Dad’s Alaska

February 18, 2022

Here’s to Spring. I hope it arrives very soon.

Except for my walks and the occasional trip to the big city of Homer, i am house bound. Winter seems to drag on forever and you begin to get a little nutty. The short days, the snow and the boredom are stifling. Fortunately, the days are getting longer, the snow will be gone soon and I’ll be back working on this house or one of a dozen projects outside. When the first snow falls you are just ecstatic. It’s beautiful and it covers the ugly brown stuff on the ground. BUT after a few months, of snow blowing, shoveling, walking on ice and slip sliding away, you are done. February is quickly coming to a close and I couldn’t be happier. March is still cold but the snow storms are usually over and gone by the middle of the month. After that we have a slow warm up until all of the snow and ice are gone at about the end of April. We have had some anomalous weather this year ( It’s been both warmer and colder than normal. at least, what I consider normal. As I’m typing this missive it is about 38F and raining. Not what you in the Lower 48 might expect for this time of year. There were a couple of days when it was warmer here than in N. Florida or LA (Lower Alabama). Yeah, we’ve still got snow. It melts during the day and becomes ice at night then melts a little the next day time to become a slip hazard. Even to me, it seems that I’m whining too much.. I guess it is a symptom of ’cabin fever’. Onto more pleasant of pertinent things.

Me and my new buddy, Buddy, just back from a walk.

Buddy is, presumably, a Chihuahua. When looking at him straight in the face he looks like a miniature German Shepherd. According to the people who gave him to me, he is about a year old. Was supposed to be ’chipped’ and wasn’t. So I’m not assured about his age. Took Buddy in last week for his pre-eunuch medical checkup. He’ll be operated on March 18 and hopefully that will be the end of territory marking in the house. I hate to do it to the little fella but I am really tired of cleaning up his pee spots. Training to take his business outside has been somewhat successful and taking him on the two miles strolls has drained his radiator pretty well before bed time.

Buddy pulling me down the road.

”His master’s voice” or more likely ’Where the hell is my treat?”
Me and Buddy in a snow storm.

Believe it or not we are starting to prep for Spring. Not physical prep. More like planning prep. We’ve got a guy lined up to help us stabilize the house. The house is slowly moving down the hill and will, eventually, collapse off the existing pilings. Picking the house up off the ground might be just a wee bit difficult. We’ve lined up a sheetrock guy and I’m going to tear out he kitchen and remove all of the sheetrock from the ceiling. I can’t rewire the house until the ceiling is down.

