Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to all of the police, fire and military personnel risking their lives daily serving us.

25 October 2020 Sunday

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday were beautiful, sunny days. I arose this morning to pizzling rain, and a cold wind out of the northwest. A raw, cold cutting wind that just cut right through three layers of shirts and sweaters like I was standing outside naked. This weather almost makes me look forward to snow. Went back into the house and got my lined rain jacket. That made things much better. We got mud, mud and more mud. Where we don’t have mud we have rocks. The temperature is a balmy 40 F. without the wind it would be tolerable and any activity would have you shedding a layer of outer clothing. We seem to never get rain in the summer when we need it for the gardens and to fill the duck ponds.

Funny, to me, I got a call from a polling operation. They were, obviously, push polling so I told them what they wanted to hear. Yep, I’m voting for Biden, Gross an all of the Democrats. At least, that’s what I told them. I usually hang up on the pollsters but I thought this might be fun. He asked the same questions about 4 different ways. His problem was that I am really good at taking tests. If you’ve ever taken a test for a job, you’ll remember that the often ask the same question several different ways. The test is designed to trip you up. Unless you can remember how you answered the last permutation of the question, you might answer the next version differently and cause you to not get the job. Anyway, he hung up fully certain that he’d just talked with a loyal Liberal Democrat. He was happy and I got to amuse myself for a few minutes.

We’ve been running a “garage sale” in the tent/greenhouse. Now that the bulb planting season is over we have no garden stuff to sell that can be planted in frozen ground. The ground has. been kind of crusty frozen for several of the past mornings. It thawed later in the day but this is the bellwether announcing that the hard as rock ground is not too far away.
The sale was pretty good Friday and Saturday but today has been a bust. Since there were no customers braving the rain, we started unloading storage containers out of the loft of the storage tent. 16×20 with an attic built in and slam full of stuff we no longer need or want. The only things in the tent that we really want and need are the new cabinets for the kitchen. The kitchen installation has been delayed and then delayed and then delayed some more. Summer and I are both sick of the half-assed kitchen we’ve been using. Not only that we’re living amongst neatly stacked boxes of hardwood flooring that cannot yet be installed. Both of these projects are held up by the need for the final leveling of the house. That grinding task is still a few days away. I’m still waiting for the new concrete footings to be fully set. I’ve been advised to allow them to set for, at least, three weeks because of the lower temperature since they were poured. In the mean time, we are just going to continue the sell off of our excess personal property for an additional week.

26 October 2020 Monday

Woke up at 6:00 AM to a deluge of water falling from the sky and the wind rip roaring around and shaking the house. Today, in spite of the rain and the wind, I’m doing a dump run this morning. After the dump run, I’m changing the truck over to my studded winter tires as it has been snowing in the passes on the way to Anchorage. Will be checking the front disc brake pads. I may need to replace the the brake pads and have the discs turned. We have put some 50,000 miles on these brakes. I’m fairly certain that I’m doing brake work today. I hate brake work but the local mechanics would charge well over $350 to do a job that will cost only about $100 for parts and paying for the discs to be turned. I understand ‘overhead’. However, for a job that would take them about an hour, I can’t bring myself to donate $250+ to their profit margin. It will end up taking me 3-4 hours because of having to wait for the discs to be turned. I guess I’m just a miserly old man.

Tomorrow I’m off to the big city of Anchorage. Anchorage is the stinky armpit, maybe crotch, of Alaska. It is a crime infested, vagrant filled Lib/Prog/Communist craphole. When in Anchorage, I only get out of my truck at the supply house and to pump fuel. I really don’t want to become an Anchorage crime statistic. The Mayor of Anchorage just had to resign for emulating Bill Clinton behavior. The reason for the trip is that Summer has merchandise, for her garden center business, that needs to be picked up. My trip will cost about $80 and the freight to have the stuff delivered would be about $200. I’ll drive the 430 mile round trip which will save $120. It takes about 4 hours to drive to Anchorage. The day will be close to 10 hours from home to home. I’ll be leaving before daylight and I have a real problem seeing at night. Cataract surgery is being scheduled. This will be a nice change and a good trip for Suzy and myself. She hasn’t been anywhere in several months and I think she gets bored at staying home. I know, for certain, that I do.

