Your Millennials have been indoctrinated (nay programmed) to think that all of their ideas and thoughts are not only original but brilliant. Even though they were all given a trophy with no achievement, they think they have accomplished some mythical task. Praise for failure and ‘self esteem’ boosts with no effort to excel. “Very good Cindy 2+2 can equal 5, if you want it to”. These over-educated, under-knowledged robots are destroying history. They have no concept of history. They haven’t been taught history (Ancient, World or American) so they have no idea that the majority of their brilliant thoughts have already been thought. The vast majority of all ideas put forth by these Millennials have already been tried and failed miserably. Their current big idea, Socialism, has failed dozens of times. Not only has it failed, it has murdered 100,000,000 plus humans and polluted much of the earth.. The murdering and polluting continues in Socialist/Communist countries around the world. You likely can’t find a single Millennial that recognizes the fact that America is the least polluting industrialized major nation in the world. The European Union (Pop. 340 million after deducting the Great Britain’s 70 million population) is far more polluted and poverty stricken. They have a standard of living, on average, about half that of the US. WHY? Socialism is the answer. Socialism/Communism is always the answer when you ask why a particular country is poverty stricken. India is a prime example of a socialist, mass polluting, poverty stricken country. A few people are very wealthy and the balance live in abject poverty. That, also, explains why so many Indians immigrate to the US.
Spent much of the day building a goose house. We’re using an already fenced area (last summer’s garden) to round up and keep the geese in one place for the winter. The geese have been running loose and making nuisances of themselves for over a year. We had intended to fence in an area for them this past summer. The problem is that reality got in the way of progress. Same for the chickens with the same results. Chickens and the three remaining ducks will be living in the greenhouse for the balance of the winter. Winter is upon us with the concomitant problems.
The goose house construction consists of two packing crates in which Dan had windows delivered. They, by happenstance, were of the same dimensions in length and width. One was deeper than the other but stacked atop one another they created a container tall enough for a goose to stand up inside. A couple of 2x4s, two sheets of plywood, some other scraps and several pallets made up the balance of the snow blocking enclosure.
23 November 2020 Monday
I spent part of the day getting electricity to the goose house. I wanted to keep the power cord off the ground so that it would not get tangled in the snow blower or be frozen down so solidly that it could not be retrieved until April. I scrapped around through my junk looking for something to create a mast. I found a piece of 2×2 and a crutch. The crutch was one of a pair that I’ve been hauling around for over 20 years. I never needed them again, couldn’t give them away (Salvation Army has dozens of them) and never found any other use for them. By screwing the crutch onto the 2×2, I was able to get the power cord almost 10 feet off the ground. Problem solved.
The next challenge was to move the water trough to a position next to the goose house. The moving was easy but hauling 10 gallons of water to it whilst walking in the snow was a challenge. When I, eventually, got the water into the trough I plugged in the heater to keep the water from freezing. After that I shoveled a big pile of snow on top of the water to finish filling the trough. You can see that in one of the pictures above.
The balance of the day was spent bringing in firewood, picking up stuff that the snow had not yet covered and, generally, taking care of things that had inside that had been neglected because of all of the work outside.
24 November 2020 Tuesday
Snow still on the ground but the need to go to Home Depot in Kenai overrode the trepidation of getting out onto the roads. They take very good care of the roads close to town, The roads out of town get a lot less attention. This hills will be sanded but the valleys in between are often neglected. I was supposed to go to Anchorage today to get cataract surgery. I listened to the weather forecast yesterday morning and with that information. and the possibility that Summer had been exposed to the Dreaded Covid, I decided to put off the eye surgery until next spring. The Chugach Mountain road, while very good, is very curvy and at a fairly high altitude. The mountains are a 140 miles or so north of Fritz Creek and has passes that are at 1000 feet or so. These roads are subject to avalanches especially after it rains. Rain was part of the weather forecast that stopped my trip. Also, some of the curves on this road are inverse pitched. This means that if you slide you are likely sliding to the outside of the curve and the outside is often a drop off of several hundred feet. I may have mentioned this previously but let me reiterate. “I am allergic to death.” Anyway, I toddled off to Kenai with a great deal of care. They road indeed had some bad patches but was in overall pretty good shape. Since I am, because of the cataracts, very night blind I was in a hurry to get to Kenai and back before dark. I hurried every chance I got and when I got to Home Depot, Wal Mart and the Three Bears Grocery stores I rushed as much as possible. Home Depot took nearly forever as the clerk ignored me for over over 10 minutes, while I stood at the Return Desk. She processed three other customers before turning to me and telling me that she had to use the register that she was on. I was just a little peeved but remembered just in time that there is no cure for stupid and no point in arguing with an idiot. She was a polite idiot but an idiot nevertheless. It took her near 10 minutes to sort out the receipt and return two pieces of stove pipe I’d purchased last week. Twenty very long minutes were spent with me pacing in place with the extreme need to get to the restroom all the way across the building. At last, with cash in hand, Suzy and I dashed across the store cursing those ambling shoppers who seemed to have no particular destination in mind. Sometimes, store traffic reminds me of vehicle traffic in Florida. You’ve got a bunch of people on the road with no where to go and in no hurry to get there. Many of these impediments to progress are a bunch of old farts. I used to tell Connie that “If all of these damned old people would get out of the damned way I could get to where I was going in the same decade”. Of course, I was in my late 60’s when I was saying that. I’m sure everyone has seen some of these people just meandering up and down the aisles of your favorite store with little or nothing in their basket and stopping every three feet to look at something. These are the same people who will get side by side on the freeway, block both lanes and with me directly behind screaming “Get the hell out of the way, you stupid @#**+@#s”. Wal Mart and Three Bears went pretty quickly. Except that at Wal Mart I became mesmerized and found myself wandering aimlessly like the people I’d just been cursing at Home Depot. Anyway, with my purchases made, a sandwich from the deli and a full tank of diesel, I hit the road for home. The road home was, virtually, ice and snow free. The temp had risen to the mid thirties and the road had absorbed enough heat to be clear but wet. I made it home just thirty minutes before dark. Enough time to bring in firewood and feed the critters. With myself safely ensconced in my easy chair I sipped a well deserved bourbon and coke. Yep. I went for the bourbon instead of the vodka today.
I got a haircut today. Paid $15 instead of the $25 going rate for Homer. The woman barber complained that my hair could have been cleaner. I’d showered Sunday night and had not been sweating. I think the problem lies in the fact that every couple of days I have to change the oil in my hair. I wasn’t going to shower until I got a haircut. I don’t want to go to bed at night and be breathing in loose hair. In addition, we don’t live in town on city water so our water is delivered. Water is an expensive commodity that you can’t afford to waste. My hair may have been a little greasy but I’m pretty sure I didn’t stink as I put on clean clothes daily. I might wear a pair of jeans twice. This isn’t Florida where you sweat all year round.
It was a heat wave today. The temperature got up to just over 33F. I still had to wear gloves and a hat but it was remarkably warm for this time of the year. Summer told me that it will probably start raining tomorrow. Rain instead of 8 inches of snow will be a good thing. I still have a crap load of stuff that needs to be picked up before the snow, even though I’ve spent much of the day picking up and storing stuff. I finished picking up and stacking the last of the firewood fairly quickly. A couple of hours of avoiding distractions (that would lead to sidetracks that would lead to a point where none of the tasks would get completed) got that chore completed pretty quickly.
The 20 year old Range Rover is making some kind of weird noise at the rear wheels. I removed one of the rear wheels for an inspection. The was no obvious problem to account for the scraping noise it makes when the wheels are turning. Also, there isn’t any consistency in the noise. Sometimes it makes a lot of noise and sometimes it makes none. It is a mystery. I’m thinking that the non-factory lug nuts may be allowing the wheel to move on the lug studs. This could account for the problem as they are somewhat smaller that the factory version. Tomorrow, I’ll swap out the lug nuts. We bought a junk Rover of the same make and model. It has a bad engine but is full of good parts we may need to keep our Rover on the road. It has five good tires, a new battery amongst those good parts. Only paid $500 for it and the tires and rims are worth more than that. Had to put the ‘new battery’ into our Rover a couple of weeks ago as the tractor battery died and I had more use for the tractor more than the Rover. Oddly enough, the Rover with new battery installed had to be jump started almost every time we wanted to use it. I, presumably, solved that problem by disconnecting the battery after every use. Connecting and disconnecting the battery was a pain in the ass. It seemed that the Rover had a short in the electrical system that kept draining the battery and it was the most simple of all possible solutions. That was until the damned car wouldn’t start when the battery was reattached. Summer took the battery back to the parts store where it was purchased and it tested to have an internal short. I suspected that the Rover had a short somewhere I just didn’t expect it to be in the battery. The nationally known auto parts chain store did not want to warranty the battery because we weren’t the original purchaser of said battery. Talked with my friend, Bill Enright, in Clearwater, Fl and happens to work for the same chain. He told me that that was company policy, no exceptions. I was disappointed and resigned to buying another $150 battery He, also, told me to have that store manager call him that he’d get me a new battery at cost. Now I was down to a $100 battery and was still not happy about it. I guess I’m one of those people my Dad often described as “You couldn’t make them happy if you hung them with a new rope”. I never understood what that meant until I got to thinking about it just now. A new hemp rope is oily and the rope will slide easily through the 13 coils of the noose. The ease and quickness gives a sharp snap of the neck and a quick death. An old rope might slide more slowly and the poor soul would just hang and slowly choking to death for several minutes. So chronic complainers don’t appreciate whatever you do for them and would complain if you hung them with a new rope. I guess I’ll just rethink my complaint and resign myself to buying the new battery.
