set the jet heater up and let it blow into the water shed for over an hour and still no water. I surrendered and went to the vodka place.

Tomorrow has some possibilities of getting the water flowing, but today is a bust.

Dad’s Alaska

8 March 2020 Sunday

Down at the #2 duck pond looking back at the house.

Slept really well last night. Took all my meds, vitamins and minerals during the day. I am not certain but I think that they are what has been disturbing my sleep. Most especially the BP med as it seems that it increases my trips to the bathroom during the night. Bathroom trips are less of an inconvenience during the day. Just took all my meds for today. We’ll see, if that is the reason for all of the trips night before last.

A nice picture of our late summer mess

Another day without running water. Well-l–l, I got my cardio for the day. Breaking trail to a spot of virgin snow for the Homer buckets. Got to water the animals and have flushing water. The water for the animals is minimal but water to flush the commodes can be a fairly lot of water. 1.6 gallons per flush is a lot of water to haul in the course of 24 hours. A Homer bucket full of snow, if packed down hard, yields only 6-8 inches of water in the bucket and that is about the equivalent of a 1.6 gallon flush. BTW, for those of you who don’t know and I can’t imagine why you don’t, a Homer bucket is one of those orange buckets you can buy from Home Depot. I probably own 20 of them with lids as they are very handy for storage. Their lids have rubber seals that make them water tight. Water tight means they can be stored outside and whatever is in them is dry. Handy Homer buckets are simply handy. Sorry didn’t mean to do a Home Depot ad.

The weather has forced into a day of resting my old bones. I spent the day eating junk food and to a lesser extent sipping vodka with a lemon/lime mixture. The TV has been on all day. We watched ‘Travels by Narrowboat’. It is both interesting and soothing at once. It is a view of England that few ever see. Almost all of it shot POV and narrated by the boatman. You should be able to find it on YOUTUBE. Doing nothing is very tiring and I’m kinda struggling to stay awake until bedtime. The reward for staying awake will be pulled pork sandwiches with baked beans and asiago cheese french fries for dinner. I guess I can stay awake for that. Good night and sleep well.

Dad’s Alaska

March 7, 2020 Saturday

Vodka:30

MUCH LATER…. As in two days later. Last post was on Thursday and it was short. The best laid plans etc. etc.

Thursday was spent thawing out a pipe that the heat tape had died on. Found out when I removed the insulation that water had run down the outside of the pipe for about six inches. The insulation was frozen to the ground. There was no was that the heat tape could generate enough heat to keep the frozen ground thawed. Hence dead heat tape and pipe frozen below ground level. Everything was just peachy keen. Used the jet heater to thaw the ground around the pipe then installed 4″ of foam insulation board below ground level and around the pipe. I carried this foam board out about 12 inches all the way around. That should help the new heat tape keep the water flowing.

Moved onto lowering the house. This entailed belly crawling 30 feet in the fine powdery dust that gets everywhere. It’s on your clothes, in your clothes, in your mouth, up your nose, sifting through your clothes into every crack and crevice that is your body. Whether you spend hours or minutes crawling through the stuff you end up like Pig Pen with a cloud of dust accompanying you where ever else you go. Anyway got the board out of the way that needed to be out of the way. This allowed me to remove the hydraulic jack as its’ holding capacity was replaced by one of the newly located screw jacks.

The next project was to extricate a hydraulic jack from the frozen mud. The boards holding it up collapsed where the rain soddened earth slipped away. I did not notice this event as it wasn’t supporting anything. I was much surprised to find the damned thing sticking out of the ground with all but the ram exposed. The ram and the fully extended screw top were buried nearly straight down into the frozen mud.. Frozen mud is only slightly less hard than concrete. I chopped at it with an axe, a shovel, a big screwdriver and hammer. Got out the propane torch and tried to heat the ground but this resulted in melting some of the plastic paraphernalia on the jack. As a last resort I decided to try to pull it out. All I accomplished was fully extending the ram. Still stuck. Getting the jack body out of the was allowed me to get back in with hammer and screwdriver. I loosened it enough that I was able to fling the thing back and forth violently a few times uttering choice words of wisdom. Suddenly it was released and I was sitting on my ass in the muddy snow. Since my time in the US Navy, I have found that certain choices of words seem to have an effect on inanimate objects. Like John Kerry, I served in Viet Nam. I didn’t, however, get three scratches that ended up as Purple Hearts and a ticket home. Never mind. Water off a duck’s back.

Along about 5:00 Friday morning with my gout ridden left foot hurting like hell, I took two pain pills on an empty stomach. A very short time later I was heaving my guts out. I had slept little Thursday night as the pain kept me awake much of the time. The entire day was a day of sick stomach and inability to hold down liquids or solids. I spent almost the entire day in bed. Then I noted that my blood pressure had spiked again and I had to force myself to hold down a sip of water and the pill. Later, I had some chicken broth and went to bed again. It was a miserable damned day. But HEY! I’m still alive.