March 22, 2022

As you may have ascertained from the current date, I have been off doing other things. Not necessarily things that I had planned to do exactly. My first name should be ‘Sidetrack’. Being sidetracked is the reason that the first date on this missive is in February. As I remember it, I was typing away oblivious to the rest of the world when I realized that I was hungry. Into the kitchen, which is about 6 steps, I went to make a sandwich. Arriving there I noticed that the counter had some crumbs on it. This led me to the sink where I found a dish cloth and noticed that the sink had some debris in it. I cleaned out the sink and then wiped off the counter top. I reached into the cabinet for a paper plate and there were none. This led me to the pantry where I discovered that some cans had fallen over and were out of order. This led to placing can in the proper order which then led me to straightening some boxes. This led to finding two boxes of crackers open. This led to consolidating all of the crackers in one box. Then I took the empty box to the trash only to find the kitchen trash container full. This led to removing the trash and getting a fresh trash bag from under the sink. With the new trash bag in place I took the old trash bag out and realized that I needed to make a dump run. This led to moving the truck and loading various other materials, as well as trash bags into the truck. I’m standing there looking at a truck bed full of stuff and I decide that I might as well go to the dump since the truck was loaded. The trip to the dump led to driving past the SAFEWAY. Tuesday is Safeway Senior Discount Day. This led an hour looking at my Safeway phone app to discover and retrieve the weekly specials. I loaded up my discounted haul from Safeway and went home. Again I am stilling trying to make a Redneck BLT ie Bologna, Lettuce and tomato. However, as I was putting the frying pan on the stove, I noticed where grease from last nights fried shrimp had boiled over onto the stove top. This led to removing the grates and burners. This led to me realizing that they were greasy and needed to go into the dishwasher. This led me back to the grease and debris on the stove top. This led me to the pump bottle of DAWN sitting on the side of the sink that I discovered was empty. This led me to be on my hands and knees digging everything from under the sink in order to get the big refill bottle of DAWN. This led me to rearranging the under sink stuff and removing the 899 plastic bags that were stuffed in that cabinet. I refilled the DAWN bottle which led me back to the greasy stove top where I put a little water and some DAWN on it and mopped around to let it soak for a few minutes. I then decided to pour a glass of tea to go with my sandwich which had now degenerated into two slices of bread a slice of bologna and a squirt of yellow mustard. The opening of the refrigerator caused and avalanche as one of the shelves decided to slip out of it’s proper place. n This led to a bowl of potato soup spilling onto the floor and into the bottom of the refrigerator. This disaster led to the removal of the bottom drawers and sopping out potato soup and some other weird stuff out of the bottom of the refrigerator. Also, it led to cleaning a fair amount off the floor which led me to understand that the floor needed to be swept. This led to 10 minutes of broom and dust pan work. While I was washing my hands I realized that it was time to collect the chicken eggs and water the geese. Collecting the eggs led to me seeing that the chickens were out of water. I took the eggs into the house got two buckets of melted snow water and went back and refilled the water for the chickens. This led me to taking two similar buckets to the geese and discovering that they were nearly out of food. This led to a trip to the food storage tent and 50 pounds of feed hauled down to the goose pen. The empty water buckets led to shoveling snow into the buckets to make more water for the critters. I took the buckets inside and put them near the wood stove where I had let the fire go out. This led to starting another fire which led me to notice that were were low on firewood. This led to the wood tent where I loaded a Jet sled full and pulled it back to the door of the house. I unloaded the sled and that was not quite enough to fill the wood bin. I went back for a second load and brought it into the house. All of the in and out commotion got the dogs excited about going outside so I let them out. They had the zoomies and were running all over the yard for several minutes. Two of the showed up at the back steps, one did not. This led to me having to put on coat and hat again and go find the wayward critter. It was Buddy and he’s the new kid on the block and only obeys shouts at the top of my lungs. I could hear him barking but could not see him. He had gone around the conex and was barking at a moose less than 30 feet away. Since he is a chihuahua he is of the opinion, as are all chihuahuas, that he is a really big dog. He would not leave it and I, finally, had to pick the little moron up to take him and myself to safety. This led me back inside where my sandwich bread had gotten kind of hard. This led to toasting the bread with one side having been smeared with mustard. When the toaster popped up I took my bread, placed the bologna back into it and hurried to the table and sat down before I got sidetracked again. After I sat down and had taken a bite of my sandwich I realized that I hadn’t started the dishwasher to clean the stove top grates and burners or cleaned the stovetop that I left soaking. So there you have it a day in the life of ’Sidetrack’ Bob.

Me and Buddy the brick headed dog sitting in the sun on a warm day.

Not too long after the above day of sidetracks, I was on my way to town for something of which I cannot recall. Anyway, I was on a down hill curve and hit a patch of black ice. Black ice looks like water on the roadway. The truck started sliding on the ice. It veered to the left and I corrected. It veered to the right and I corrected. It did both of these things a couple more times before it swapped ends and slide backwards off an embankment and down about eight feet. As the truck came to a halt it rolled up on it’s passenger side and slide another 10-15 feet. The whole thing was so smooth and gentle that none of the airbags deployed. When the truck stopped, I was still sitting comfortably in the driver’s seat holding the steering wheel with both feet on the floor. I was uninjured and more than a little perplexed. The engine was still running so I turned of the key and tried to figure out what to do next. This was when I got the bright idea to unsnap the seat belt. I had heard of people being unable to release the seat belt so I was a little concerned. Without thinking about the idea that I was hanging five feet above the ’ground’, I unsnapped the belt. It was one of my all time dumbass moves. I fell head first down to the passenger side window and got a pretty big knot on my head as the ’Dumbass Reward’. It never occurred to me to hold onto the steering wheel. Standing on the passenger door, I tried to kick out the windshield. That didn’t happen. I remembered a big hammer that I always carry in the back floorboard and was looking for it when some guy opened the driver’s side door. I climbed the seat and out as he held the heavy door. This young man took me to a friend’s house and he took me to the ER to check out my ’Dumbass Reward’. I was fine the truck was another matter. The entire passenger side was smashed and all of my tools and other stuff was scattered across the snowy ditch. It was a mess. There are a couple of pictures below.