Later Summer came home from work we discussed the damnable battery again. I asked if her friend, who originally bought the battery, would return the battery and have it warranted. I was still trying to avoid the noose. A quick text received no answer. The $100 noose was tightening.
18 November 2020, Wednesday
Well, it’s a day later and the rain did not come as was predicted, by Summer and The Weather Channel, a couple of days ago. Today, I have a laundry list of chores that need to be done. Take the factory lug nuts off the ‘parts’ Rover and put them on the ‘good’ Rover. This entailed removing two lug nuts from each Rover and swapping their location. I did it that way in order to avoid the need to jack up one and then the other. All that jacking cars up and down would have taken a half day. Even the swapping them two at the time took over an hour. Take off two lug nuts, walk 40 yards to the other car take off two lug nuts and replace them with the ones from the other car. It took 7 roundtrips as the 24 volt impact gum wouldn’t remove them from the good Rover. This led to needing a 24″ breaker bar to loosen the nuts and a trip to the Conex. Got two off and went to the ‘parts’ car only to find out that the lug nuts were a different size and had to make another trip to get a larger socket and the breaker bar. After that it was pretty simple and only entailed a bunch of walking back and forth. I still had no battery for the ‘good’ Rover so I was unable to test for the noise. Summer was still hauling the battery around hoping to hear from her friend. Much of the balance of the day was spent moving stuff and getting small stuff off the ground so that it wouldn’t end up choking the snowblower. We were given a new snowblower during the summer. The owner never used it and was selling his house and wasn’t going to need it. Also, he couldn’t get it started because he hadn’t treated the gasoline that he’s put in when he brought it home the previous winter. I guess, he figured that no one would buy it. I ordered a carburetor for it ($18) and it runs like a champ. I shoveled paths to everything last winter. Good physical exercise but an exercise in futility when the paths fill up after every snow event. I shoveled the necessary paths, at least, 10 times last winter. 2F and sweating profusely, even after shedding much of the heavier winter clothing, was not fun. When you stop working you are instantly very cold. The low humidity makes the sweat evaporate and evaporative cooling sets in. Frostbite in minutes, if you don’t get somewhere warm.
In the last sentence of the previous paragraph, I had to go back and put a comma after the word ‘minutes’. I cannot tell you the punctuation rule that says there must be a comma preceding the word “if” in a sentence like that. My Hueytown High School English teacher was at her wits end trying to teach me the Rules of Grammar. She was a rotund, red faced woman whose face became even redder when dealing with my ignorance. I’d take the grammar tests and get the correct answers but had no clue why they were the correct answers. We alternated with six weeks of Grammar and then six weeks of Literature. I made C’s in Grammar because I could not explain the reason for the punctuation or identify any part of any sentence. Diagraming a sentence was about the same as Egyptian hieroglyphics. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. I made A’s in Literature because I would, unlike many of my fellow students, would read the books. That’s way more than enough information excavated from the Jurassic period of my life.
Summer arrived from her work early enough for me to put the defective battery back in and to jump start the Rover. It and the trailer were in Summer’s parking spot. I moved them to a place near the wood splitting debris. I intend to scoop it up and use it as kindling. Having already shredded wood chips and bark for kindling saves a lot of hatchet work and, potentially, fingers. After moving the Rover we moved the three bee hives into the new plant store/greenhouse. I don’t think that they have survived the cold spell we had last week. If they didn’t that would be another $900 poured down a ‘rathole’. Two years of bees, $1800 in bees and bee supplies and we’ve managed to sell maybe $150 worth of honey. Bee keeping is beginning to look like a losing proposition. Summer likes the idea of bee keeping but the realities of bee keeping in Alaska are beginning to set in.
19 November 2020 Thursday
Spent the entire day doing one small chore after another. The downstairs bathroom drain pipe for the bathtub and the hand sink was frozen during the past weekend. I spent a couple of days, off and on, looking for a heat tape that I had just taken off a pipe in the water house last week. I hunted in vain and never found it. I had Summer purchase a new one on her way home yesterday. Today I managed to get it installed today.
Summer’s part time job has recently been including Fridays. Her current off day is Thursday. It seems every Thursday she has errands to run in town. This keeps us from having any continuity in effort. She had a 28-30 hour a week job until this COVID idiocy set in. She has been getting only 14-15 hours a week until someone went on vacation Short hours are not good for the old pocketbook. Pocketbook is such an odd word. I just looked it up. Apparently, in the 1700s people carried a small book in their pocket. In that book the kept notes as well as folding in bills and other materials pertinent to their daily life. It was a small book that you carried in your pocket hence “pocketbook”. My late stepmother always referred to her purse as her “pocketbook”. Never ever wondered about it until now. I guess it must be a ‘Southern Thing’. Anyway, getting back to Summer’s inconvenient employment situation. She seldom worked Fridays before the COVID stupidity set in. That meant we had a 3 day weekend every weekend to get work done here (even if she did have to run into town for something) on the “homestead”. Homestead is a word I don’t really like. It implies a rough life with few amenities like ‘Gilligan’s Island”. It starts with “No Phones, no ??? etc. We are living nothing like that. There is a lot of work to be done but we do have phones and motorcars and quite a lot of ‘luxuries” like running water and flushing commodes.. The problem is that I can’t really think of a word aside from ‘homestead”. “Here at the house” just doesn’t seem to convey enough information and “homestead” seems to me to be an overstatement. And here I am off on another sidetrack. Sorry. The upshot, of the truncated employment plus the inconvenient Friday employment along with the Thursday full of errands, is that I’m working alone most of the time trying to get us ready for winter.
20 November 2020 Friday
We were going to have the geese fenced in by now. But one thing leads to another and we spent much of last weekend replacing the stove pipe on the wood heater. The double wall metal pipe had rusted at the joints and when we took them down, Thursday was a week ago, the inner pipes fell out. They were an unseen fire hazard. Our reason for taking them down was to replace the single wall pipe inside the house and to thoroughly clean them. The stove was not drafting properly and we thought that cleaning the pipes might improve that situation. The new pipe is stainless steel and, for some reason, cost less than the ordinary steel pipe we’d been using. The replacement of the piping has not solved the draft problem on the stove. Until moving here, I had never used a wood stove for heat. My inexperience seems to be a big part of the problem. Today I used a big vacuum cleaner to blow through the intake air tube thinking that it might have been blocked. After blowing it out for several minutes, I built a fire. The drafting problem still exists. Fire burns fine as long as the door is open but diminishes greatly as soon as the door is closed. It is not getting enough air to sustain proper combustion. It’s a mystery and I have no clue. Fortunately, it has been relatively warm mid to high 30s for the past few days. Heat is not a pressing problem at this point.
I am going to need to solve this problem before it gets really cold. Don’t know how or when, but it must be done. It’s either that or buy a new stove for $1000+. This stove is only three years old. It shouldn’t be having this kind of problem. One of the things I did accomplish today was to scoop all of the splitting debris up and put it into the trailer. There was still more stacking, covering and storing of loose gear and lumber today.
The Rover is still making the scraping noise. I jacked it up and took off the left rear tire. I, at first, thought that it might be the axle bearing. But it is doing the same thing on both sides. Both rear wheels are making the same noise. That both axle bearing would be defective, with no apparent leakage of the axle lubricant, seems pretty slim. There was no visible shiny metal to indicate where the rim might have been scraping on something. With the tire removed it does does not make the noise but as soon as the tire is replaced the noise returns. It’s another damned mystery. Fortunately, unlike wood stoves, I know a lot about cars. I will sort out this problem sooner or later. Today I just didn’t have time to pursue the problem.
I was walking between the Conex and the house when I noticed a water leak just under the edge of the house. A closer look found that the temporary repair of a burst pipe from last year had burst again. The only reason that I was aware of this re-bursting of the pipe is because the newly installed heat tape had defrosted the pipe. Because of last years’ ‘temporary’ repair no further repair can be made. I unplugged the heat tape and bid the pipe farewell and good luck. It is my good intention to remodel that bathroom this winter. I remodeled the upstairs bath this past summer.
It started raining at about 3PM. Mostly just a drizzle. I took this as a warning to get my outdoor efforts wound up ASAP. The temp was in the high 30s and while there was an occasional snow flake they were melting immediately. About 4:30 it began to rain in earnest and the wind began to blow. The wind and the rain were continuing when I went to bed at about midnight. I’m guessing, but I suspect that the wind speed exceeded 40 MPH in some of the gusts. The howling wind did not disturb my sleep.