Well, I’m off to the dump. Y’all do your best to behave.


Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to the Russians that invented vodka.

23 October 2020 Friday

Vodka is a deserved reward for a job done well, or just okay, and sometimes when the job goes completely sideways. Nothing of any great importance has transpired since Monday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were just hours of dragging long unused items from inside the house and the Conex. I am selling tools. I have always told anyone that would listen “Never sell tools”. Yet here I am selling tools. I have a bonafide, excellent excuse for this heresy. Take drill motors for instance.. I have a Milwaukee 1/2″ Holeshooter that is almost as old as Summer. Still works like a champ. I have a Black&Decker 3/8″, I have 4-18 volt RYOBI Cordless units, and a 18 volt RYOBI Impact drill. I, also have a drill press. All of this drilling horsepower led me to selling the Black&Decker. Sometimes it’s just time to weed the garden and I’m probably going to really miss that B&D even though I haven’t used it in the past couple of years. Unfortunately, in these trying times, sacrifices have to be made. The bottom line is that, if I own more than two of a particular tool one has to walk the plank. The number of some tools of the same ilk in my possession was a little alarming. he number of tools still new in the box was horrifying. I had no idea that I was hoarding tools. I was always buying them with the caveat that I would, eventually, need that left handed pipe wrench or the chrome molybdenum counter rotating grommet remover. I have an Oxy-Acetylene setup on a cart with two tanks, brand new hoses and regulators that I bought 5 years a go from an estate sale. I have never used it. When I watch that TV show ‘Hoarders’, I’m thinking “Boy, these people are really stupid”. BUT are they more stupid than a guy who buys and hoards tools that he will likely never use? Probably not. Unfortunately, a lot of men suffer from the same, nearly incurable, ailment. I’m going do this the same way I quit smoking 30+ years ago. I’m going to get rid of the tools just like I got rid of the cigarettes, I’m going ‘cold turkey’. It might not be easy but rarely is anything of value achieved easily. An odd story about my quitting. When I quit, I decided to give the near two cartons of cigarettes to a guy I really didn’t like. He took them gladly and this is where the odd thing came in. He went cold turkey and quit a couple of weeks later. Magic cigarettes??

Today was the first day of the sale. For reasons that need not be discussed, we did not get the garage sale open until nearly 1:00 o’clock. Well, I guess it would be alright to discuss the reasons we didn’t get open. Summer had an important conference call and I drank coffee and listened to Rush Limbaugh until the show ended at 11:00. I wanted to hear what he had to say about the ‘debate’ on Thursday evening. I listened to some of the debate but turned it off after about 20 minutes. Honestly, I just can’t stand to hear Mr. Biden talk. I’m sure that some of you have had the experience of someone’s voice grating on your every nerve. There is no logic or sense to it but that is Mr. Biden’s voice for me.

Anyway when the sale, at last, began there were very few customers. It was after all a work day so I suspect that was the reason for the paucity of paying customers. About 5 o’clock when Summer was about to call it a day there were several customers that had, apparently, just gotten off from work. So in spite of the late start it turned into a pretty good sales day.

I guess that gets you up to date on our trials and tribulations here in Fritz Creek.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to remaining vertical

October 20, 2020 Tuesday

Yesterday, Monday, involved a trip to the big city of Soldotna. This was necessary to get the estimates to repair the bubble fenders on my truck, Spike. One I damaged when the truck slid sideways and bumped the big tank.. DENT!!!! The tank was fine the truck was injured to the tune of $4300. The other side was damaged (Crumpled and dented) by a hit and run in the Home Depot parking lot. This bit of fun had an estimated repair cost of almost $6000. I’m not sure that USAA is going to repair it or decide to scrap it. I guess I’ll get that answer in a few days.