The picture were taken a couple of hours later and the black ice had melted. As you cab see there was the potential for disaster. The power pole was not real close but had I slid another 10 feet on the road, I would have nailed it dead center. My Grandmother Byrd used to say ”God looks out for fools and children”. So I guess I am both a fool and a child of God. This accident could have been so much worse because I slid across the opposite lane. Had another vehicle been coming up the hill there would likely have been dead people in that vehicle. Me? I would have probably walked away as I would have had the entire rear of the truck as cushion and I was belted in with the seat to cushion the impact further.

It’s that time of the year again. The moose are wandering through looking for food and a place to have their calves. The car that the moose is next to is a Subaru Forester. It’s a small car but not a tiny car and the moose will weigh in at close to half the weight of the car. Buddy the Brick Head ran out the door while I was exiting to take these pictures. He ran to within 10 feet of this big critter barking like crazy. The moose stopped and turned slightly to get a better look, I guess. It certainly didn’t appear to be afraid. When the moose stopped and turned, Buddy stopped in mid bark and lit out for the back door. It was as if he’d suddenly learned that old adage ”Discretion is the better part of valor”. All of this happened so quickly that by the time I could yell at hime he was half way back to the door. I put him inside and took these pictures. I wish I had taken pictures of the moose and Buddy’s short meeting.

The moose next to our Subaru Forester
The moose ignoring me on it’s way down the hill.

Summer opened her business, Greer Road Greenhouse, last Spring. She’s closing it this Spring. She’s gotten a job delivering the US MAIL. The pay is better and steadier than her business. The business only operated about 3 months of the year and after the close she was back to her job walking dogs for Homer Hounds. She enjoyed both the business and walking the dogs out in the country but both of them combined don’t pay as well as her new job. Money isn’t everything but it is certainly something when you don’t have any. She was never broke but the extra cash isn’t hurting her feelings. As for me, I’ve decided to get back into the appliance repair business. It’s been a little slow starting as there is no good way to advertise up here and I keep getting thrown into Fakebook jail. The Fakebook jail sentence keeps me from posting on the local message boards. What is bad about Fakebook is that you are convicted without a clue as to the horrible offense you committed or any chance to mitigate the circumstance.

It’s snaining outside. That is to say it is snowing and raining at the same time. It’s currently 34F. The weather has been strange this year. It was really, really cold for a few weeks and now for the past two months it has been warm. The night time temp has been above 20F for most of the past two months. I think it was last winter when we had 9 below zero here at the house.

Well, I guess that it for me. Y’all keep your powder dry.

Dad’s Alaska

29 December 2021

Here’s to my hero. OMICRON!!!!!!

Our freedom is, apparently, being saved by a virus. The Omicron virus is, by all accounts, a very mild illness. People who have had it have remarked that it was like having the common cold. It seems to be causing a bunch of reported cases but fewer and fewer hospitalizations and deaths. We are, at last, being able to see a light at the end of the tunnel that is not an oncoming train. The politicians are not going to want to relinquish their newly found power. At some point, we’ll just have to ignore the politicians and go on about the business of living our lives. Anyway, it seems that the Omicron virus is enough like Delta and the other variants that it will give immunity to the other more deadly viruses. As I said earlier, we are being saved by a virus. I still have not taken the MRNA gene therapy ”vaccine”. The military researchers have come up with a real vaccine that I suspect will never see the light of day. This is because too many politicians and bureaucrats have too much of a vested financial interest in the MRNA gene therapy. Now there is a pill you can take, if you get the virus that seems to be very effective. The drug companies have finished the major drug trial i.e the coerced vaccination of 200 million Americans and only God knows how many others outside the US with an experimental drug. Sad thing is that the experimental drug did not stop the spread of the virus. Millions of people took the ”vaccine” and still got sick, spread the virus and many died. I’m reminded of the scene at the beginning of The Walking Dead where they discover that there is no cure for the virus that created the zombies.

The last picture of Miss Suzy

Little Miss Suzy was the last vestige of 43 years of marriage to my wife and my best friend. Summer and I had to take her to the Vet and have her put down. Some disease in small dogs makes the throat collapse. She got to where she couldn’t eat or drink. It is a terrible thing to have to kill that which has become almost another child to me. Suzy was Connie’s dog. She doted on this little critter right up until the last days of her life. When Connie was in hospice, I would take Suzy to visit. Suzy was a bed hog. She would sleep on top of the bed covers between Connie and myself. Some how every morning I would find myself barely on the bed and Suzy lying across the bed. She pushed me so that she could be comfortable. After Connie passed away, she continued to sleep on the bed and I gradually became her human. That did not stop her from shoving me to the edge of the bed. I did become comfortable having her sleeping against my back. Her little warm body was like having a heating pad against my sometimes sore back. Connie died almost 5 years ago and I got the honor of being Suzy’s human since then. She went everywhere I did. She made 3 trips on the ALCAN as were going to and from Alaska. She was the perfect passenger. She was on my lap looking at the scenery or sound asleep. She was no trouble at all during our travels. For almost 50 years, I have not slept alone. It has been an adjustment. I miss my wife terribly but I, also, am missing Suzy. She was my buddy and her presence pretty much was the only thing that kept me sane after Connie died.