21 November 2020 Saturday
Spent much of the day writing and rewriting this blog. Whilst pecking away at the keyboard, I’ve been cogitating about this wood stove mystery. I decided that blowing through the fresh air intake may have been wrong. Perhaps, sucking back through the vent might dislodge whatever was keeping the air flow stifled. I tried that and then blew back through it again. After that I built a fire and it seemed to be working properly. I don’t know that anything I did was responsible but the damned thing seems to be working now. Summer suggested that it might be that the wood is wet from lying outside in the rain where it has been frozen and thawed several times. That could be a portion of the problem. I’m beginning to suspect that another problem might be that we split it into pieces that are too large and that we don’t have enough smaller pieces to make the fire hot. The large pieces were meant to burn slower and sustain the fire over longer periods of time. I’m thinking that between the damp and the size that the problem is that we are simply not getting them hot enough to sustain a fire. They tend to be smouldering rather than burning. Mystery solved, I hope.
What was left of the day was spent in housework. The rain I wanted turned into a monsoon during last night. The entire place is a muddy mess except where we’ve spread tons of gravel. We had hoped to move the Boathouse and pen in the geese today. However, the rain continued until about noon at which time it became rain and snow and later just snow. The temp was still above freezing so the snow was melting almost as fast as it hit the ground adding to the muddy mess. It was funny to watch the geese prancing around with snow on their backs. I recently placed four 50 lb. bags of feed in the greenhouse where we’ve been feeding the critters. Summer went out late this afternoon to feed them and found that the top bag had been opened. After some discussion we decided that the geese had just helped themselves to the feed. Geese are very smart.
Summer’s friend, Toni texted back. They had been out of town and they would be more than happy to take the battery back for a warranty replacement. Summer took the battery to their house. Haven’t heard back from her but I’m hoping that they got the battery replaced. $100 here, a $100 there and pretty soon you are talking about real money.
Tomorrow I start the eyeball meds that precede my Wednesday lens replacement. The cataracts have become worse. The little ones that the eye doctor saw 5-6 years ago have grown to be teenagers. Like teenagers they have become a damned nuisance. Driving at night is pretty scary when the parallax makes it so that you can’t see the road. I have stopped driving at night for fear of killing myself or worse killing someone else. My left eye is the worst and the first to be repaired. I’m driving to Anchorage during the day on Tuesday and driving home during the day on Thursday. I know it’s Thanksgiving but no one is having any kind of group dinner. Summer, Dan and myself are having dinner when I get home. I’ve never really liked turkey. No turkey here. We’re having pulled pork BBQ and shredded beef BBQ, potato salad, baked beans, homemade yeast bread, sweet tea, two kinds of pies (Pumpkin and Lemon Meringue) and coconut chocolate chip cookies. That should be enough food for three people for most of a week. I feel sorry for them fools eatin’ overcooked dried out turkey. Anyway,
Tomorrow you get to vote. You have not only the right to vote but the responsibility to get out and vote. If enough of you don’t bother to vote, we will, eventually, lose that right to vote and we’ll be in a society where you are forced to vote. It has happened all through the last century. 200 MILLION people died. They were murdered and starved to death in these countries where you are required to vote or else. The leader must receive 98% of the vote and you are forced to vote for whatever Fearless Leader (dictator) is on the ballot. The Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, Venezuela and almost all of the Middle Eastern countries. Even today there is continuing murder of the citizens of many of these countries. So-o-o, Fellow Campers, use your right to vote for whomever you want before you are required to vote for the Fearless Leader.
Yesterday, I achieved another milestone. I reached the ripe old age of 76. One unusual thing that happened was that the night when I was born there was a Blue Moon. The night when I turned 76 was a Blue Moon. I’m hoping this doesn’t portend my imminent demise. This was the first time there was a Blue Moon on Halloween night in 76 years. I was born at 1:00 AM on November 1st under that same Blue Moon. In the event, you don’t know what a Blue Moon is , here is the definition. A Blue Moon is a 2nd full moon in a same month. It is a rarity that caused the old saying “Once in a Blue Moon”. Meaning that a particular event happens very rarely.
The continued effort to prepare for winter is in full swing. We spent part of yesterday afternoon splitting and stacking firewood. We had a little dusting of snow early Thursday morning. Normally, this light dusting of snow would have melted almost immediately. However, the event of the snow, also, brought lower temperatures. Recent nights have been down as low as 12F at night. Fortunately, during the day it warms to 21-22F. This temperature range isn’t a real problem, if you dress for it. Up until yesterday, I would find myself starting to sweat which meant I had to change to a less heavy coat. Yesterday the wind began to blow with gusts up a near gale force. The high wind and the 21F temperature made for a slightly uncomfortable afternoon. We kept on splitting and stacking wood until 5:30 by then the temperature had dropped to about 18F. At this time of the year it is completely dark by 6:30. I spent most of the morning installing the last two support posts under the front of the house. All three new posts are sitting on 16-18 inch thick concrete footings. Moving all of those 80 lb bags of concrete was a chore. Slogging through the ankle deep mud to mix and pour the concrete was just about all a 76 year old man could manage. Moving and cutting the posts was a lot easier. The installation of the posts was a breeze compared to the concrete. The front of the house is now level again. I can now lower the middle and back wall of the house to match the front. The effort to do this little project was almost beyond my ability. I have begun to feel that I might be losing a step. I have, jokingly, remarked that I’m like a 3 day old package of chicken, in the meat case at your favorite grocery store, I am getting very close to my “Sell by date”. I been thinking of it as preparing Summer for the day that I won’t be able to ‘answer the bell’ or maybe, even, get out of bed.
The next project, after the completion of the wood splitting and stacking, is to crawl under the house and remove the shims to lower the house to a point somewhere near level. The leveling will mark the beginning of the removal of sheetrock on the ceilings so that the house can be rewired. I have been scared silly that some part of the half-assed amateur wiring is going to kill us in our sleep. There are multiple wires in Summer’s room that are terminated in one 4×4 box. There are so many protruding out of the box that the idiot doing the wiring could not put a cover on the box. All of the wires were wire nutted together outside of the box. When we first moved in, I checked these wires and found several of them were just barely connected and/or connected with the wrong size of wire nut. Either of these are potential fire hazards. I repaired them as best I could by installing a box extension and a cover but that doesn’t really solve the entire problem. I have 5 smoke alarms and 3 Carbon Monoxide alarms posted through the house. I am more than just a little bit paranoid. We got a bit of a scare last night. I had the wood stove dampered down for the night. I had been in bed for less than an hour when the smoke alarm in the upstairs hallway started beeping. The beeping started Summer’s dogs to begin barking. The barking caused my dog to start barking. It was all of that barking and beeping that woke up both Summer and myself. The house was pretty smoky and I hurried around trying to find the source. I discovered that we were not, in fact, on fire. I took a look at the wood stove and discovered that the high winds were blowing down the stove pipe and forcing the smoke out through the combustion air inlet. I had, for three previous winters, meant to connect that through a wall vent to the great outdoors. This was a problem we’d never had before. Now my project for today is to put the hole in the wall and start drawing our combustion air from outside and putting the smoke outside when we get back pressure from the wind. It’s always just one more little thing that needs to be done.
We have run a ‘Garage Sale’ for the last two weekends. The first weekend brought in over $1000. The second weekend brought in less than $100. The problem was that no one wanted to come out in the snow. Now we only need another $4000 or so to pay for the inventory for Summer’s business. She started her business, Greer Rd Greenhouse, with the hope of being able to raise the $10,000 by January. We may get very close and not have to cancel some of the Spring inventory. Like Poker we are ‘all in’ here in Fritz Creek. We have money to finish the house but I’m concerned that her under capitalized business will die on the vine. I’m considering selling, Spike, my 2016 Dodge Ram 4WD 3500 is worth a minimum retail of $36k here in Alaska. I don’t really need the big truck anymore. I can buy a good used truck for $6000-$8000 that will suit our current needs. We no longer have the bi36′ travel trailer and I’m using a $36k heavy duty truck to haul trash and, occasionally, lumber and other supplies from Home Depot. This does not make sense. The proceeds, if any, will go to finance Summer’s business.
Again this year, we don’t have a proper chicken house and the ground has frozen so I won’t be putting a fence up to container these critters. I guess we’ll be putting them in the greenhouse the same as we did last winter. The construction of Summer’s business took me almost six weeks. It had to be constructed for the fall ‘Bulb Season’ and needed to be ready before the February Spring sales season begins. Summer sold all of the Garlic bulbs and about 25% of the flower bulbs. She learned this season that garlic bulbs are the money makers. Next season she will be heavily into garlic bulbs and a whole lot lighter on the flower bulbs. Every business is a crap shoot. I’ve never started a business that did not make money. I’ve closed several that were making some money but were more trouble than they were worth. This time I’m not in control. To say that I don’t like not being in control would be just a teensy bit of an understatement.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday were beautiful, sunny days. I arose this morning to pizzling rain, and a cold wind out of the northwest. A raw, cold cutting wind that just cut right through three layers of shirts and sweaters like I was standing outside naked. This weather almost makes me look forward to snow. Went back into the house and got my lined rain jacket. That made things much better. We got mud, mud and more mud. Where we don’t have mud we have rocks. The temperature is a balmy 40 F. without the wind it would be tolerable and any activity would have you shedding a layer of outer clothing. We seem to never get rain in the summer when we need it for the gardens and to fill the duck ponds.
