Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to the end of the China flu.

Haven’t written on the blog since last April The reason was that all I could describe seemed so infinitely mundane. The descriptions of building, repairing or destroying seemed redundant and boring as hell. They were boring to me as I was writing about them. Because I don’t deal with boredom very well, I stopped the drivel (my description) and then just couldn’t seem to find the time to get back to the writing. The average time involved to produce a blog is about 3 hours. Something that you read in less than 10 minutes requires numerous revisions in language, photos and the avoidance of dangling participles. The, overweight red faced Hueytown High School English teacher mercilessly pounded punctuation into me as I was retaking 10th grade English as a senior. Her frustration was great. I could tell her why the English or punctuation was wrong but I had not a clue why. Anyway, enough explanation and on to the recent history of our Alaskan adventure. Adventure may be a little overstated. Tribulations might come closer to the mark.

Where to start. We began our 5th year here in Fritz Creek on September 18. It passed us by with our noticing. September is Fall and the snow will come too soon. There are a hundred little things that need to be done before the snow. Dozens of items left in haste to get to the next project during the summer now need to be picked up and put away. You don’t want the snowblower to suck in a chunk of 2×4 or a large rock. It’s damned inconvenient, when you are trying to make paths to the wood tents, the chicken house or to simply give the dogs a place to walk, to suck up a carelessly dropped piece of 10/2 w/ground Romex. I did that last winter. I had to take off my gloves and it took twenty minutes to unwind it out of the snowblower tines. The temperature was only in the low 20s but my fingers were numb by the time I extracted the wire. Trying to be way more careful this winter. Speaking of this winter here is some video I shot two days ago. The cinematography is so bad that I’m afraid that The Idiot will come here and shoot me as well. It was reported early on (and never heard again) that when The Idiot was told that they would have to reshoot the scene he reportedly remarked how “It might be easier to shoot the two of you”. This is, apparently, when he aimed the gun toward the camera and pulled the trigger. Anyway, here is the video.

The snow is gone today. It has been wiped away by a steady downpour. Rain we don’t need. Rain makes mud and we’ve had quite enough mud for one year.

In the last years I built an aircraft landing strip (not really) deck. It was built for Summer to be able to open her Greer Rd Greenhouse which is a seasonal garden center. This past Spring was the first season. She got kind of a late start and didn’t do as well as she had hoped. She had some problems sourcing plant starts. I solved that problem a little late. By the time she got all of her plant starts and other merchandise, most people had already gotten what they would need for this extremely short growing season. She did fairly well considering the late start handicap. She made a lot of new friends and customers that will be back for next Spring’s planting season.

The construction of the aircraft landing strip.

The aircraft landing deck.
Summer taking a sweet tea break. It was hot that day.
The greenhouse being installed.
The finished product. Yep, I noticed some of the pilings sank. Been leveled since this picture was taken.
Shelving ready for plants and a ton of pots across the aisle.

Inside ready for the huge throng of customers.
Outside on the deck with various amendments, dirt and a crap load of pots across the bridge over the River Why..
Some flowers with some potato sets in the foreground
Our built in one day parking lot with some of the baskets Summer planted.

There have been some ’challenges’ this year. Many of you have experienced the mask madness at stores that would not let you in with one of the useless damned things strapped across your face. My solution was to not shop at those stores. Some of the stores only suggested that you wear a mask whilst forcing their employees to mask up. Almost everyone wearing a mask was doing it wrong. I saw one lady with a face shield and no mask which made even less sense than the improperly fitted masks. Summer tried to take the vaccine but had such a violent reaction that they would not give her the second dose. My doctor who was forced to wear the mask agreed with me that, if you can smell the french fries through the mask it is useless. I heard another doctor remark that trying to catch a virus with the available masks was about like trying to catch a mosquito with a chain link fence. The silliness continues, It appears that the more they vax the worse it gets. Not only that the vaxed are ‘shedding’ the virus and infecting others more than the unvaxxed are infecting others. The majority of the unvaxxed don’t have the virus and thus are unable to spread it. It is simple matter of common sense that this is not a ”pandemic of the unvaxxed”. I have been vaccinated for everything from polio to bubonic plague. I am not anti-vax. All of those vaccines were not experimental and provided a mostly permanent shield against that particular disease. These COVID vaccines do not provide a permanent immunity to COVID. I have not taken any COVID vaccine. My doctor recommends it but as I told him ”I may seem a little morbid but I’m 77 and I expect to die from something sooner rather than later”. The only bumper sticker I’ve ever had on one of my vehicles reads ”Fear is not a virtue”. Well enough of that crap.