Summer’s two barkity critters. Taco looking at us and Betsy Boo sound asleep.

As you can see in the picture, we still don’t have the oak flooring down. We are going to rewire the entire house which entails taking out all of the sheetrock on the walls and ceilings. There will be a lot of tramping around on the floor and a crap load of sheet rock pieces and dust so the floors have to wait. We have the flooring, we have the kitchen cabinets and we have the wire. It is now just a matter of waiting until Spring. The entire kitchen has to be removed and we’ll have to set up a cook house outside. That is the one thing we really can’t do in the winter. As I have stated previously, I have surrendered to the house as far as getting it level is concerned. I have a guy coming when the ground thaws to pour some concrete and stabilize the house. After that I might be able to level it. The original plan was to lower the house to level it. However, I’m inclined to raise it a couple of feet so that I can get some heavy beams mounted of concrete pillars.

Winter is bad for your health. There is no way to work outside in 18 inches of snow. Any serious construction will have to wait for spring. During the summer I would rack up 2 and sometime 3 miles of walking around the property along with whatever exercise that the current job required. Since the snow started, i’ve been sitting on my rear end doing nearly nothing except eating all day Chewing does not count as exercise. All of this eating and inactivity led to my gaining 5 pounds. Since I’m already about 20 pounds too heavy an extra 5 pounds isn’t a good thing. My solution to the growing poundage is to walk, at least, 2 miles every day. I thought that I might be biting off more than I could chew but two miles seems to be the correct number. I get a little cardio going up the hills on the road and it doesn’t completely exhaust me.

We’ve had a heat wave. The daytime temps have been at or above freezing for most of a week now. The snow on the roads has become ice and I’ve been forced to wear cleats on my walks. This is Wednesday and they are predicting 80% chance of snow for Thursday and Friday. This will likely put us to over two feet of snow on the ground and cause me to be wrestling with the snow blower. I was going to build a snowman but the snow was too dry and wouldn’t ball up.

Since Christmas, I have been eating soup for every meal. I made potato soup the day before Christmas and it was very good. Summer and I ate a lot of it that evening. I had it for dinner last night and breakfast this morning. I made a Minestrone soup on Monday which I alone have eaten for every meal this week that wasn’t potato soup. I am about souped up to my eyeballs. The rest of the minestrone is headed for the freezer.

As you can tell there isn’t much going on here at the homestead. I’ve watched too much Antique Aliens, Unexplained and news shows. There is always one little chore or project to do but 30 minutes later you are stumped as to what you might do next. Most of the time there is nothing else to fo but screw around on the computer or watch another dumbass show in search of Sasquatch, Antique Aliens gold, tuna, crabs or even worse watch the depressing news

Yesterday on my walk a moose cow decided that I was not going to pass her by. She ran out into the road as as I was approaching. I backed up and walked up a drive way and stood behind some brush. I stood very still for about five minutes. Abruptly, she turned and trotted back up the hill where she had been eating. I, again, got back on the road to continue my walk. The crazy moose then ran back into road and stood in the way I intended to go. I was only about 300 yards from the house and Summer happened to looking in my direction and saw the moose and me. Summer drove down to where i was and the car noise made the crazy moose run off down the slope. The first time it blocked my way, I was within 15 feet or so. In other words, too damned close. People in Alaska are more afraid of moose than bears. Moose kill far more people than bears is a fact of life in Alaska. There aren’t a whole bunch of things that scare me but that moose scared the crap out of me. I was so scared I forgot to take pictures

Below are some pictures I took on my walkabouts and from the house.