Sneak attack by unknown vehicle
‘Slid into the tank’ dent

Also, went shopping. Went first to Fred Meyers, a division of Kroger, and could find almost nothing on my list. The place is so jumbled up and disorganized that I, finally, gave up and went to Wal Mart. At Wal Mart they wanted me to wear a mask but I showed them my list with ‘masks’ at the top. That satisfied the young lady and I was allowed to continue on my quest. I picked up a package of masks as I entered the store and then continued my shopping. Up at the Wal Mart you find stuff arranged in some logical order and this makes the shopping go very quickly. It logical arrangement does not preclude being lulled into some sort of trance where you find yourself inspecting stuff that you either can’t afford or for which you have the same need as an extra hole in you head. That which should have taken a quick, crisp 45 minutes, including the time to check out and pay, I was there for for substantially more than an hour. I dropped off the package of masks on a convenient shelf on the way to the check out. I’m not wearing the ‘Coward Sheeple Flag’ that is the mask. On the way home, I noticed that it had snowed a bit. Nothing serious but the real winter snow is fast approaching.

There was an earthquake yesterday. The quake was centered at Sand Point in the Aleutian Islands some 600 miles from Homer. People felt it here in Fritz Creek. I felt nothing 80 miles further north in Soldotna. The quake was a 7.4 or thereabouts. A pretty big quake but centered well beyond the populated areas. There was a tsunami alert and the result was a 4 foot wave after there was an evacuation alert down in the Aleutians.

I have been watching the political scene pretty closely. Here in Alaska we have two Democrats running as Independents one for Senate and one for Congress. Democrat is an increasingly dirty word in Alaska and I suspect In all of America. Both of these Democrats are on tape saying that they will caucus with the Democrats in Washington. The senate candidate is even on tape admitting that ‘most’ of his beliefs are to the Left. Of course, they are promising “free everything”. How we are to pay for all of this “free stuff” is beyond my comprehension. I’ll be voting against “free stuff”.

Been revising my ‘To Do’ list. We are planning to house the bees in the newly constructed green house for the winter. This is going to require making sure that all avenues of escape are closed. That is my major project for Tuesday. In addition, I am still dragging out stuff to sell in this weekend’s ‘garage sale’. I am still finding stuff that I have forgotten that I owned. If I haven’t needed or used it in the last 3 years, it is going to a new home. If someone doesn’t buy that particular, unused widget, the Salvation Army will become the new owner. The next thing on the ‘To Do’ list is installing the siding on the outside of the downstairs bathroom. This should have been done two years ago but everything seems to get in the way of this 3-4 hour project. After that project is complete, I’ll be installing gas lines for two small propane heaters. One is for my bedroom where I have no heat and last winter Suzy’s water bowl skimmed over with ice on on particularly cold night. It didn’t freeze solid but it was an indication that I should, maybe, install some sort of heater. In December, three winters back, I was driving back to Florida to get the balance of our valued possessions (Many of which we’ll be selling this weekend). I spent the night behind a convenience store in Tok (pronounced toke like a draw on a wacky weed bundle). I was sleeping on a mattress in the 28′ cargo trailer. During the night the propane Mr. Heater went off. During that night the dog water bowl, sitting on the floor next to the mattress, froze solid. I bought a new Mr. Heater in Canada the next day. That Mr. Heater quit during the night which led me to discover that that the problem wasn’t the heater but the propane tank. The tank was getting so cold that the propane would not evaporate so that it could be burned. Solved the problem by placing the tank where it got some of the heat from the heater. The dogs and I were toasty warm for the balance of the trip through Canada and on through the Great White Northern States of America. Anyway, a heater in the bathroom will make it comfortable to bathe and one in my bedroom will knock kill the chill first thing in the morning.

Guess I better get to work. These projects aren’t going to complete themselves and the garage sale is starting on Thursday.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s looking to winter to get some rest.

