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.”

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