Midday sunshine
My old ugly mug. I ain’t pretty no more. It was about 33 degrees when I took the picture.
Dawn on the homestead
Dawn a few minutes later
The sun is setting while I’m walking down Tom Cat Drive at about 3:45 pm
An absolutely beautiful Alaska sunset taken on Hill Ave just before Tom Cat Drive.
Another picture along Tom Cat Drive

Well that’s it for me. I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas and may your God bless each and every one of you.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to the Omicron virus that might save us all from COVID forever

I’m pretty much isolated from the human race up here on Greer Road hill. Yeah, I have the interweb and streaming TV. My isolation is physical rather than mental. I talk and text with friends in Florida fairly regularly and I harass a few people on Fakebook when I’m not in Fakebook jail. I think I’ve done about 16 thirty days stents plus several 3 and 7 days sentences. I figure that if they aren’t putting you in jail you aren’t spreading the truth. Anyway to my point, I read several on line newspapers every morning whilst sucking down 32+ ounces of coffee. I just read a day or so back that GlaxoSmithKline have developed a real COVID vaccine. I haven’t taken the jabs that are currently available as I’ve been waiting on a real vaccine that is not the MRNA gene therapy currently being foisted upon the public as a ”vaccine”. The CDC changed the definition of ”vaccine” in order to call this gene therapy a vaccine. This new vaccine, apparently, generates a natural resistance to COVID like the polio or measles vaccines. According to what I’ve read it has few, if any side effects and encourages the bodies own defenses to recognize and attack the COVID virus over much longer periods of time. It is being approved for use in Great Britain but is unlikely to be approved in the US. This is because the CDC/NIH/FDA and other alphabet agencies have a reputed financial interest in the MRNA vaccines being used in the US. It’s another ”Follow the Money” deal. I guess I’m naive but I was not aware the government agencies ( and maybe government employees) could profit from research done with taxpayer money. Anyway, the take away on this is that there is a better, safer real vaccine out there that you probably won’t hear ever about here in the Marxist Republic of America. Now on to more mundane and non-medical things.

Much to our surprise it is blowing our third blizzard for this winter. The entire property is covered in about 18 inches of previous snow with another six to ten inches predicted for this blizzard. Those items which we did not picked up have disappeared until late April or early May. The same goes for all of our outside projects. I had intended to put a porch deck on the back of the house in November. And then frame in a walled, roofed ‘Arctic Entry’ atop the porch deck. In that entry we would have had a bench, a place to hang coats, other outerwear and snow covered boots. That just isn’t going to happen. The Fall and early Winter has been colder than in previous years. We bought ten cords of firewood logs this year. I reduced them to rounds, split and stacked most of it myself. Ended up doing the last two cords with only one working arm. I had some surgery on my left shoulder. The doctor told me to not pick up more than five pounds with that arm. I waited until six days after the surgery to start splitting the last two cords. I was using the left arm just to balance the round before I put it on the splitter.

The geese have, finally, resigned themselves to their captivity. They are no longer trying to get around, over, under or through the fencing. Their pond has frozen solid so we’re having to take water to them every day. Taking water to them every day is a small chore until you find yourself ’post holing’ through 18 inches of snow. This struggle led to starting the snow blower. The snow blower was built for the genteel suburban snow. That is to say moving snow off concrete or asphalt paving. The suburbanite opens his/her garage door, starts the snow blower and cleans his/her driveway and sidewalk. No problem as the machine is operating on a hard surface and does not get stuck every three feet. The narrow tires sink into the snow left behind and will not proceed forward. When shifted into reverse it will not back up without some major snatching and jerking to get it out of the holes the tires dug. I spent almost an hour and a half forcefully shoving the plow forward in order to clear a path to the goose house. This time included the time I had to take to let my pulse get back under 140 or some number that made me think my heart might jump out of my chest at any moment. I seriously contemplated what I might do if I stroked out. I really didn’t want Summer to find me slumped over that confounded machine dead. I certainly got my cardio for the day. After resting up for awhile I plowed my way to the wood tent and then to the conex (40’ shipping container) and the water tank sheds. This plowing while strenuous was done on packed gravel which made it a lot easier.. Not easy but easier.

After my heart pounding trip to the goose house it was time to take water to them and then post hole my way to the chicken house to collect eggs and check on their water. They were good on food as Summer had dumped fifty pounds of food in their feeder the night before. Of course, they were out of water so struggling back through the snow to get a bucket of water and then returning with that 40 pound bucket of water pretty much did me in for the day. It was only about 3:00 PM and sunset was just over and hour away, but I was done. There would be no more snow blowing trenches.