October 18, 2020 Sunday

Today was spent removing stuff that we thought we wanted when we moved to Alaska in September of 2017. Clothes purchased and worn once and some not at all. Summer’s dive gear that she is not likely to ever use again. Several thousand dollars in dive gear that she has been unable to sell for $500. Summer’s excess collection of film cameras, lenses and paraphernalia that no one wants any more. Most phones now take pictures that are almost as good as a dedicated film camera. Old technology superseded by new technology. I’ll be 76 in just 14 days. I’ve seen a crap load of superseding in those preceding years. I removed a half dozen coats and thick hoodies from a storage closet. Most of them I had forgotten that I owned. We removed a twin bunk bed set from the upstairs bedroom along with several boxes that should have been in my Conex ( 40′ shipping container) workshop. How they got upstairs in that bedroom is a mystery. All of these last minutes of activity in what is now Fall up here is a spasm of claustrophobic remembrance of the lack of interior space during the last tough winter. All of this excess will be on sale to people who may or may not need all of this junk, but, thank the Lord, will buy it. We’ll do two weekends unless it begins to snow and whatever is left goes directly to the Salvation Army. We’ve already donated a couple of truck loads of stuff. Since we moved here we are finding that much of the stuff we thought we needed is either useless or superfluous. Also, as I have achieved well past my “three score and ten”, I’m finding that I just really don’t want or need very much. The sale goes on rain or shine in the new tent/greenhouse that I built for Summer to house her new gardening business. She closed for the season yesterday, stored her inventory and will be going back full time to her other job. The store will be open to sell all of our excess. How convenient.

We’ve had several projects going on at the same time. When one was stalled we moved on to the next. This rock walled flower bed was one of my side projects. If rocks were dollars we would be billionaires.

Piling rocks for a flower bed
Another view of this Fred Flintstone flower bed
There were some beautiful and unusual rocks. These were still caked with dirt. Rain later cleaned them.
Thought I had a picture of this in full summer bloom. Guess not.
Another view

Had really great intentions to get a heavy duty support wall under the front of the house and thereby level the entire house. However, other seemingly more urgent and important problems kept cropping up until the rainy season began. The rain made mudslides under the house that completely filled and covered the forms for the concrete footing under 3-4 feet of water infused mud. The area out past the mudslides was filled with water that covered 4-6 inches of mud. I very nearly lost one or the other of my rubber boots every time I stood still for more than a few seconds. Why the house hasn’t slide into the void is a mystery and nothing short of a miracle. Three of the posts supporting the house were completely undermined and were simply hanging from the beam that they were supposed to be supporting. All in all it was a big fricking mess. I spent most of two days moving this water ladened mud with my little tractor. (I got my little Pasquale tractor repaired in the Spring. I had to buy another tractor ($2000) for parts so that I could make the repairs). Once I got the mud removed, I poured 3 concrete piers so as to replaced the posts that were no longer supporting anything.

The mudhole with unremoved mud slides on the left
Another shot from different angle
Before the mud slides.

I have been having a great deal of pain in my left shoulder. Humping those 80 lb. sacks of concrete around did not lessen the pain. It took me two days to finish digging and pour the piers. There was so much water seeping into the holes I dug that I ended up using a couple of plastic tubs for forms. The first wooden form kept floating and the water seeping in made it almost impossible to get the concrete to the correct consistency. As a last resort, I poured two full bags into the form without adding water. I was then able to mix them and shove the rebar down into the mixture. This was to be the most important pier as I am intending to use it as the point to jack the house back up to level. What was left to do is wait 10-14 days to allow the concrete to properly harden before I start using a 40 ton jack to lift the house. More fun is yet to come and I’m hoping that the ground will freeze before I have to start jacking up the house. I am well and truly tired of the mud.

Mud up to the line muddy water above that.

I finished the piers on Wednesday and went to the doctor on Friday. I said “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” He replied “Well, don’t do that.” Anyway that was the result of the visit. He injected some crap into the left shoulder joint and told me to quit lifting anything heavier than a glass of iced vodka. I told him that those were doctors orders that I could follow. I’m hoping that 10-12 days of respite will suffice as I have to put the new posts under the house. They aren’t that heavy but they are heavy enough to hurt when I lift them.

