Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to Governor DeSantis. He’s doing everything in his power to ready Florida for Hurricane Ian.

All I can say is GOOD LUCK AND GET THE HELL OUT OF FLORIDA!! Talked with my former son-in-law for about a half hour. He, his fellow owners and the staff of some kind of specialty electronics business are busy getting inventory as high as possible. I don’t know exactly what they sell but, apparently, water would not be good for it. Their warehouse is located in a low lying area near Tampa. It’s “All hands on deck” time. There are some high spots around them but they aren’t atop one of those.. My first experience with a hurricane was Hurricane Frederick in Mobile, Alabama. It was September 12, 1979. I had just gotten my portable street sign business to the point that it would begin to make a profit. In the aftermath there was over a week of no electricity and no clean water. My thirty-five 4’x8’ changeable letter portable signs were no where to be found. The adjustable legs that had been staked down through the asphalt parking lots were mostly still right when I pounded them in. $1200 a month in pure profit gone in one night. It, also, totaled my fluorescent light service. Most of my customers were destroyed and when they were rebuilding they were getting all new lighting. No service needed. Hurricane Frederick put me out of both businesses. I was a father of two children with a wife and absolutely no income. So I am acutely aware of the depression, worry and anger that comes with this kind of disaster. When I’m wishing these people in the path of Hurricane Ian “Good Luck”, it isn’t just a throwaway phrase or platitude that you might voice to someone going hunting or fishing. It is a prayer for them and their families safety and a fervent hope that they do not end up homeless and unemployed.

Well the foundation work has progressed to the point that the back of the house is now level. There is one more gigantic hole to be dug on the west corner. When that hole is dug, the concrete pad poured in the bottom and the concrete piling set in place the rear of the house will be not only level but stable. That will not complete the foundation but it is a major milestone. Of course the hole will need to be refilled and I’ll be the one shoveling the two plus yards of wet mucky soil back into the hole. Dan will dig the hole and I will fill it. It seems a proper division of labor since he is 20 years younger than myself. Were it not for Dangerous Dan none of the foundation work would have happened. You can put a price on the work that he has been doing but there in no price large enough for the friendship. He has toiled away every weekend for months stabilizing this old house. Were it not for him Summer and I would likely be homeless by now as the house was, literally, about to fall off it’s foundation.

East end of the new support beam under the back of the house.
The west end of the new support beam for the back of the house. Yep we need to paint next Spring.

It’s Hungry Bear Season again. They are eating everything in sight because they will be hibernating soon. With that in mind, I am being a lot more careful when I’m outside. I have no ambitions to become bear poop. The moose hunting season is over. I do not know anyone that got a moose this year. That might be because I have a very small circle of acquaintances or that the people I know are really bad at hunting. An old joke: What do you call a bad hunter? Answer: Vegetarian. It may not be funny to vegetarians but I still find it amusing. Me, I’m not a hunter. I’m like that comedian in the credit card commercial, “I’m a diner”. 70 or so years ago, I helped my Grandpa Byrd run his trap lines on weekends and I trapped rabbits all winter. I’d check all of my traps before the school bus arrived. I had box traps because Grandpa Byrd wanted them alive and unmarred by a steel trap. He would kill them skin them and tack the skins to cedar boards to dry out. After he had collected hides of various critters all winter, he’d take them to town and sell them. My grandmother would freeze several rabbits every winter and then, sometimes, cook a fresh one for supper. In the fall, after all of the leaves had fallen, Grandpa and I would take his .22 rifle and go possum hunting. I walk through the woods on a sunny day and locate all of the Persimmon trees. That night and for about a week or so we’d go around to all of the persimmon trees and look for a possum to be up in the tree. I’d hold the light and he’d dispatch the critter. Back at the house, with me inside warming up my nearly frozen feet, he’d gut the possum and throw the guts to the hogs. The next day he’d take it to town and sell it for one dollar. Gas was about 17 cents a gallon and we were only about 5-6 miles outside of the little town of Newport, Arkansas. The gas to and from town was about 10-12 cents and the .22 bullet was about 2 cents so every possum was up to 88 cents profit. Doesn’t sound like much but when you are a farm laborer and the farming has stopped for the winter, it amounts to survival money. Before the persimmons had all fallen to the ground we’d kill 6-7 of the marsupial critters and they would feed poor people in town. Even back then, if you were poor, meat was expensive. For many people a 15-18 pound possum was a source of protein and protein is protein regardless of the critter. That part of my early life made me a ‘diner’ and not a hunter. Only the Good Lord himself knows what my grandparents put on the table for us three boys to eat. It could have been pork from one of the hogs or it could have been chicken, catfish, raccoon, possum, muskrat, rabbit, squirrel or fox. I never knew and never questioned where the meat came from I simply ate it because it was all there was to eat. “A country boy can survive”. If this Biden economy keeps crashing, I and many others may have to become hunters again.