The next morning I ate my cinnamon raisin bagel, sucked down 32 ounces of coffee and then went outside to start the infernal machine. I was and did plow/trench my way to the chicken house. It was pretty much a repeat of the goose expedition only maybe 20 feet further and on the side of a hill. During the previous days fiasco I developed some techniques that made it somewhat easier. I got pretty much the same cardio workout but finished the longer course in less time. Just as I got the blower back up the hill a neighbor, one of Summer’s friends, arrived with his snow plow truck. He had plowed his own driveway and the drove down to our house to plow our road. This, usually, costs money but he does it for us no charge. Snow plowing isn’t his occupation. He works up on ’The Slope’ or in oil field for you Lower 48 denizens. It just happened that the last blizzard came at a time when he was off the job for a couple of weeks. I think he works 2 weeks on 2 weeks off but now that I’ve said it I realize that I really don’t know. After he had plowed the road he was backing out to the main road and somehow got his truck stuck. He’s gotten a little too close to the edge of the road and the truck slipped down the slight embankment. My truck covered in snow and ice had to be cleared to be able to see well enough to extricate his truck. After my truck had warmed up and melted the ice off the windshield, I went to pull him out. Had to jerk his truck harder than I would have liked to get him out of the ditch. My heavy rope tow line got cut on the blade of his snow plow which leaves me with 6 feet less rope and all of my other rope that size is buried somewhere under two plus feet of snow drift. I guess I’ll just have to make do with the shorter rope until Spring when I probably won’t need a longer rope. After he went on his way, I plowed Summer’s parking area and the ‘turn in’ to the parking.

Summer was at one of the ’up the hill’ neighbors home for a visit a few days ago. For some reason the lady had to move her truck. While moving the truck she backed into Summer’s car. The fender was bent, a headlight crushed, the grille popped out and the radiator support bracket bent. All of this damage on her 2006 Subaru might lead the insurance company to total it out. I was supposed to have repaired the Summer’s Land Rover in latter part of October. However, it rained and rained and rained and then when the rain stopped it started snowing. Needless to say the Rover is not repaired. Of course, we look like the rednecks we are with a dead car on blocks in the yard. The Rover repair is postponed until May or June of next year. Summer has said that she could borrow one of Dan’s (her significant other) trucks while the Subaru is being repaired or condemned. If they condemn it she will just buy it back from the insurance company and use the settlement cash to have it repaired. She is in love with that little car.

The poor little Rover abandoned in a snow bank until Spring.

We failed to sell a couple of fruit trees (one pear & one apple) this spring and summer. We now have them sitting in our living room. Because we were trying to sell them (and because of the 42 other ‘opportunities’ that cropped up) they did not get planted on the property. And here in Alaska, it is more than just digging a hole an plopping the tree into said hole. The moose like fruit trees. When the trees are young the moose will eat them almost to the ground and the tree dies. You must build a moose proof wire cage to protect the young trees. We just didn’t have the time, hence trees in living room.

We’ve had continuing water problems. With the new 1000 gallon tank installed and the 500 gallon tank residing in a newly constructed shack, I thought we were good for the winter. Yeah, I was wrong AGAIN. A heat tape failed and the pipe, by which the big tank is filled, froze and cracked. Fortunately, when the pipe froze and burst the pipe was plugged with the ice and we did not lose the 100+ gallons of water still in the tank. Still some of the fiber glass batting insulation got wet so I had to remove it and take it inside to dry off. Two trips to the hardware store plus digging through my own plumbing supplies got the fill pipe rerouted. The insulation, at last, dried and was reinstalled. This process only took parts of two days as there were other chores that needed attending. We had been using water from the 500 gallon tank as the 1000 gallon tank was near empty. We did not realize that the tank heater had failed on the small tank. So when the water truck arrived on Monday, we still could not fill the big tank because of the burst pipe problem had not been resolved. Also, we found that the little tank fill pipe would not work. I opened the tank to find three inches of ice all the way across the tank and into the fill pipe. I used a hammer to break a hole in the ice so that we could fill the tank from the top. I held the hose in the tank while the water guy ran the pump. We got a week and a half of water pumped into the small tank and I got the tank heater working again. The object of the two tanks was to have a month of water and then only have them filled once a month. This would save us a couple of hundred dollars each month. Water is my mortal enemy but I shall prevail over it.

This is Friday at about 8:30 AM. I’m sitting down with a sausage biscuit on which I placed a dollop of mustard and, of course coffee. Sunrise is at 9:54 and sunset will be at 4:02 this afternoon. This means that I’ve got just over 6 hours to tend to the critters, bring in firewood and whatever other outside chore that needs to be done. There is the reopening of the pathways to all of the various destinations on the property. The previous day’s heavy snow (it is still snowing) has rendered the near stroke inducing snow blown paths of Tuesday and Wednesday pretty much useless. I see some snow mowing in my future. If I don’t get the paths blown out again today, they’ll be full again by tomorrow.