Funny, to me, I got a call from a polling operation. They were, obviously, push polling so I told them what they wanted to hear. Yep, I’m voting for Biden, Gross an all of the Democrats. At least, that’s what I told them. I usually hang up on the pollsters but I thought this might be fun. He asked the same questions about 4 different ways. His problem was that I am really good at taking tests. If you’ve ever taken a test for a job, you’ll remember that the often ask the same question several different ways. The test is designed to trip you up. Unless you can remember how you answered the last permutation of the question, you might answer the next version differently and cause you to not get the job. Anyway, he hung up fully certain that he’d just talked with a loyal Liberal Democrat. He was happy and I got to amuse myself for a few minutes.
We’ve been running a “garage sale” in the tent/greenhouse. Now that the bulb planting season is over we have no garden stuff to sell that can be planted in frozen ground. The ground has. been kind of crusty frozen for several of the past mornings. It thawed later in the day but this is the bellwether announcing that the hard as rock ground is not too far away. The sale was pretty good Friday and Saturday but today has been a bust. Since there were no customers braving the rain, we started unloading storage containers out of the loft of the storage tent. 16×20 with an attic built in and slam full of stuff we no longer need or want. The only things in the tent that we really want and need are the new cabinets for the kitchen. The kitchen installation has been delayed and then delayed and then delayed some more. Summer and I are both sick of the half-assed kitchen we’ve been using. Not only that we’re living amongst neatly stacked boxes of hardwood flooring that cannot yet be installed. Both of these projects are held up by the need for the final leveling of the house. That grinding task is still a few days away. I’m still waiting for the new concrete footings to be fully set. I’ve been advised to allow them to set for, at least, three weeks because of the lower temperature since they were poured. In the mean time, we are just going to continue the sell off of our excess personal property for an additional week.
26 October 2020 Monday
Woke up at 6:00 AM to a deluge of water falling from the sky and the wind rip roaring around and shaking the house. Today, in spite of the rain and the wind, I’m doing a dump run this morning. After the dump run, I’m changing the truck over to my studded winter tires as it has been snowing in the passes on the way to Anchorage. Will be checking the front disc brake pads. I may need to replace the the brake pads and have the discs turned. We have put some 50,000 miles on these brakes. I’m fairly certain that I’m doing brake work today. I hate brake work but the local mechanics would charge well over $350 to do a job that will cost only about $100 for parts and paying for the discs to be turned. I understand ‘overhead’. However, for a job that would take them about an hour, I can’t bring myself to donate $250+ to their profit margin. It will end up taking me 3-4 hours because of having to wait for the discs to be turned. I guess I’m just a miserly old man.
Tomorrow I’m off to the big city of Anchorage. Anchorage is the stinky armpit, maybe crotch, of Alaska. It is a crime infested, vagrant filled Lib/Prog/Communist craphole. When in Anchorage, I only get out of my truck at the supply house and to pump fuel. I really don’t want to become an Anchorage crime statistic. The Mayor of Anchorage just had to resign for emulating Bill Clinton behavior. The reason for the trip is that Summer has merchandise, for her garden center business, that needs to be picked up. My trip will cost about $80 and the freight to have the stuff delivered would be about $200. I’ll drive the 430 mile round trip which will save $120. It takes about 4 hours to drive to Anchorage. The day will be close to 10 hours from home to home. I’ll be leaving before daylight and I have a real problem seeing at night. Cataract surgery is being scheduled. This will be a nice change and a good trip for Suzy and myself. She hasn’t been anywhere in several months and I think she gets bored at staying home. I know, for certain, that I do.
Well, I’m off to the dump. Y’all do your best to behave.
Vodka is a deserved reward for a job done well, or just okay, and sometimes when the job goes completely sideways. Nothing of any great importance has transpired since Monday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were just hours of dragging long unused items from inside the house and the Conex. I am selling tools. I have always told anyone that would listen “Never sell tools”. Yet here I am selling tools. I have a bonafide, excellent excuse for this heresy. Take drill motors for instance.. I have a Milwaukee 1/2″ Holeshooter that is almost as old as Summer. Still works like a champ. I have a Black&Decker 3/8″, I have 4-18 volt RYOBI Cordless units, and a 18 volt RYOBI Impact drill. I, also have a drill press. All of this drilling horsepower led me to selling the Black&Decker. Sometimes it’s just time to weed the garden and I’m probably going to really miss that B&D even though I haven’t used it in the past couple of years. Unfortunately, in these trying times, sacrifices have to be made. The bottom line is that, if I own more than two of a particular tool one has to walk the plank. The number of some tools of the same ilk in my possession was a little alarming. he number of tools still new in the box was horrifying. I had no idea that I was hoarding tools. I was always buying them with the caveat that I would, eventually, need that left handed pipe wrench or the chrome molybdenum counter rotating grommet remover. I have an Oxy-Acetylene setup on a cart with two tanks, brand new hoses and regulators that I bought 5 years a go from an estate sale. I have never used it. When I watch that TV show ‘Hoarders’, I’m thinking “Boy, these people are really stupid”. BUT are they more stupid than a guy who buys and hoards tools that he will likely never use? Probably not. Unfortunately, a lot of men suffer from the same, nearly incurable, ailment. I’m going do this the same way I quit smoking 30+ years ago. I’m going to get rid of the tools just like I got rid of the cigarettes, I’m going ‘cold turkey’. It might not be easy but rarely is anything of value achieved easily. An odd story about my quitting. When I quit, I decided to give the near two cartons of cigarettes to a guy I really didn’t like. He took them gladly and this is where the odd thing came in. He went cold turkey and quit a couple of weeks later. Magic cigarettes??
Today was the first day of the sale. For reasons that need not be discussed, we did not get the garage sale open until nearly 1:00 o’clock. Well, I guess it would be alright to discuss the reasons we didn’t get open. Summer had an important conference call and I drank coffee and listened to Rush Limbaugh until the show ended at 11:00. I wanted to hear what he had to say about the ‘debate’ on Thursday evening. I listened to some of the debate but turned it off after about 20 minutes. Honestly, I just can’t stand to hear Mr. Biden talk. I’m sure that some of you have had the experience of someone’s voice grating on your every nerve. There is no logic or sense to it but that is Mr. Biden’s voice for me.
Anyway when the sale, at last, began there were very few customers. It was after all a work day so I suspect that was the reason for the paucity of paying customers. About 5 o’clock when Summer was about to call it a day there were several customers that had, apparently, just gotten off from work. So in spite of the late start it turned into a pretty good sales day.
I guess that gets you up to date on our trials and tribulations here in Fritz Creek.
Yesterday, Monday, involved a trip to the big city of Soldotna. This was necessary to get the estimates to repair the bubble fenders on my truck, Spike. One I damaged when the truck slid sideways and bumped the big tank.. DENT!!!! The tank was fine the truck was injured to the tune of $4300. The other side was damaged (Crumpled and dented) by a hit and run in the Home Depot parking lot. This bit of fun had an estimated repair cost of almost $6000. I’m not sure that USAA is going to repair it or decide to scrap it. I guess I’ll get that answer in a few days.
Also, went shopping. Went first to Fred Meyers, a division of Kroger, and could find almost nothing on my list. The place is so jumbled up and disorganized that I, finally, gave up and went to Wal Mart. At Wal Mart they wanted me to wear a mask but I showed them my list with ‘masks’ at the top. That satisfied the young lady and I was allowed to continue on my quest. I picked up a package of masks as I entered the store and then continued my shopping. Up at the Wal Mart you find stuff arranged in some logical order and this makes the shopping go very quickly. It logical arrangement does not preclude being lulled into some sort of trance where you find yourself inspecting stuff that you either can’t afford or for which you have the same need as an extra hole in you head. That which should have taken a quick, crisp 45 minutes, including the time to check out and pay, I was there for for substantially more than an hour. I dropped off the package of masks on a convenient shelf on the way to the check out. I’m not wearing the ‘Coward Sheeple Flag’ that is the mask. On the way home, I noticed that it had snowed a bit. Nothing serious but the real winter snow is fast approaching.
There was an earthquake yesterday. The quake was centered at Sand Point in the Aleutian Islands some 600 miles from Homer. People felt it here in Fritz Creek. I felt nothing 80 miles further north in Soldotna. The quake was a 7.4 or thereabouts. A pretty big quake but centered well beyond the populated areas. There was a tsunami alert and the result was a 4 foot wave after there was an evacuation alert down in the Aleutians.
