Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to Spring springing soon.

Monday 28 March 2022 Got another snow fall yesterday and into last night.. The temperature was just barely below freezing 31.4F. Still the stuff stuck and accumulated to a couple of inches by this morning. Even before sunrise the temp was back up to a bit over 34F. The snow has melted off the roof, my car and everything else except the ground where it is destined to become ice tonight, if the temp goes below freezing again. The current temp at 3:09 in the afternoon is 40.9F and we are warmer than much of the lower 48. We were getting very close to being able to work outside again but then the little snow and then the prediction for today was rain. I and a few hundred thousand others are ready for this wintery mess to be over with soon.

Sunset on the homestead

Today as perviously indicated was a work inside day. This led to cleaning the stove top again. Summer can’t seem to cook without spilling on the stove top. I cook on the stove, as well But I’m blaming it all on her as I am riddled with male genetic defects as Dan often says about men, in general. It could be related to having outside plumbing but probably not. We had outside plumbing of a different sort when I and my brothers live with our grandparents just outside of Newport, Arkansas. There was a hand operated well pump next to the house and an outhouse a hundred or so feet from the house and the well. The outhouse was in the chicken yard where, also, resided a gigantic tom turkey that my grandmother named Big Tom.. At least, when I was a skinny little 8 year old, he seemed gigantic. There were two imminent dangers in crossing the chicken yard. Big Tom, of course but, also, the danger of stepping in chicken crap and having it oozing between the toes of your bare feet. What a wonderful sensation. The clean out of the toe goop was a trip to the hand pump where my brother, Johnny, pumped up the water while I used a small stick to scrape the mess from between my toes. We were always barefooted in the Summer. We only got shoes for winter. They were big, old brown brogan high tops. There was no need for this type of shoe. The primary reason was that they were cheap at, perhaps, two dollars a pair. Every Spring, I finished the last bit of school putting cardboard inside my shoes to keep the dirt out. The cardboard worked okay for the dirt but wasn’t worth a damn for water or mud.

Enough reminiscing about my lovely childhood. As I stated today was an inside work day. Almost three months of procrastination had to come to an end. I usually clean out the refrigerator every couple of weeks. The refrigerator portions that I did not clean after the recent Tater Soup Fiasco were looking like they might be some kind of biological weapons experiment. It has always amazed me that small bowls of this and that tend to migrate to be back where they can remain unseen. Sometimes, they can reside there in the back for months. I was, recently, wondering what had happened to all of our soup bowls. SURPRISE!! They are in the back and growing ugly stuff. Yikes! I filled a trash bag with partially used cans of dried up dog food, pineapple slices and stuff that I wouldn’t have recognized were it not for the label on the can. I cannot let this happen again. I penciled in a cleaning for two weeks from today. I spent a number of years in the used appliance business and the one thing I really hated was cleaning refrigerators. No matter how clean a refrigerator looked when it came in it got completely disassembled and cleaned. It was a lot of work for very little appreciation or money. The people who bought them were interested in only two things. Does it cool and is it cheap? Nobody ever said ”Wow, this is clean and it doesn’t stink” Anyway, a shelf by shelf drawer by drawer cleaning of the refrigerator greatly improved our chances of not dying from some sort of weird incurable disease. Next was the several days late on changing the sheets on my bed project. I usually change them every week on Saturday and it is now Monday afternoon. Time to do the dirty deed and install clean sheets as I intend to take my monthly shower this evening. Just kidding. Three showers a week in the winter and as many as necessary in the Spring and Summer. If you don’t sweat you don’t stink and you just don’t sweat much during the winter here in Alaska.

Taken while on one of my walks.

Tuesday 29 March 2022 Got up at my usual 8AM. It seems late until you know that I am rarely in bed before midnight and sometimes closer to 1AM. I guess I hate going to bed as much as I do getting out of bed. I’m sitting drinking coffee and dreading the cleaning of the downstairs bath. Mostly of the dread is two baskets full of bath towels, hand towels and dish towels that need to be folded and put away. I suppose I could turn all of this, folding and stacking on the shelves, into some Zen like exercise because it requires absolutely no thought. Ohm-m-m-m-m. The first thing this morning, even before coffee and nothing should come before coffee, was to rekindle the fire. It was 32.4F outside and a bit chilly inside. Aside from today’s scintillating foray into towel folding and commode cleaning, also, included organizing, and cleaning as necessary, the refrigerator freezer and the upright freezer in the pantry. This is Alaska and you’d think that there would be some exciting stuff to do. Mostly, you’d be wrong. There is ski stuff in the winter but to downhill ski is a 150 mile trip to a ski slope at Alyeska. Or you could do some exciting cross country skiing. A whole lot of work to go no where fast. You could buy $15k-$20k snow machine and go fast on some prepped trails but once you done them, then what? AND the snow machine sits under a tarp for eight or nine months of the year. “The fishing must be great” you say. Well, the fishing is great for about 15 minutes every summer. The limits are low that you spend $100 or more on your fishing trip then catch two fish and you are done for the day. Because of this limit you see people piling 4-5 people on a boat that should max out at three. Some of the boat occupants might not fish but their presence makes it possible to catch and keep more fish. If you are going to spend a $100 you need to have enough people to ‘limit out’ and make the trip worth the money. Because of the limit rules, and that some people are needing the fish to feed their family through the winter, they drown a few people every summer. And another thing, some of the fish that you might catch are so protected that you cannot take them out of the water. If you, accidentally, catch one you must unhook it in the water. I don’t know how you unhook a wriggling fish in the water but IT’S THE LAW. In the South and most of the Lower 48, you go to the river, creek or lake and you catch fish and whatever fish you catch you keep. Of course, there are limits of some gamefish but mostly you take home what you catch. You catch three Bream, four Catfish and a couple of Perch and they all go home with you for a family fish dinner.dinner I know people in Alabama that just catch and release in both salt and fresh water but even that is mostly against the law up here. I can understand the need to limit the salmon catch but all of the other fish, as well? It makes no sense in a state with only 750,000 residents, millions of acres of land, tens of thousand of acres of rivers, lakes and streams. And most of the year you can’t catch and keep a single damned fish for your dinner, while you are camping out. What is more surreal the State of Alaska spends taxpayer money to stock certain lakes every Spring so that people can go catch a good mess of fish without transgressing some law or regulation. It is truly weird. Hunting up here is like everywhere else. There are seasons, bag limits and there are lotteries for some protected big game like Musk Ox. The result of all of the myriad of convoluted, complicated laws regarding fishing is that I’ve been up here for over four years and have yet to wet a hook. Enough!! No more ranting about the fishing or lack thereof in Alaska. Time for my second cup of coffee and a further delay in getting to the bathroom/laundry room and the mindless towel folding.