I have included some pictures for your enjoyment.

Wednesday’s Sunset after it, temporarily, stopped snowing.
Tuesday just after sunrise,
The Chicken Trench
Icicles after last weekend’s warm up to above freezing.
The Goose Trench
Summer’s ‘closed for the winter’ store.

That’s it for me. While the pictures were loading I fried a Honey Bun in butter and ate it. The sausage biscuit just didn’t do the job. Hope all of you had a Happy Thanksgiving. See ya soon.

Dad’s Alaska

26 November 2021 Friday

Here’s to antacids and fervent hope that this isn’t the last time that most American’s have full bellies.

With Thanksgiving is behind us now and Christmas is looming up before us. Those Americans who were fortunate enough to have eaten their fill yesterday should indeed be thankful. There were some Americans that did not partake of the bounty and there are likely to be a lot more of them by next Thanksgiving. The country is being flooded by non-American poor people from around the world. They are expecting to partake of the bounty of America whilst doing little or nothing to increase that bounty. Many can neither read nor write the language of the country from which they have fled and certainly not American English. Most have not received even the minimum of preventative vaccines for childhood diseases and are bringing with them diseases that were eradicated decades ago in America. They are ignorant of the American culture and many seem to have little interest in assimilating into the culture of America. In other words, there is a whole class of people who will divide up the resources of the American ’safety net’ leaving less for everyone. Our elderly, impoverished America children and war veterans are going to get a much smaller slice of the ’safety net’ pie. All Americans, aside from Native American, are the descendants of immigrants. Virtually all of these immigrants came here legally, adopted the American culture and language. They received no aid and they went to work doing whatever they could to feed themselves and their families. Each ensuing generation did a little better until America had a burgeoning Middle Class. In the past 60 years we have very nearly destroyed the Middle Class with almost unlimited giveaways (so called entitlements) and soaring taxes. So called ”entitlements” have driven men out of the family unit. Our politicians and labor unions have lined their pockets with cash whilst driving most of our manufacturing, the heart of America, overseas. The minimum wage has destroyed youth employment and the work ethic once instilled into young people. High taxes have driven the mothers of the children into the work place and the children are feral because they have no supervision by either a mother or a father. On top of all of that, those among the illegal alien population who are willing to work, will work for less, which will take the last of the jobs that might would have supported an American family. I’m scared to death that America might be done.

We had a White Thanksgiving and we will almost certainly have a White Christmas. About 8 inches of the fluffy white stuff fell out of the gray sky. This did not chill our Thanksgiving cheer. Summer had brined and roasted a chicken for our Thanksgiving dinner. We had cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, candied yams topped with marshmallows, yeast rolls, cranberry sauce, apple and pumpkin pie. There were only three of us to eat so we did not need to cook an entire turkey. Some of the leftover chicken has just become a chicken sandwich. Yesterday’s overeating is being followed by today’s near fasting. I got around to eating the aforementioned chicken sandwich at 2:30 in the afternoon. The morning was nothing but coffee. And speaking of coffee, I cannot fathom how some of you get up in the morning and then don’t drink coffee. 2 to 4 sixteen ounce cups of coffee start my day everyday. I don’t become a functioning human being until I’ve had, at least, one 16 ounce cup of that flavorful brown liquid. Prior to the consumption of that first cup, communication is grunts and gestures. Before coffee, I am an annoyed, non-verbal cave dweller. After that first cup I become my usual calm, collected and verbal self. While I still am not yet ready to do more than sit at the table and read the news on my computer, I am alert and coherent. After the 2nd, maybe 3rd or even 4th cup, I’m ready to put on cold weather clothing and get on with the outside chores.

I may have mentioned that we have fenced in the geese. This has led to the daily chore of making sure that they have water. Their pond has frozen solid so my old beat up body has to schlepp 5 gallons of water to them whether I want to or not. Same for the chickens but they are more of an every third day chore. Picking up the eggs in everyday and sometimes twice a day since they freeze and crack pretty quickly after the hens get off of them. I got these minor chores done about an hour before sunset today. usually do it earlier but the caloric hangover from yesterday slowed me a bit today.