The summer has been busy. I moved the wood tents from just outside the back door to a position further away. This cleared up the parking at the back door much to Summer’s delight. The POS greenhouse we bought three years ago continues to fall apart. I had intended to pull out all of the corrugated plastic panels and cover the entire thing in proper greenhouse plastic sheathing. That didn’t happen. I guess it will be early next Spring before I get that done. I had the plastic but not the time. Time flies even when you aren’t having fun. I hauled in eight cords of firewood logs and bucked them up into rounds. Summer and I have split five cords so far. We had hoped to avoid having to split wood in the snow but I’m guessing that won’t happen now.

I hammered in 20 something steel fence post and installed four 4×4 treated corner posts to corral the filthy damned geese. Goose crap is as large as that of a small dog and they just dump it indiscriminately. Nothing like goose crap on the soles of your shoes. We had intended to fence in the chickens but we seemed to have run out of time for that as well.

Earlier this year we noticed a grinding noise in the rear end of the Range Rover, Summer’s favorite winter car. It has remote start and heated seats. Anyway, I took it to a mechanic that diagnosed the problem as defective rear brake calipers. He wanted $800 to replace the defective calipers and the two flexible brake lines. I didn’t let him do the job. Too much money. I’m a mechanic. I used to build hotrod engines for people back in the day. I ordered the calipers and then took a couple of months to get back around to the Rover. I pulled the wheel and saw no real problem with the caliper. But since I had the new ones I decided I might as well change it. When I removed the old caliper the entire axle assembly pulled out of the rear end housing. The moron that diagnosed the problem obviously did not have a clue about the real problem. Apparently, the rear end was without lubrication and even though we’d had the vehicle serviced several times and nobody checked the rear end. Back in the old days we changed the oil, checked all of the grease fittings and the rear end. Today there are few, if any, grease fittings and oil changes are ”Wham, bam, thank ya ma’am” and nobody checks anything underneath the car. BTW, the noise was the axle bearings on both sides that were no longer there. Fortunately, we bought a Rover with a bad engine back in the Spring. This was purchased for $500 and to be used for spare parts for Summer’s Rover. It was a bargain because the alternator alone would cost near $300. Plus it had a brand new $150 battery and five very good summer tires. It was the deal of the year. Next Spring I’ll pull the entire rear end and put it into Summer’s Rover. I had intended to do it this summer but didn’t have time.

Leveling the house has become a lost cause. I have given up on the project. After over 2 years of wrestling with this project, I’ve had it. I’m tired of crawling around under the house, getting it level and then having it rise or fall again. Ultimately, It looks as though we will have to spend close to $30k to get a solid concrete foundation under the house. We probably should have done that several years ago but a Steele head is hard and once we start something we are unwilling and unlikely to give it up. With that said, I am declaring an unconditional surrender.

I mentioned earlier that we built the store parking lot in one day. Summer and I rolled out the TYPAR underlayment fabric in the morning. I called the gravel suppliers as we were rolling out the fabric. I was informed that the trucks could only haul 60% of there capacity which meant in order to get the minimum 20 yards that we needed we’d have to have four deliveries instead of two. The major cost of gravel is the transportation. So instead of a $900 parking lot we ended up with a $1600 parking lot. The reason for the reduced loads are the frozen ground thawing under the roadways. It doesn’t thaw evenly so heavy loads can break the asphalt and create pot holes. It is just part of living in Alaska. Had we ordered the gravel in the previous week we’d have gotten the gravel in two loads and saved $700. This is one of those hard lessons learned. Sometimes I think that my Grandma was correct in her assertion that ”You live and learn and then die and forget it all”. Some of the stupid things that I have done in my life deserve to be forgotten.

Well, that’s it for me. I’ve been pecking away at his for near 4 hours. Below are some photos I thought you might like.