It was 32.6F when I got up this morning at 7 AM. We are nearing the time to harvest our smallish potato patch. Neither Summer nor I have had the time to garden this year. We got the potatoes in a little late again this year and it has rained almost nonstop since the end of June. Therefore, I’m not holding out a much hope for a bumper crop of potatoes. With all of the rain they likely have rotted in the ground. After the two or three good frosts and before the ground freezes, we’ll dig them up and see how we did. I suspect that we’ll be lucky to have enough potatoes to make a bowl of potato salad or mashed potatoes. Our entire gardening efforts this year reaped a few tomatoes, no beans, some kale and a crap load of cucumbers. We now have enough pickles to feed a small army. There are dills, sweets and a couple of others of which I have no knowledge. Summer is the Pickle Queen of Fritz Creek. It is likely that neighbors will be receiving pickles as Christmas presents.

It is now Thursday, 29 September and southwest Florida is a disaster area. The cleanup will begin in earnest by Saturday. Right now as I watch the TV they are still trying to rescue some of the silly people that were gonna “hunker down and ride it out”. There is no such thing as “hunker down and ride it out” when you are within a couple of miles of the water. So far the reported death toll has been pretty low. That number is likely to rise significantly once the get around to searching for the missing “hunkered downers”.

The rain here has been almost incessant. Summer has been stacking wood in one of the tents in what passes for a torrential downpour in Fritz Creek. It is a mere shower compared to the afternoon thunderstorm gully washers that we used to experience when living on Mobile Bay. It is still annoying and uncomfortable as the outside temperature is around 46F. The tents are supposed to keep the wood dry and dry out that which is not fully dried. However, the tents are now 3 years old and they aren’t quite as waterproof as the once were. This weekend we’ll be covering them with leftover green house plastic sheeting. They’ll be water and snow proof once again. Whatever doesn’t fit into the tents will be covered in greenhouse plastic right where it lies on the ground. Summer and I are completely done with the wood thing. We’re down to whatever is the easiest.

Up here you can never throw anything away until it is totally and completely destroyed. Even then, if it is mechanical or electrical you might find yourself salvaging stuff ‘that might come in handy someday’. I have a pretty substantial pile of it next to the Conex and some of the stuff that isn’t a waterproof inside the Conex. I’ve always been something of a packrat and living here has exacerbated that tendency in myself. Now I have ‘stuff’. Speaking of stuff the four wheeler has decided not to start. Was going to take it into the local dealer until we realized that it was likely going to cost $700-$800 for them to do the repair. Not to mention that they were not going to be able to get to it for nearly two weeks. They charged $155 per hour for shop work. Geez am I, so obviously, in the wrong damned business. Also, the running lawnmower that I purchased for $300 has decided not to start. It, also, has starter problems. But as luck would have in my ‘stuff’ is a derelict lawnmower with the exact same engine with the exact same starter and it works. NOW, if it would just STOP RAINING, I might get one or both of them repaired. I found out last night that there is a fuse in line with the starter on the four wheeler. We might just get lucky and only have to replace a blown fuse.

Summer and I have been talking about getting new furniture. It’s just talk because we still have ceiling sheetrock to remove in order to rewire this firetrap. This winter when it starts snowing and I can’t work outside it will be sheetrock time. This is going to be about as much fun as having four root canal surgeries at the same time.

Full tents mean happy Bob and Summer

Well that’s about it. I got the starters swapped on the lawnmower and still have the same problem. It’s always something. Summer has just come in from the wood stacking in the rain. Both tents are full and closed as much as possible and that means ten cords stacked. There is another cord or so lying on the ground needing to be tarped. Y’all keep yours chins up. Life may sometimes be tough but it beats the hell out of the alternative ie. six feet of dirt in your face.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to the Queen! A person of real substance in a world filled with politicians, hucksters and liars.

I could have just made the caption on the above read “filled with politicians’ and that would have covered the other two categories. I am apt to overstate the obvious, occasionally. I beg your forgiveness. It occurred to me that when I heard that the Queen had died I was sad. I can remember when she became Queen, I was nine years old and it was a big news event here in the US. Isn’t it odd that you can remember exactly where you were during some big event. I sitting on the floor of my grandparent’s home listening to the radio when she became Queen. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of President Kennedy’s assassination and on 9/11. There are others but those are the three big ones that I clearly remember in spite of my advancing age.