Sunrise over the outdoor kitchen.

The dogs just went crazy, again. The moose wandering through the yard drives them nearly insane. All of them are little dogs, mostly or all Chihuahua. All of three of them together seem to think that they are a pack of big wolves and capable to taking down a moose. We can’t let them outside, if there is a moose in the vicinity. They’ll try to chase the moose and the moose will likely try to stomp them to death. All of that yipping and yapping only makes the moose mad and if it has a calf with it it becomes deadly mad. I’ve seem a cow moose, with a calf, chase Taco for about 30 yards and then very nearly stomp poor old Gandie who was simply trying to take a dump in the middle of the road. This incident happened during our first Spring here in Fritz Creek. The current moose visitor has departed and all is quiet again. All I’m hearing aside from the tinnitus ringing in my ears is the fire popping and the little heat driven fans on top of the stove whirling. The sun has, finally, come out to play. The weather forecast was for cloudy skies. The bright sunshine makes me happy. That’s it for the second cup. It’s time to get on with my household chores.

Our Gandie man, a year or two before we had to put him down. He was an excellent companion. He got old and senile. He had no idea who he was or who we were and lost control of his body. Poor old man, I sure do miss him.

29 March 2022 continued…..Two hours later. The bathroom is clean. US Navy training makes me kind of a ’clean freak’. From the looks of that bathroom, however, you’d have never known that bit of info. No matter what your job is in the Navy, your first job is cleaning. 200-300 men on a ship would be a big mess in a hurry if it weren’t for the Navy insisting, demanding that everyone be a cleaner of things. All of the towels got folded and stowed neatly. While I was cleaning, the fire in the stove went out, which was just as well It is currently currently 42F outside. A nice, warm sunny day. If it weren’t for the leftover ice and snow, I’d be out in the mud getting some stuff done. Last fall I took the rear tires off the Land Rover to ascertain what was making the roaring noise at the read. The calipers were, supposedly, bad so I took them off and was planning to replace the brake pads, as well. When I took the caliper off to remove the brake pads the entire rear axle came off with the caliper. I had located the source of the roar. The bearing were none existent. I had never checked the rear end for grease/oil and since the vehicle had been ’professionally serviced’ I saw no point in it. Also, a visual inspection when changing the tires (Summer tires/Winter tires) showed no oil leakage at the ends of the axles or on the rear end itself. What happened to the rear in lubrication is a mystery. What is not a mystery is that ’professional service’ does not include checking the rear end or greasing any fittings (if there are any) on the steering/suspension. They change the engine oil and the filter, collect their small fortune, pat you on your ’little pointy head’ and send you on your way. Apparently, doing anything else entails a potential liability for them. Your car can eat itself but they have no liability for that circumstance. As Rush used to say ”It is what it is”. We bought another Land Rover, with a bad engine, for parts and it is my great hope that the rear end of it is good. There are 27 bolts holding the rear end on on both cars. So it will be 54 bolts out, 27 bolts in, several skinned, bleeding knuckles and without a doubt a great spewing of not nice words.

The Range Rover awaiting the tender mercies of the impact wrench and hammer.

The Pasquale tractor that we’ve used for a bit over three years has started to leak the drive train oil so badly that it is barely usable. The seals on the shaft that drives the back half of the 4 wheel drive work horse are shot. To replace them it is necessary to separate the two halves of the tractor. It sounds simple but I expect to spend all or most of 8 hours just doing that simple task. After that it will require disassembling portions of the front half and the rear half to get to the offending seals. Did I mention that this is an antique? The project after that will be finding the oil seals for and obsolete tractor that the manufacturer no longer supports. This is a special tractor as it is articulated. The unit is jointed in the middle so that the front can move horizontally and independent of the rear half of the tractor. This comes in very handy when you are trying to dump a load of something exactly where it is needed. The horizontal movement is facilitated by a hydraulic cylinder on each side. Turning the steering wheel operates these cylinders. Of course, when you point the front in a particular direction, while you are moving, the back half follows. It, also is articulated vertically. The front end can be at an angle while the rear is level or facing the opposite angle. They were designed in Italy to be used in vineyards and other applications where the ground might be uneven. It is the perfect Alaskan homestead tractor, as far as I am concerned. I have a 600 pound concrete weight attached to the back of the tractor. I have on, occasionally, picked up things heavy enough to lift the back of the tractor and the 600 pound weight off the ground. I put them back on the ground instantly.

The Pasquale sans hood

Well that’s it for me. I’ve got to put on my boots. I’ve got to go collect the eggs and make sure that the chickens and the geese have food and water. “Stay thirsty, my friends.”

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