Dad’s Alaska

8 July 2022

Here’s to Summer! All five days were wonderful.

9:00 AM It’s July 8 and it’s 51 F outside and it’s raining. I built a fire in the wood stove. It’s uncomfortably cool and damp. There could not be a more depressing day, at least for myself. While it is technically still Summer but we are starting to get little glimpses into our rapidly approaching cold future. Normally, at this time of year, I have my blackout curtains pulled tight. During the Summer sun is relentless and shining 17+ hours a day and can and does interrupt normal sleep patterns. Almost everyone in Alaska has their blackout curtains pulled tight so as to get some much needed sleep. Yesterday I decided that my bedroom curtains were going to stay open. I’m not too worried about Peeping Toms as I doubt that anyone, and I do mean anyone, wants to see a 77 year old man take off his clothes and go to bed. I’ve been working so much that sleeping is not a problem and I don’t want to miss any of the light. It’ll be dark or darkish for about 17 hours a day very soon and I don’t want to miss any of that gorgeous golden sunshine. I want to go to sleep looking at it and wake up looking at it. Of course, this decision comes a few weeks late. Then there was still bright daylight when I crawl into bed some where between 11 and midnight. Last night at just after 11:00, it was almost dark. Another one of life’s missed opportunities.

If you’ve been to the grocery store or your local gas station, you are likely suffering from ’Sticker Shock’. Now granted, I am old. However, even though it’s been over 60 years since I worked in the grocery store meat market with my father, I cannot believe the prices. I was in our local Safeway a couple of days ago, last Tuesday, I think. Anyway, as Summer, my wonderful and beautiful daughter, is working six days a week delivering the US Mail, I decided that I’d pickup some quick and easy dinner. I was thinking, maybe a roasted chicken, a couple of fresh veggies and something for dessert. I proceeded to the Deli and found that there were only two roasted chickens remaining. I was considering myself fortunate that there was anything left, as this is the tourist season. The Homer economy is geared to the tourist trade, they are like locusts. They clean out virtually everything in both grocery stores. There are aisles that have fewer cans of product than my own pantry. So back to the roasted chicken. I was about to put it into my basket when I decided to check the price. $12.83 !!!!!! Yikes! I quickly put that 2 pound critter back onto the heated shelf. Can you say ’Sticker Shock’? I can remember, while i was still in high school, working in the meat market and that we were selling fryer chickens for 17 cents a pound. For 17 cents a pound we cut them into pieces and wrapped them. I must have parted out a zillion chickens. Rotisserie roasted chickens were about a dollar-twenty-five. Dad roasted them, at least, three times a week and covered them in his special BBQ sauce on Fridays. They made the store smell wonderful. The point of this trip back into the distant past is that while things have become easier in many ways they really haven’t become any better. Food, gasoline and diesel are at the highest prices in the history of America. There is a looming worldwide food shortage and who knows what else whether the lights will stay on. There is an old adage, ”In the Land of the Blind, the one eyed man is king”. I am afraid that the ” man with one eye” will be the government doling out the food. Whoever controls the food controls the people. People will submit to or do anything to feed themselves and their families. The ”New World Order” seems to be the old world order where a few people controlled all of the land and the people were slaves to them. If you haven’t been stockpiling food, you may become one of the slaves. Just two years ago food, and fuel were cheap and plentiful compared to todays’ prices and shortages. The entire American economy is not just in shambles it is a full on disaster. I don’t have to say it but you know who to blame.

With winter rushing toward us like a runaway freight train, I have been busy buying, hauling and processing firewood. Normally, I would stop at 8-9 cords. However, in light of the exorbitant price of fuel oil, this year I’m doing, at least, 12 cords. I’ve heard it said that you aren’t a ‘real Alaskan’ until you’ve had to burn the furniture to stay warm. Two things: Much of the furniture is not flammable and there isn’t more than a day or three of it that is flammable. House empty in three days and then freeze to death. NOPE! This year I am able to buy some Birch logs which are much more dense and burn hotter than the Spruce logs that we’ve had for the past 5 winters. The 500 gallons of fuel oil we normally have in our tank, that is now empty, will likely cost in excess of $2800. I’m guessing the price because I’ve been afraid to ask the price. I do know that we’ll be buying it a hundred gallons (the minimum delivery) at the time, as we can afford it.