I have been watching the political scene pretty closely. Here in Alaska we have two Democrats running as Independents one for Senate and one for Congress. Democrat is an increasingly dirty word in Alaska and I suspect In all of America. Both of these Democrats are on tape saying that they will caucus with the Democrats in Washington. The senate candidate is even on tape admitting that ‘most’ of his beliefs are to the Left. Of course, they are promising “free everything”. How we are to pay for all of this “free stuff” is beyond my comprehension. I’ll be voting against “free stuff”.
Been revising my ‘To Do’ list. We are planning to house the bees in the newly constructed green house for the winter. This is going to require making sure that all avenues of escape are closed. That is my major project for Tuesday. In addition, I am still dragging out stuff to sell in this weekend’s ‘garage sale’. I am still finding stuff that I have forgotten that I owned. If I haven’t needed or used it in the last 3 years, it is going to a new home. If someone doesn’t buy that particular, unused widget, the Salvation Army will become the new owner. The next thing on the ‘To Do’ list is installing the siding on the outside of the downstairs bathroom. This should have been done two years ago but everything seems to get in the way of this 3-4 hour project. After that project is complete, I’ll be installing gas lines for two small propane heaters. One is for my bedroom where I have no heat and last winter Suzy’s water bowl skimmed over with ice on on particularly cold night. It didn’t freeze solid but it was an indication that I should, maybe, install some sort of heater. In December, three winters back, I was driving back to Florida to get the balance of our valued possessions (Many of which we’ll be selling this weekend). I spent the night behind a convenience store in Tok (pronounced toke like a draw on a wacky weed bundle). I was sleeping on a mattress in the 28′ cargo trailer. During the night the propane Mr. Heater went off. During that night the dog water bowl, sitting on the floor next to the mattress, froze solid. I bought a new Mr. Heater in Canada the next day. That Mr. Heater quit during the night which led me to discover that that the problem wasn’t the heater but the propane tank. The tank was getting so cold that the propane would not evaporate so that it could be burned. Solved the problem by placing the tank where it got some of the heat from the heater. The dogs and I were toasty warm for the balance of the trip through Canada and on through the Great White Northern States of America. Anyway, a heater in the bathroom will make it comfortable to bathe and one in my bedroom will knock kill the chill first thing in the morning.
Guess I better get to work. These projects aren’t going to complete themselves and the garage sale is starting on Thursday.
Today was spent removing stuff that we thought we wanted when we moved to Alaska in September of 2017. Clothes purchased and worn once and some not at all. Summer’s dive gear that she is not likely to ever use again. Several thousand dollars in dive gear that she has been unable to sell for $500. Summer’s excess collection of film cameras, lenses and paraphernalia that no one wants any more. Most phones now take pictures that are almost as good as a dedicated film camera. Old technology superseded by new technology. I’ll be 76 in just 14 days. I’ve seen a crap load of superseding in those preceding years. I removed a half dozen coats and thick hoodies from a storage closet. Most of them I had forgotten that I owned. We removed a twin bunk bed set from the upstairs bedroom along with several boxes that should have been in my Conex ( 40′ shipping container) workshop. How they got upstairs in that bedroom is a mystery. All of these last minutes of activity in what is now Fall up here is a spasm of claustrophobic remembrance of the lack of interior space during the last tough winter. All of this excess will be on sale to people who may or may not need all of this junk, but, thank the Lord, will buy it. We’ll do two weekends unless it begins to snow and whatever is left goes directly to the Salvation Army. We’ve already donated a couple of truck loads of stuff. Since we moved here we are finding that much of the stuff we thought we needed is either useless or superfluous. Also, as I have achieved well past my “three score and ten”, I’m finding that I just really don’t want or need very much. The sale goes on rain or shine in the new tent/greenhouse that I built for Summer to house her new gardening business. She closed for the season yesterday, stored her inventory and will be going back full time to her other job. The store will be open to sell all of our excess. How convenient.
We’ve had several projects going on at the same time. When one was stalled we moved on to the next. This rock walled flower bed was one of my side projects. If rocks were dollars we would be billionaires.
Had really great intentions to get a heavy duty support wall under the front of the house and thereby level the entire house. However, other seemingly more urgent and important problems kept cropping up until the rainy season began. The rain made mudslides under the house that completely filled and covered the forms for the concrete footing under 3-4 feet of water infused mud. The area out past the mudslides was filled with water that covered 4-6 inches of mud. I very nearly lost one or the other of my rubber boots every time I stood still for more than a few seconds. Why the house hasn’t slide into the void is a mystery and nothing short of a miracle. Three of the posts supporting the house were completely undermined and were simply hanging from the beam that they were supposed to be supporting. All in all it was a big fricking mess. I spent most of two days moving this water ladened mud with my little tractor. (I got my little Pasquale tractor repaired in the Spring. I had to buy another tractor ($2000) for parts so that I could make the repairs). Once I got the mud removed, I poured 3 concrete piers so as to replaced the posts that were no longer supporting anything.
I have been having a great deal of pain in my left shoulder. Humping those 80 lb. sacks of concrete around did not lessen the pain. It took me two days to finish digging and pour the piers. There was so much water seeping into the holes I dug that I ended up using a couple of plastic tubs for forms. The first wooden form kept floating and the water seeping in made it almost impossible to get the concrete to the correct consistency. As a last resort, I poured two full bags into the form without adding water. I was then able to mix them and shove the rebar down into the mixture. This was to be the most important pier as I am intending to use it as the point to jack the house back up to level. What was left to do is wait 10-14 days to allow the concrete to properly harden before I start using a 40 ton jack to lift the house. More fun is yet to come and I’m hoping that the ground will freeze before I have to start jacking up the house. I am well and truly tired of the mud.
I finished the piers on Wednesday and went to the doctor on Friday. I said “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” He replied “Well, don’t do that.” Anyway that was the result of the visit. He injected some crap into the left shoulder joint and told me to quit lifting anything heavier than a glass of iced vodka. I told him that those were doctors orders that I could follow. I’m hoping that 10-12 days of respite will suffice as I have to put the new posts under the house. They aren’t that heavy but they are heavy enough to hurt when I lift them.
It is nearing the season of snow. The sun is setting earlier and earlier leaving even less time to do the work that must be done. Summer has been operating her new business from Thursday through Sunday. It is bulb planting season in this part of Alaska. Time to get you garlic and bulb flowers into the ground before the freeze makes the ground so hard that you couldn’t drive a shovel into it with a sledge hammer.. Between customers she has been splitting firewood. I chainsawed up just over 8 cords and piled it up. Summer has been splitting and then stacking it in our woodshed tents. She is a long way from finished and I guess that I’ll have to jump in this week and try to get it done.
I mentioned earlier that I had built Summer a place for her garden center business. Here are some pictures of the construction.
Every post had to have 6 inches of dirt removed for2 feet in all directions to accommodate 2 inches of foam insulation. The insulation is there along with the plastic wrapped and stapled to the post to keep the frost from lifting the post out of the ground. Anything buried less than 4 feet and without the plastic and insulation is likely to be lifted right out of the ground. It is a serious problem that must be addressed regardless of the time or monetary cost.
It took me just over 4 weeks working alone to get the platform finished. This included rain delays, material delays and a few days of “I just don’t feel like it” or more precisely “I just don’t give a damn”. I wasn’t sick so much as I was sick of the project. I had a guy and a machine dig the post holes. The only problem was is that almost all of the 24 post holes were several inches from where they needed to be. In addition, every one of them was drilled at an angle. That meant you couldn’t stand the posts up straight. I redug every post hole with a manual post hole digger to get them straight and in the correct position. After that I removed all of the dirt (up to a foot deep and 4 feet across) to install the insulation. The only easy part of this operation was using the tractor to cover the insulation with about a foot of dirt. Covering the insulation took an entire day.
When the actual construction started, I thought that It was going to be a ‘piece of cake’. Wrong again, Murgatroid. While I had been so careful to line the posts up along the length, I had failed to line them as precisely across the width. Meaning that two of the posts might line up but the third would not. The third one could be either end or the one in the middle. The only solution was to attach a 2×6 on either side of the three rows of posts. This would allow me to place 8′ floor joists across the width. Not what I had intended. This stupid mistake left me with not enough 2x6s to put in as floor joists because I had to use 360 feet of 2x6s to tie the posts together down the length of the platform. Buying enough 2x6s from Home Depot was almost $1200. I was stumped. I decided to consult with Dan, Summer’s signifiant other. Dan is a Master Carpenter with years of experience and, actually, went to school for carpentry. He suggested that I use 2x4s instead of 2x6s and put them on 12″ centers instead of 16″ centers. Just as strong for half the money. One hundred 2x4x8 cost $580 and the problem was solved.
Well, it isn’t entirely finished. There are still some minor tweaks to be made so that we can put the bee hives in the greenhouse portion for the winter.