It is nearing the season of snow. The sun is setting earlier and earlier leaving even less time to do the work that must be done. Summer has been operating her new business from Thursday through Sunday. It is bulb planting season in this part of Alaska. Time to get you garlic and bulb flowers into the ground before the freeze makes the ground so hard that you couldn’t drive a shovel into it with a sledge hammer.. Between customers she has been splitting firewood. I chainsawed up just over 8 cords and piled it up. Summer has been splitting and then stacking it in our woodshed tents. She is a long way from finished and I guess that I’ll have to jump in this week and try to get it done.

What is left of the 8 cords of firewood.
Another firewood picture.

I mentioned earlier that I had built Summer a place for her garden center business. Here are some pictures of the construction.

Posts sitting ready to be tamped in.

Every post had to have 6 inches of dirt removed for2 feet in all directions to accommodate 2 inches of foam insulation. The insulation is there along with the plastic wrapped and stapled to the post to keep the frost from lifting the post out of the ground. Anything buried less than 4 feet and without the plastic and insulation is likely to be lifted right out of the ground. It is a serious problem that must be addressed regardless of the time or monetary cost.

Platform with 2×4 floor joists still showing along the edge.
Completed tent and attached greenhouse

It took me just over 4 weeks working alone to get the platform finished. This included rain delays, material delays and a few days of “I just don’t feel like it” or more precisely “I just don’t give a damn”. I wasn’t sick so much as I was sick of the project. I had a guy and a machine dig the post holes. The only problem was is that almost all of the 24 post holes were several inches from where they needed to be. In addition, every one of them was drilled at an angle. That meant you couldn’t stand the posts up straight. I redug every post hole with a manual post hole digger to get them straight and in the correct position. After that I removed all of the dirt (up to a foot deep and 4 feet across) to install the insulation. The only easy part of this operation was using the tractor to cover the insulation with about a foot of dirt. Covering the insulation took an entire day.

Me not giving a damn about working.

When the actual construction started, I thought that It was going to be a ‘piece of cake’. Wrong again, Murgatroid. While I had been so careful to line the posts up along the length, I had failed to line them as precisely across the width. Meaning that two of the posts might line up but the third would not. The third one could be either end or the one in the middle. The only solution was to attach a 2×6 on either side of the three rows of posts. This would allow me to place 8′ floor joists across the width. Not what I had intended. This stupid mistake left me with not enough 2x6s to put in as floor joists because I had to use 360 feet of 2x6s to tie the posts together down the length of the platform. Buying enough 2x6s from Home Depot was almost $1200. I was stumped. I decided to consult with Dan, Summer’s signifiant other. Dan is a Master Carpenter with years of experience and, actually, went to school for carpentry. He suggested that I use 2x4s instead of 2x6s and put them on 12″ centers instead of 16″ centers. Just as strong for half the money. One hundred 2x4x8 cost $580 and the problem was solved.

Store open
60’ of aircraft carrier deck

Well, it isn’t entirely finished. There are still some minor tweaks to be made so that we can put the bee hives in the greenhouse portion for the winter.

This has been a season of numerous bear sightings. We’ve only seen one on our property so far this year. Thankfully they will be hibernating soon. Mostly the only bears we and others have seen are black bears. The brown bears (Grizzly bears) are usually not seen very often in our little corner of Alaska. This year, however, we’ve heard a number of reports of brown bears and some of them with cubs. Any bear with cubs is especially dangerous and not to be taken lightly. Every time we go out the back door we pause on the steps with the door still open and take a careful look around. I have no ambitions of becoming bear poop or being trampled to death by a mama moose. Summer has attributed our lack of bear sightings (even though people near us have seen bears) to the noisy geese. It seems that these honking bastards scare the hell out of almost everything except eagles and other birds. I really, really don’t mind not seeing a bear.

Well, that’s about it for me tonight. My shoulder is hurting from the position I’m sitting. Time to quit writing and drink vodka.