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.

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