This has been a season of numerous bear sightings. We’ve only seen one on our property so far this year. Thankfully they will be hibernating soon. Mostly the only bears we and others have seen are black bears. The brown bears (Grizzly bears) are usually not seen very often in our little corner of Alaska. This year, however, we’ve heard a number of reports of brown bears and some of them with cubs. Any bear with cubs is especially dangerous and not to be taken lightly. Every time we go out the back door we pause on the steps with the door still open and take a careful look around. I have no ambitions of becoming bear poop or being trampled to death by a mama moose. Summer has attributed our lack of bear sightings (even though people near us have seen bears) to the noisy geese. It seems that these honking bastards scare the hell out of almost everything except eagles and other birds. I really, really don’t mind not seeing a bear.
Well, that’s about it for me tonight. My shoulder is hurting from the position I’m sitting. Time to quit writing and drink vodka.
14-21 May 2020 It is still summer which means that I’m still busier than a one legged pirate in an ass kicking contest. This is Sunday the 21st and like last Sunday I’m slacking off for a couple of hours to write this blog. I finished up last Sunday by moving dirt for a couple of hours and trying to get some irrigation onto the garden and into the greenhouse. Did not accomplish the irrigation project. Mostly didn’t move the pump. etc. due to the fact that the spring box had recovered somewhat and we needed to water all that we could with whatever water was there. If you weren’t living in Alaska you would not suspect that there was a potable water shortage. I’ve been told, recently, that one of our neighbors had 700 feet of well drilled only to come up empty. I’m guessing that the ‘dry hole’ cost them close to $30,000 or so. Well drilling up here is an expensive and risky proposition. And that, sports fans. is why Summer and I haven’t had a well drilled.
Monday. Spent part of the day attempting to repair a pump whose housing had burst last winter. A breaker tripped and left the heat off for several hours and the plastic housing cracked. Got some JB Weld epoxy and some wire mesh (Screen off an old screen door) and used the epoxy to fill the crack and attach the screen over the crack. All that was left to do then was wait 24 hours for it to cure. After that I loaded the trash and some other debris into The Beast’ and left for the dump. I am constantly amazed how two people and four dogs can generate so much trash. If I didn’t make the dump trip, at least once a week, we’d be buried in it. When you add to that the trash generated by our outside activities, it becomes near a pickup bed load every week. After stopping at the dump. I stopped in at Safeway for some ‘make your own dinner’ stuff. Summer has been equally busy and is now working a few hours a week on her regular job with Homer Hounds. Some evenings she just doesn’t feel like cooking dinner for herself much less for me. Can’t fault her for that. Some nights, it almost seems too much trouble to microwave something to eat. On the way home I stopped at Fritz Creek Welding only to find that Mr. Charlie had not had time to do the welding on the rear lift for the travel trailer. Promised to have it by Tuesday afternoon. Arriving back at the homestead, I checked on the pump repair only to find that the epoxy was still not set. After that I loaded the dishwasher and swept the floors. Another semi-productive day in Alaska.
Tuesday. Spent all day diddling with trying to get some irrigation going. Went to town to buy a foot valve for the piping I was going to put into the pond. Of course, no one in town had one. They all stock them but they were all out of stock. That happens a lot up here. The freight is so expensive that they only order at regular intervals. If the regular intervals don’t conform to your needs it’s just ‘tough toenails, Dude’. When I arrived back home, I started going through my plumbing supplies to see if there was anything that could be used instead of a foot valve. In amongst the PVC fittings I found a brass check valve. The reason for owning this valve escapes me. I’m sure that it must have cost $25 or more and it looked brand new. A foot valve is just a check valve that goes on the end of the piping in a well. I decided that this might suffice for the water emergency we were experiencing and would work until I was able to buy the correct foot valve. I found and assembled some 1″ hose that would be attached to the pump and would be placed into the water. I attached the check valve to the end of the line feeding the pump. Started the pump and no water flowed. Then I decided that the pump has lost its’ prime. This required a vodka bottle full of water and a small funnel. I got the water but could not find the funnel that we had been using to prime the pump. The problem is that the opening to prime the pump is so small that it requires a smaller that normal funnel. The funnel search took up a half hour, before I remembered that there had been one in the kitchen. Got the pump primed and turned it on again. Still no water. After some cussing and a closer examination of the valve, I decided that the spring on it was just too strong for the pump to suck it open. This led to the removal of the spring which meant a trip to the Conex tool shed. Back at the pond with the spring removed, I turned on the pump. Success at last, water was flowing and the sprinkler in the garden was sprinkling. It ran for almost three minutes before the repaired housing on the pump burst open and covered me in dirty pond water. There were a number of permutations and time consuming searches for piping, hose and tools during the day that I haven’t recounted. This project was about as aggravating as something might get. If you haven’t grasped the fact that all of this was going on for hours, you just don’t understand. The day ended with me frustrated and still no water for the garden or the greenhouse. Also, I did not get the rear jack from Fritz Creek Welding because I was so focused on the water problem.
Wednesday. Another trip to town. Frankly, I can’t even remember what I went to get. It must have been something important at the time. On the return trip, I was able to pick up the rear lift assembly for the travel trailer. It was my intention to take it home and install it on the trailer. Unfortunately, I could not lift it into place and get the bolts into it at the same time. Taking it off was pretty easy. Gravity was a great assistant in the removal process. Reinstalling had gravity fighting me as hard as it could. Gravity is a blessing and a curse or so it seems. The final solution will likely be Summer at one end and me at the other installing, at least, one bolt each. Another project delayed as Summer was off doing her part-time job for the afternoon. After that it was a return to the water project or my correctly the lack of water project. With the repaired pump broken again, it was time to take out the spring box pump. That was an adventure. I had forgotten and had not noticed that the system was holding pressure. I disconnected the pump and got my second bath in less than 24 hours. At 60 psi and about 20 gallons of very cold water sprayed onto me and the entire inside of the spring box shed. I was thrilled. Here in Fritz Creek the humidity is often so low that water evaporates in minutes. The result was that I was bone dry in about and hour. Got tired of screwing with this pump and watering system. Took a lunch break before getting into this mess even further. Took the pump out of the spring box and moved all. of the garden hoses down to the pond. Got it all hooked up and turned it on. WATER!!! The garden was, finally, being watered. I was ecstatic right up until the power cord running to the pump began to burn at an old repair. It burned so severely that it looked like lightning on the ground. Luckily, I was standing 50 feet away adjusting the sprinkler. It probably wouldn’t have hurt me had I been standing closer but it would likely have scared the crap out of me. Summer was still at work so I watered all of the outdoor gardens, the Tomato Palace and then the greenhouse. All of the above took much of the day to accomplish. After those tasks, I went on to a bunch of menial tasks before it became Vodka:30.
Thursday The day was spent on the tractor. We have been waiting for a dirt guy to get back to Alaska. He comes here every summer and lives up the hill from us and is very reasonably priced. However, we just can’t wait any longer. The dirt must move. There was/were many tons of dirt that had to be removed in order to put the supporting wall under the front of the house. This wall will be 8+ feet tall. It is the first stage of adding onto the house. This wall will be constructed with 8×8 treated lumber. The side against the gravel fill behind the wall will be one inch treated plywood covered in a waterproof material trade named Bituthene. It is a tar based product that is absolutely waterproof. Behind the wall under the gravel will be 4″ black plastic drain line. Water is almost pouring out of the raw dirt bank therefore, water drainage is an imperative to keep the wall dry. Though the wall will be waterproof, there is no reason for having the wall wet. Anyway, back to the tractor. I spent most of the day moving dirt. I think it was nearly 6:00 PM when I got tired and bored.
Friday More dirt moving. Same as Thursday except that in the late afternoon the shovel work began. Some of the dirt removal is of necessity having to be done one shovel full at the time. I spent 2 hours with a shovel in hand. The biggest problem was very large rocks that the tractor could not dig out. I dug them out to the point that the tractor could get to them.
Saturday. Another day of digging with a shovel and with the tractor bucket. Big rocks, little rocks, hard gray clay and mix of dirt and rock we used to call ‘churt’ down in Alabama. I have removed 90%+ of the dirt that needed to be removed. This is gets me down to mostly shovel work. Found that one of the newer pilings I installed last fall was not dug in deep enough. This left the concrete footing for this piling 10-12 inches too high. This would make it 10-12 inches taller than the new footing I will be pouring next week. I will have to figure out how to rectify this situation. The day ended with me still on the shovel brigade. Since this isn’t a government job so there aren’t six guys leaning on shovels while one does all of the digging. I had a few other small projects that needed to be done during the day. It was a very tiring day. It was the longest day of the year in so many ways.
Sunday. Got up late. Spent most of the morning writing this blog. After my typing fingers got tired. I got back to the dirt moving project. Have a big rock still hanging in the wall. It is located here I intend to install a new piling to replace the piling with the footing too high to pour our new footing for the wall. Dug around and under this rock for a couple of hours with no success. It simply would not budge. got the tractor started and used that in an attempt to dislodge this monster rock. No luck. After much effort, I decided to just move the new footing for the new piling over a foot or so. I dug the footing hole for the new piling which was in hard clay and the aforementioned ‘churt’. This took over a half hour. Summer who had been galavanting around the neighborhood came home and we had a late lunch. She was taking care of Dan’s dog, Stu, and some guinea pigs for a different neighbor. The guinea pig neighbor had gone on a camping trip and didn’t want to leave her babies unintended. Summer is just too easy to burden with your difficulties. Back to the piling. I, at last, finished digging the hole for the new footing. Spent about a half hour finding everything needed to mix up the new concrete and about 10 minutes mixing and pouring it into the hole. After the concrete I used the tractor to clean up the loose dirt that I had tossed aside from the shoveling project and then picked up rocks that had been uncovered by the shovel work. I was going to use the tractor to pick up and haul away all of the rocks from the garden area and from my digging. But with the concrete project finished and the loose rocks picked up, I went inside. Inside I loaded the dishwasher and swept the floors. ENOUGH! It is Vodka:30.