Discovered on Thursday that the main reason for no running water in the house was that the pump had died dead. Installed the new pump today. Turned on the feed water to the pump, no water. Looked inside the 500 gallon tank and discovered that there was no water. This led to the discovery that one of the lines had come loose and that all of the water had run out under the snow. So it appears that the pump ran empty until it died from wearing out an internal thrust washer/seal/bearing in the pump. This seized the motor and the motor, it seems, went out on its’ internal overload. Chances are the motor is okay. The newly purchase pump is exactly the same pump under a different brand. You can buy parts for the new pump. Oddly enough, there are no parts available for the old pump. If the motor is okay, I have another nearly new pump for a fraction of the cost of the one I just bought. My silver lining for the day. Water pumps are a good spare to have on hand. Might use it for an irrigation pump this summer.

For over 2 years we have diligently been attempting to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse. We have for various reasons had to abandon the work for periods of time. Still there are times that I am certain and I believe that we can do it and others when I wonder aloud “What the hell am I doing here?”. Today after discovery the missing 500 gallons of water, I was certainly wondering. There’s little I can do but shake my head in disbelief, shrug my shoulders in resignation and plow on through this mess. Water will be delivered Monday AM. In the mean time, I’m melting snow for the animals and for flushing the toilets. Both life and dirty dishes, as usual, continue to be a mess to clean up. See ya.

The front of the house when we arrived.
The front of the house now. Dug out and cleared for a new foundation to support the house and 4 new rooms.

Dad’s Alaska

March 5, 2020 Thursday.

Managed to crawl out of bed in time to see Summer off to her work. Drank the requisite 3 large cups of coffee and ate a cinnamon raisin bagel stuffed with a sausage patty and smeared inside with grape jelly. Yep. It tasted almost as bad as it sounds. I ate it anyway. I was reared in a family of 6 children where food was what was on the table and you had to hurry along to get your fair share and nothing was to be wasted. You ate whatever there was and you cleaned the plate.

This is another day of crystal clear blue skies with the occasional fluffy white cloud. The temp at a quarter to eleven this morning is a crisp 7F. Getting dressed for this low temperature is a pain in the ass. Insulated underwear, two pairs of socks, jeans, snow pants below the waist. Above the waist is insulated underwear shirt, tee shirt, a long sleeve outer shirt and topped by a thick hoodie. Trapper’s hat to cover the ears and gloves for the hands finishes off the sartorial arctic splendor.

Today the plan is to get the water flowing again and then crawl up under the floor and restart the leveling the house project. I’ll let you know how that goes later.

Dad’s Alaska

March 4, 2020 Wednesday

Got up at 9:30 AM, after getting to bed at after 3:30 this morning. Missed seeing Summer off to work as she was leaving as I was crawling out of my warm bed. Doctor’s orders to take it easy today. Not sure exactly what his definition of “take it easy” is. But with the temperature hovering around +5F, I’m not in a big hurry to go outside anyway. It is another one of those cold, beautiful, clear, bright sunny day that lift the spirits. Spirits are best lifted by standing near a warm wood stove with a large cup of coffee.

Yesterday was ‘Stupid Tuesday” or, perhaps, better described as ‘Socialist Tuesday’. There were no Capitalists on the menu for yesterday. Two really old white men (one extremely angry and the other not exactly sure where he is) dominated the day for the Party of Diversity. There is no amazement here considering that the Party of Diversity has trashed all of the minorities and women candidates. Yeah, I know Warren hasn’t dropped out—YET. I am always amazed at the hypocrisy of these people. Don’t get mad. I’m an equal opportunity critic. The decades of RepubliCAN’T has been roundly criticized and jeered by me. I am for that which is Constitutional and best for America not some dumbass political party only interested in their power to piss away our money..

After finishing my coffee I decided to bring in firewood. We had burnt every single piece of firewood as the temps had been at or just below zero for most of three nights. In a little bit of effort to abide by the doctor’s advice, I moved lighter loads. Had to move several extra loads in order to accomplish the task. We’re into March and, hopefully, toward the end of winter. Also, hauled water out to the geese/ducks and dished out feed. Filled seven Homer buckets with snow to generate more water for the animals and for flushing the toilets until I can get the water unfrozen. Earlier this morning the water was flowing from most of the faucets inside the house. Around about 1:00 PM, I decided to finish reloading the dishwasher and clean the kitchen and found that the water had frozen. The temp outside had risen to 15F and yet it all suddenly froze. Inspection revealed that the heat tape had failed.

I was going to unfreeze the piping but it just seemed more trouble than it was worth. I just don’t have the energy or will to drag out the jet heater, unwrap the supply pipe, thaw it out and rewrap it with insulation.

My fingers are tired. So-o-o-o goodbye for now.