Crawled out of bed this morning at 7 AM instead of my usual 8 AM. I am going to try to break a decades old habit of going to bed at or just after midnight. By getting up an hour earlier, I hope to be able to go to bed and be asleep before midnight. I’ve always had a problem sleeping. I once told a youngish heart doctor that the only way I can sleep is to ‘run the string all of the way out’. She was puzzled and asked what that meant. I had to explain that it meant that I had to be totally exhausted in order to lie down and sleep. I have searched the interweb for the source of that saying but have found nothing. My best guess is that it is from the South and is related to “coming to the end of your rope”. Anyway, if I go to bed only a little tired I will lie awake, sometimes for hours, with my brain sifting through the detritus of my life. Useless thoughts, recriminations, project planning and all manner of things swirl through my pea brain unless my body is totally exhausted. Sometimes, even then, I will lie awake for a long time before sleeping. When I was younger, I slept only 5-6 hours a night. Nowadays, it requires a minimum of 8 hours and, sometimes, when I can’t think of a good reason to leave the bed, it will stretch into 9. I’m hoping that changing my sleeping pattern won’t be as hard as quitting cigars.

Dangerous Dan was digging a hole for another foundation concrete piling. This man is a machine. He dug a 4’x4’x5’ hole today. After he dug this gigantic hole he poured concrete into i wooden form that I built out of scrap lumber. Tomorrow he will put the piling in and refill that gigantic hole. He has done work on the house that i would never be able to do.

The gigantic hole dug by Dangerous Dan and at the bottom the newly poured concrete footing that the concrete piling will sit atop.

One of the 7 concrete pilings to be installed with a temporary post atop it.

Wood has been my life for the past several days. Chainsawed two cords of logs into rounds and then began splitting it. I’m about six weeks from being 78 years old and I can tell you that this would be pretty tough work even if I were almost 38. The splitting has been going well even though it rains off and on almost every day.

The trailer with about half the logs processed into rounds.

The trailer unloaded and the rounds on the ground.

At one point I had the ‘Reverse’ Jenga pile almost 8 feet tall. Then I tossed a small piece on to the top. That piece could not have weighed more than a couple of pounds but it set off a catastrophic failure and about half the pile came crashing down. It reminded me of a logic thing my Grandfather once asked me. “If a camel is carrying all of the feathers on his back that he can carry, can he carry one more?” Logically, if it is carrying all that it can carry the answer is NO but In my 9 year old mind I saw no reason that the camel couldn’t carry one more little feather. He patiently explained to me that when something reaches the limit of it’s ability and you add just one more small thing that ‘something’ will fail. My grandfather had a 3rd grade education but a doctorate in common sense and every man logic.

Jenga in reverse

Jenga resulting in bruised ankles if you do it wrong.

The lopped off end of my finger has healed but it has no real sense of touch or feeling. Bumping it, however, causes pain resulting in a plethora of curse words that can likely be heard a half mile away.

I have been writing this over several days. Things have progressed since two days ago. Dangerous Dan got a new treated 20’x 8×8 beam installed under the back wall of the house. The final wood pilings are not yet installed but the house is already far more stable than it has ever been. There is still another 20 feet of back wall that will need to be supported. I guess that will be next weekend. I finished the wood splitting except for the small ends and pieces. Most of them are less that a foot long so I’ve just been making them into chunks that you can toss onto an already red hot bed of coals and close the damper completely. These chunks will burn for hours. Load up the stove with the chunks and go to bed the house will stay warm for most of the night. When the chunks have, finally, given their all the oil heater takes over until the morning fire is built. Ordered 100 gallons of fuel oil to be delivered this week sometime. The big oil tank (500 gallons) had begun to tilt toward the house due to the frost heaving last winter. Dan helped me level it a bit on Saturday and then I braced it against the house. We added some addition bracing so that it would get through this winter. Next Spring, I’ll have someone lift it off the old ratty stand and build a nice new much more sturdy structure.

Mt. Wood. Elevation 8 feet covering a 14 foot circle containing approx. 600 cubic feet of combustible material. It is one of the Seven Wonders of Fritz Creek, Alaska.

Well that’s it for me. To quote one of my heroes, Red Green. “Keep your stick on the ice.”

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to President Biden who in one speech managed to anger everyone that wasn’t already angry. WAY TO GO, JOE!!!