Well, back to the salt mine. Hope you had a nice weekend.
POSTSCRIPT: Thought I had posted this late Sunday but somehow i screwed up. Happy Tuesday
I haven’t written in a while because we’ve been too busy and I’ve just been too tired. To do this blog on a daily basis requires about two hours of time only interrupted by trips to the coffee pot. Even trips to the coffee pot have been interrupted by the unrelenting work needing to be done. However, this Sunday morning, I am on strike.
I got up at my usual 8:00 AM, made coffee, took Miss Suzy to do her morning business, opened a can of biscuits and made milk gravy for the first time in years. We almost never have milk. Last week I asked Summer to get me some Half & Half for my coffee. She came home with a half gallon of the stuff. This is a months supply of Half & Half, if I’m only using it in my coffee. I like a little milk in my coffee. Some people like a little coffee in their milk and I think Summer was confused as to which I am. As a way to avoid tossing out the milk (when it spoils before I can use it all), I used some in the Sunday gravy. This has to be the first time in many years, if not decades, since I made milk gravy instead of Depression gravy for breakfast. I have reconstituted powdered milk and used it in beef dripping to make gravy for mashed potatoes but never any kind of milk for breakfast gravy. Probable reason for this is that it seems too much trouble when I’ve just crawled out of bed. Whilst stirring the gravy to make sure the lumps dissolved my mind drifted off on another tangent.
Southerners and Alaskans have much in common. I suspect that this is the reason that I meet so many people from the South who have been living up here for decades. The post-Civil War South was an area of America where you learned to do with what you had. From the post-Civil War era (I call it the War of Northern Aggression as Lincoln had no constitutional right to send troops to the South to enforce the Cotton Tax..never mind. This is a discussion for another time.) through the Great Depression and WWII were time of great poverty in the South. Most white people had next to nothing and most black people had less than that. After the Civil War and as the Union troops went back north they stripped the South of anything of value. That included farm equipment, animals and anything else that they took a fancy to as they were on their way out the door. After that anything else of value was taken by the” Northern carpetbaggers’ that flooded into the destitute South. This led to Southerners, black and white, having to use whatever broken, bent or discarded tool, wagon etc. and, somehow, repairing it in an attempt to feed and clothe themselves. This led directly to what has been called “Southern Ingenuity”. Alaskans while they haven’t suffered the ravages of a Civil War have been forced to use whatever they have handy to make a tool, an abode or feed themselves since the beginning of humanity. The newcomers from the Lower 48 have, of necessity, had to do the same thing. Don’t have a knife you make one, You don’t have food you trap it. If you don’t have a warm coat, you make it. After the oil boom started there has been a lot less of this behavior but it still exists today the same as it does in the South. Here in Alaska the cost of getting any item isn’t just the price. The price might only be a dollar but the freight to get it here might be five dollars. Hence you, one way or another, make whatever you have do the work. I’m calling this “Alaskan Ingenuity”. They, like Southerners of my generation and earlier, are forced to do with what they have and they do it so very well. I am proud of being a man of the South and equally as proud to be becoming a man of Alaska.
Summer spent most of 5 hours cleaning the trailer. It was a job for Superwoman and she was up to the task. I am left with cleaning the refrigerator as it has mold in it and she is very allergic to almost every mold known to man. Tomorrow, Sunday, she will clean the carpet, mop the floors, take pictures and we’ll call the interior done. I have to reinstall the rear lift on Monday and that will conclude all necessary repairs to the travel trailer. I’m hoping it will find a new home soon.
Days have been spent getting the travel trailer ready to sell. It had some problems that had to be addressed. The first was that neither of the propane heaters were working. The forward heater never ran. I dug around until I found that there was no power to it. This, as previously reported, led to an all out search for a fuse panel yet unknown. The aft heater, which we stopped using because of the screeching noise that I thought was motor bearing, had absolutely nothing wrong with it. What was causing the screeching is still a mystery. It does not do it now so HURRAY! On the last leg of the trip to Fritz creek, the commode was near overflowing and the holding tank would not drain. I tried everything when it first happened nearly 3 years ago and was unable to get it to drain. I cut the drain pipe that I thought was the sewage drain (later discovered that it was the gray water drain) and ended up making 5 trips to the hardware store to rectify my error. After this fiasco I ran near twenty gallons of water down the commode and much to my surprise clear water came rushing out when the dump valve was opened. I can’t imagine how it repaired itself but, somehow, it did. Then came the clunking noise when the bedroom slide out was extended. This I expected to require extensive surgery on the slide out but, in fact. it was as simple as removing the mattress. The ‘under the bed’ is a storage area. The lift up lid is the foundation for the mattress. A sheet of thin plywood is the bottom of the storage. By removing the piece of plywood we gained access to the slide out drive assembly. The problem was discovered very quickly. Summer ran the drive and I found that the drive motor had slipped enough to allow the chain to jump a tooth on the drive gear. This was the loud clunking noise. A half inch wrench and a pry bar got the chain tight again. Another problem solved. The rear leveling lift had never worked. I had on numerous occasions threatened to repair it. As per usual, there was always something more pressing that required my attention. All four of the struts that hold the two legs were bent. How that happened, I have no clue. They didn’t seem to be nearly robust enough for the job they were meant to do. I had Charlie at Fritz Creek Welding straighten and weld on some reinforcing material. He did an excellent job. I put these back onto the lift lying on my back under the trailer with dirt falling into my eyes. Wearing my ‘close up’ glasses did not seem to block much of the dirt. With this potentially blinding task completed, I gave the lift a try. The motor ran but the lift did not move and it made a clunking noise. That was when I discovered that the slot in the drive shaft of the lift (that connects the motor to the shaft) had split open. The clunking noise was the drive pin in the motor shaft slipping though the split open drive shaft. Another piece of equipment not built heavily enough to do the job for which is it was destined. The only way to repair it was to remove the entire lift from the trailer. This turned out to be pretty easy. The whole damned thing was held onto the trailer frame by four 1/2 inch bolts. More stuff that didn’t seem properly robust enough for the job. It seems that the manufacturer or some engineer had seriously underestimated the forces that would be applied to this piece of equipment. After it was removed I carried up to my work bench and used a propane torch and a hammer to get the split shaft back to close to factory specs. It could be welded back together but it still wouldn’t be strong enough. It would split again the next time someone tried to use it. I wasn’t going to have the new owner cuss me for doing some half assed repair. I would repair it like I was going to be using it. The repair entailed cutting a one inch piece of pipe and the splitting it in half. I cut a slot in each half so that the motor drive pin could engage it properly. I was going to weld the pieces into place myself. Then I remembered ‘Dirty Harry’-“A man has to know his limitations.” I loaded the lift and the two handmade pieces into ‘The Beast’ and took off to Fritz Creek Welding. Charlie is infinitely more qualified to attach the new shaft pieces than I am ever likely to be. He told me that he would have them done by Monday. That would now be tomorrow. Just when I thought that the only thing left was to clean the interior of the trailer, I moved the kitchen faucet, to get some trash out of the sink, and the spout came off in my hand. There was no reattaching it. The plastic threads had broken off and it was now junk. This led to a series of screw ups. I was going to go to town and buy a new faucet. The I remembered that Dan was a remodeler of kitchens. It stood to reason that he would have saved an old faucet or two. That would save me $50-$60, if he did and he would give me one of them. It turned out that he had several. I decided that since we were about to remodel the kitchen, and we’re getting a new faucet, I’d take our kitchen faucet and use it in the trailer. All of the faucets Dan had were single hole and the trailer needed a 3 hole faucet. Problem solved. NOT! The first faucet Dan gave me didn’t work. I couldn’t figure out why and didn’t want to spend any time or money trying to repair it. Money was the primary consideration. Spending nearly $40 on a Moen repair kit didn’t seem like the smart thing to do with a free faucet. Summer went to Dan’s house and got another. While she was gone I installed the three hole house faucet into the trailer sink. There were some piping modifications needed and, fortunately the piping was PEX. I’ve owned PEX crimpers and fittings for 20 years. I repiped this house using PEX pipe. PEX pipe is forever pipe. If it freezes it simply expands and when it thaws it contracts back to its’ original size. If you use the brass fittings and copper crimp rings your children’s children’s children might have to replace it, maybe. Anyway, I got the repiping done and the faucet installed just about the time Summer returned from Dan’s house. Only one problem. The house faucet had a sprayer and there was no hole for it in the trailer sink. I was going to drill a hole in the sink until I found that the sink was porcelain over steel. In other words, the sink was of a better quality that most of the rest of the trailer. I don’t understand how that could have happened. Had they been consistent it would have been a fiberglass sink. I could have drilled a hole in the porcelain sink. I have the tools. BUT I was afraid that the porcelain would shatter or crack in ways that could not have been hidden by the sprayer escutcheon. The solution was to plug the sprayer outlet on the faucet. I cut off the sprayer hose to about 4 inches, found a bolt that I could force into the hose and hose clamped the bolt into place. Attached the modified hose to the faucet. The trailer kitchen faucet is now working properly. Back at the homestead, I attempted to remove the non-working faucet. I had done the job too well and couldn’t get the faucet off the sink. After a bit of cussing and stomping around, I realized that, when I had installed the sink into this temporary countertop it was temporarily installed. It was only caulked into place. I removed the sink, got the bad faucet off, put the next faucet on, caulked the sink onto the countertop and connected the water lines. Job done. WRONG! This faucet didn’t work. This unfortunate fact led to me investigating the entire water system only to find nothing wrong, The faucet I put into the trailer was working when I took it out of the house sink. There should have been no problem with the water supply. When I had turned this new faucet on it sort of dribbled out some dirty water before I turned it off and went looking for nonexistent problems elsewhere. After deciding that there was no supply problem, I took the bubbler out and cleaned it. No real improvement. It was still just a dribble. At that point, I decided to just leave it on and see if it might improve as the little bit of water passed though. It took about 10 minutes for the flow to become adequate. It only flows about half the water the original faucet flowed but we can live with it until we install the new kitchen.