The first two cords of security.
Birch rounds
These are some of the limbs off of a huge Birch tree.
The next two cords waiting to be processed.

At last, we are getting the foundation under the house. I had given up. I simply did not possess the necessary skills to fix what was slowly becoming an instant disaster. The house was slowly moving to the point that it would simply fall off the pilings and become a pile of kindling. Dangerous Dan, Summer’s significant other, is an expert in these matters. He has stepped in for free to stabilize the house and get a proper foundation under it. In spite of the free labor, this project will cost about $7000.

This is an older house built, in 1982, on pretty much whatever happened to be handy. Mostly old creosoted power poles and chunks of Spruce logs. None of the sunk more than 2-3 feet into the ground. With every freeze and thaw they moved up and down and slowly but surely leaned toward the downhill side of the house. We had maybe another year before we would be living in a tent and become homeless.

Substantial progress has been made.

Dangerous Dan made a lot of progress in a few days.

Yep, we need to paint on the house. But because the house was apt to become kindling I really had no desire to splash out for several hundred dollars for paint. Paint will likely become a reality next Spring.

Much of my life has been or should have been a TV show called ’How Stupid Can You Be’. I barely graduated from a high school whose year book was call ”Retrospect’. This was a book that sold for $15 that I could not afford to purchase. My only participation in that book was a Senior picture. No accolades. No participation. Just a blank space under my name and I was then and am now okay with that. I learned more in the 3-4 books a week that I checked out of the library than from all of the classes that I took. I do not know why Aristotle and Socrates were interesting for the same reason that Treasure Island, and hundreds of others caught my attention. All through high school, I was forced too visit various Student Counselors whose constant refrain was ”Robert, we know that you can do better than this.” The problem was and is that I couldn’t. I was being smothered. Education then was stultifying and now has lapsed into pure stultifying indoctrination. The NEA was just cranking up when I was in school. Now this same organization is selling ”I’m here, I’m queer and hand me a beer” to the children in kindergarten. I may be wrong but I don’t think that that equates to ”Mom and Apple Pie”.

I joined the Homer VFW a few months back. I haven’t been much of a joiner since a joined the Naval Reserve in 1961 at age 17. I was a pretty good sailor. I did my job. I didn’t do much. I was a Radarman on a ship that refueled other ships at sea. I made three trips to the South China Sea. Mostly boring as hell with moments of sheer terror. The reason I mention this is that I can’t seem to bring myself to go to the VFW Club. I’m not entirely sure why but I suspect that it is because I am afraid that I will meet someone like my late younger brother (Marine Recon) that really is a hero and next to him I’m a slug. My brother was the nicest most gentle man you might ever meet. I was standing next to him when a moron asked him ”Did you ever kill anybody?’ His answer was a classic. He replied ”Only women and children”. After he died from some weird cancer, it occurred to me that what he said was, at least, partially true. The NVA would put a gun in the hands of women and children during a firefight. The American soldiers had no idea who was or wasn’t the enemy. My brother, the poor bastard, had a dump truck load of guilt that he did not deserve. If the Agent Orange cancer didn’t kill him his guilt did. It’s a little late but Semper FI, Brother Doug.

I am back to my old game. I am repairing appliances for the nice folks around Homer and Anchor Point. Obviously, I can use the money but more than that after nearly 5 years of living on this hill mostly alone, I needed to see and talk with other human beings. Making a few bucks is good but interacting with other humans is wonderful. I am happy as a clam in soft sand that I get off this Greer Road hill a few times a week.

Well that’s it for me. It’s 11:42 and I have a refrigerator to repair tomorrow and 2 cords of wood to process. Good Night!

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