I didn’t get to watch all of President Biden’s ‘DARTH VADER’ speech. I caught part of it and, quite frankly, I thought that it was a parody. It looked like some talented You Tuber or TikToker had done it just for kicks. After watched for a while and then realized that this was not going to be funny. That is when I moved on to watch an old Clint Eastwood movie, ‘Hang ‘em High’. It was still entertaining and a good movie even after having seen it 2-3 times already. This time the thing that caught my eye was the dude in dude’s clothing. His speech from the gallows was a master piece of cinema. He should have gotten an Academy Award nomination at the very minimum. BUT it was a Western and Western movies were not thought of very highly in those days. Anyway, watching the mentally challenged geriatric Joe Biden did not have much appeal. After all he’d already called me “a semi-facist” and a hater of The Constitution. I dare say that I’ve read The Constitution many more times than Joe. I’ve read The Constitution enough that I know that all of the laws that the Democrats have passed in the past nearly two years are invalid. I know that because Section 5 of Article 1 requires that there must be a quorum present in Congress “to do business”. Present means in the same location. It makes no allowance for anyone to ‘deem a quorum’ for any reason. The only votes that may be counted are those of the people that are present and no vote may be taken without a “quorum”. ALL OF THE LAWS PASSED IN THE PAST NEAR TWO YEARS HAVE BEEN PASSED WITHOUT A QUORUM PRESENT. The Democrat leaders of the Congress and the Senate have been allowing people to vote from where ever they are, even it they are in a foreign country. This is completely un-Constitutional and illegal. But what else would you expect in The New World Order?

This year a synonym for August is RAIN. This was the wettest August on record since they started keeping records in 1952. I’ve been so wet all month that I am growing gills and, also, webbing between my toes and fingers. Here it is in September and it is still raining. I was outside all morning helping Dan, when I could, and getting soaked to the skin. I can’t find my rain gear. I guess I’ll have to buy some more. Anyway, Dan installed another concrete foundation piling under the east end of the house. After the piling was installed he left muttering something about a hot shower and a nap. He’s been getting up early to moose hunt, working his regular job all day and then going back out to hunt moose in the evening. Poor devil is getting up before 5 AM and getting to bed at about 11 PM. Then on his off day he comes here to work on the foundation having moose hunted in the morning and going back out moose hunting in the evening. The man is a glutton for punishment, it seems.

Yesterday, which was September 2, I made the trip to Soldotna to see my wood guy, Jeff. He and his buddy, Eric loaded two cords of spruce logs on my trailer. While they were doing that, I went to the local Honda dealer and put a $500 deposit on a snowblower on tracks. We already have one on wheels. The wheeled version does not do well out here on the rough ground. The wheeled versions are really for town folk with concrete or asphalt driveways. Now with the deposit paid we wait and see if the dealer receives any snowblowers. They are scheduled to arrive late this month. We’ll see.

The trailer load of spruce logs is parked out of the way for the moment. I needed it moved so that I can pull all of our cabinets for our future kitchen out of the big green tent. The chickens have been roosting on top of them and you know what chickens do. I will be scraping the chicken droppings off the boxes and taking them to a place where they’ll be a lot safer, just as soon as it stops raining. I am assuming, of course, that it will stop raining sometime in this decade.

Me and my buddy, Buddy, on a warm sunny day last winter. I know it’s an ugly sweater but it’s warm and it was free.

I don’t remember if I mentioned that I had about 3/8 of an inch of my left index finger pinched off. I disconnected the small trailer and didn’t chock the wheels. The trailer rolled forward catching my finger between the hitch and the ball. Oddly enough it didn’t hurt much then and really hasn’t been very painful at all up until recently. Now every time I bump it against something, I spray a plethora of dirty words into the atmosphere. The nerve endings are not back so the when I touch things it feels as if there is a bandage on my finger. Still any sudden contact with the end of the finger greatly pollutes the atmosphere with exhaled CO2 and dirty words.

My stubby finger with its’ deformed finger nail.

The sun has kinda, sorta come out to play but there is still a problem. It is still raining. My grandmother always said that when it was raining and the sun was shining that “The Devil was beating his wife”. When I was a kid I wondered who would marry the Devil. Today, I’ve kept a small fire going in the stove. The outside temperature now is up to 52.8F according to the digital thermometer. It was 47.2 earlier. The inside temperature is 73F and I like it. While there has been no full sun there has been enough solar radiation through the clouds to heat the house some. When I lived down on Mobile Bay, 73F would have been considered a cool day. Here in Alaska 73F is very warm day. We don’t see many, if any of those days in an average summer.

Well it has stopped raining so it is time to go to work. Ciao!!