We haven’t had any significant amount of rain since ‘Break Up’. The snow melt filled the ponds and the spring box. Now the ponds are low and the spring box only fills to about 3 feet. We, usually, have fifteen or more feet of water in the spring box. Yesterday I was watering the garden and the spring box was pumped out completely. We still have several thousands gallons of water in the pond next to the greenhouse/garden area that we can pump. Pumping that water will entail moving the spring box pumping equipment to a point near the pond. In the event that it ever rains again, it will have to be put in some sort of rainproof box that I will have to build. All of this is likely to take another precious day of summer that we can ill afford to waste. I have been trying for a month or more to have two days in a row to finish leveling the house. It has just been one damned thing after another. We seem to be sliding down a slippery slope from disaster to catastrophe without a moment to draw a deep breath. It is most certainly discouraging. Chief Dan George’s character told Clint Eastwood in ‘The Outlaw Josie Wales’ that Secretary of the Interior told the Indian Chiefs, (as they were leaving Washington, DC) to “Endeavor to persevere”. We are endeavoring to persevere in the face of many setbacks and aggravations. Much of this has been a job for ‘Stupidman’ and I am he. It’s too late to run away or back out now as it’s kinda like ‘Going All In’ while holding two deuces and with none in the ‘River’. I have my moments of discouragement but then I look out the window across Kachemak Bay and at the snow capped mountains and remember why I’m here.
There have been a dozen or more little time consuming jobs aside from the travel trailer. Each and every one eating up part or all of valuable summer days. Minor repairs to the tractor, the garden, the Land Rover, attempts to organize the Conex, floors swept, dishes washed, dogs fed, laundry done, necessary trips to the store, ad infinitum.
We have been greenhouse shopping. We bought this ClimaPod greenhouse that is a total POS. We have contacted them in an attempt to get replacement parts to repair some damage with no success. I called the corporate number and some guy, with what I took to be a Chinese accent, told me to email them a list of needed parts. We have yet to hear a word from them since. If you were considering buying one of their products DON”T. The damned things are a ten thousand piece jigsaw puzzle with half assed assembly instructions that aren’t even in the correct order. Follow the instructions and you’ll end up taking apart things you’ve already assembled. And as I previously stated. they don’t give a damn about helping you, if the structure is somehow damaged. Enough of that rant. We found a greenhouse supplier we know well but the $4900 20×60 greenhouse is saddled with $2800 in freight. to get it here. This makes it way too expensive for the square footage that it provides. I guess we’re on our way to PLAN B, whatever that is.
Well, I have to go meet Summer at Dan’s house and pickup the scrap wood from his house addition project. It is mostly kindling but some could be firewood. After that I have to clean the refrigerator in the travel trailer. I have avoided that project about as long as I can. I’ll likely be mopping the kitchen floor again. After that, I guess, I’ll start moving the pumping system to the pond.
7 June 2020 Sunday I had one of those slow days. I had a leisurely breakfast of eggs, sausage and grits washed down with a flood of coffee. Summer is still on her glamping trip to the glacier. The name of the glacier is a mystery to me. I can see it across Kachemak Bay but it’s name is unknown to me. I didn’t ask anyone the name as my personal hard drive is full and any more information is likely to cause the deletion of older information that I might need or want. In every life there comes a time when not knowing everything is a good thing. I think I may have reached that tipping point.
I read several news sites and can only conclude that insanity has become the norm all over the world. People for whom I have had a modicum of respect for are saying some of the dumbest, most ignorant things I have ever heard. For example, Dwayne Johnson “The Rock” prattled on attacking President Trump and I wondered why he didn’t simply call President Trump with his questions. His call would be answered and he could very easily jump into his private jet and go the White House and talk with President Trump. None of us could do that. Is it just ‘virtue signaling’ to keep his career on the move or is he just another Hollywood idiot? Either way is bad but I’m beginning to think it is the latter rather than the former. Yep. He’s just another Hollywood idiot. Given the circumstances what else can you conclude?
Today I was working on the water damaged ceiling in the travel trailer. I installed a piece of birch plywood over the water damaged area. It was either that or tear out the entire ceiling and install new sheetrock. While it looked a simple job it rapidly became complicated. Part of the complication was putting the plywood on the ceiling when there was little or no room to maneuver the 8 feet of it into place. The ceiling had some damage when Summer and I bought the trailer. I stopped the leak immediately but the interior repair was not high on the list of things that needed to be done. It leaked again sitting unused, unentered for nearly 3 years. I think I told you that I had only been inside maybe twice in those years. Summer and I had talked of a vacation using it in late summer or early fall. We wanted to go to Mt. Rushmore and all of the world’s largest whatever that was down the road. For once we just wanted to be tourists while passing through America on our way to Florida to see family. Of course, that was before C-19 made her unemployed for many weeks and now she is only working 12-15 hours a week. The lack of cash flow doesn’t help. Then there are all of different quarantine rules in different cities and states would make the trip less than peaceful.
On top of all of the other travel considerations, Summer has decided that her life career is to run a nursery business. Therefore I’ll be building a greenhouse this fall after I finish building a heated water room onto the house, a retaining wall against the current piling foundation under the house, rewiring the house and a deck on the front of the house. The deck is being built so that it can serve as the subfloor for the new addition to the house that may not happen for a couple of years. In addition, I’ve got to convert the shed in front of the house to a heated, shelved plant starter facility. No pressure.
Our old man, Gandie, is deteriorating pretty quickly now. He’s sixteen years old and that is very old for a Miniature Schnauzer. He’s sleeping 12-14 hours a day and is unsteady on his feet. He is losing weight while eating like there’s no tomorrow. I think he’ll probably make it for a few more weeks or months. I doubt that he can or will survive the coming winter. He gets a pain pill twice a day and because of his incessant pacing in the evenings I’ve been giving him a Benadryl. The Benadryl hasn’t seemed to have any effect his behavior at all. He won’t go to his bed until everyone else has gone to bed. He’s, usually, awake until I go to bed at around midnight. If you go to the kitchen he’ll be right under your feet. We’re not sure that he has any idea who Summer and I are, but he certainly knows when it’s dinner time. It is very sad to watch an old friend start to slip away.
It rained for a couple of hours this afternoon which brought outside work to a screeching halt. It started around 2:00 and ended just after 5:00. The three hour hiatus made me feel lazier than I was already feeling. I did not accomplish anything else beyond feeding the dogs and myself. I did finish Saturday’s blog and I’ve done this one. I guess I did accomplish something after all.
The mower below is brand new. It has cut not one single blade of grass since it was purchased last fall just before the tractor broke down. I’m kind of anxious to give it a try but now it’s Spring and Summer won’t allow me to mow. The reason I can’t mow is Fireweed. Fireweed blooms in mid-Summer and the bees harvest the pollen. That pollen becomes Fireweed honey. It is one of the most expensive honeys in the world. A four ounce jar often sells for as much as $25. Summer sold 6 four ounce jars last Fall for $100 to a local business. That business in turn sold the for $25 each. She got about a gallon of Fireweed honey last year with only one hive, this year she has three hives. Fireweed honey is almost crystal clear and tastes like no honey you’ve ever tasted. The ancients would likely have called it “The nectar of the gods”. It is really that good. Sceptic that I am, I did not believe that there could be much difference. I could not have been more wrong. I’m hoping we get enough this year so that we get to keep some for ourselves