I most certainly did not get all of the summer work done but I did get all of the loose debris picked up. Tomorrow I’ll see if the snowblower will start. i shoveled some temporary dog paths through the snow today. Tomorrow I’ll put in longer and wider paths leading to all of the buildings. The little short legged Taco will then be able to run around outside the house and bark a trees falling in the woods 500 miles away. Betsy being long of leg has no trouble navigating 6-8 inches of snow. She just goes wherever she wants to go.

So far this winter has seemed, if not in fact, colder than the past couple of years. I found a web site called The writer contends and has the proof to show that we are in a low sunspot/ lower output phase of the sun. It appears that even NASA grudgingly agrees with him. He contends that we may be in for several years of colder winters and cooler summers. So far he seems to be correctly analyzing the data. However, time will tell. If the summers are indeed cooler that is going to lower crop yields and, perhaps, create some hungry people in the world.

Today’s high was about 15F Tonight is forecast to be around 0F. Currently at just past sunset it is 10.5F.

Here are some pictures from yesterday’s and today’s snow.

This was from a couple of days ago just for contrast.

Dad’s Alaska

17 November 2021

Here’s to a safe, happy, healthy Thanksgiving and Christmas

Winter has set in with a vengeance. The current temperature at 3:00 in the afternoon is 6F. I had shoulder surgery on the 2nd of November. Since then I split and stacked 3+ cords of firewood. Since I was instructed not to lift anything over 5 pounds with my left arm, my right arm and shoulder got a pretty serious work out. One wood shed tent is completely full the other is about half full for a total of about 8 cords. I’m hoping that this will be enough to get us to April.

A tent full of warming goodness.
The last of the unstacked wood waiting for the Beserker to come back out and play.

Got the last of the wood stacked yesterday. Had high hopes earlier this year that I have all of the wood stored before the first snow. I missed that goal. Went Berserker on it yesterday and completed the task. Only took four pairs of wet gloves, ten frozen fingers and about 3 hours to complete the job. The temp yesterday never got above 16F and the snow and ice on the wood was causing me to fumble around a lot. Picking up the same piece two or three times in order to toss it into the tent where I had to pick up again to stack it was aggravating and tiring. Anyway with the wood, at last, stacked in the tents I was able to get on to other chores like watering the geese, retrieving the chicken eggs, winterizing the log splitter and on and on and on.

Log splitter with gas treated for storage.

The wind blew like crazy last night. The splitter tarp blew off and I’ve yet to find it. The drop cloth cover did not blow off so it was protected from the unexpected snow early this morning. The outside work is either done or will have wait until Spring. After reading, I was expecting and preparing for an exceptionally cold winter for Fritz Creek. The high temp predicted for the next nine days is 19F and the predicted low for the same period is ZERO. Probably going to be burning a lot of firewood and dressing warmer inside the house.

The early morning snow on the truck.
Summer just home from work and my ugly mug

Now that outside work is done, I can get back to finishing the sheetrock in the upstairs bath. There really isn’t much to do. There are a few trim pieces that will take longer to cut that install. There is, also, some missing sheetrock in the ceiling of Summer’s upstairs sitting/media room. This was caused by removing a wall and moving a light fixture. A pain in the rear but not hard work. These little projects will likely occupy me for a couple of days. After that I might just go get a job. I am really very bad at sitting around. Getting a job at my age may be a problem. I can still lift 80 pound sacks of concrete so I am not physically handicapped. Not supposed to be lifting them right now because of the shoulder surgery but in a couple of more weeks lifting boxes or whatever should not be a problem. The bigger problem may be that I haven’t submitted to the Gene Therapy that the government is calling a ”vaccine” The other impediment to gainful employment might be the employer mask mandate. I have not worn a mask anywhere but in my doctor’s office and the hospital. If you want medical care you MUST COMPLY. Anyway my job search might be futile as there are few jobs for old men in the fields in which I am competent. Nobody is going to hire an antique Journeyman Marine Pipefitter, Electrician, HVAC Tech or an Appliance Tech. Best job I’m likely to get is ”Would you like fries with that?” I’m not so prideful that I wouldn’t take the french fries job. Like the old salt said, ”Any port in a storm”.

The outside temperature has dropped to -2F. It was 3.6F when I went outside to get the eggs. Found some of them frozen and cracked. Guess I’m going to have to go on egg patrol a few times everyday. Was filling a bucket with water for the geese and found that the water line is frozen some where. Went to the water house and found that all of the pipe heaters were on. It’s too late in the day to try to troubleshoot the problem as it is nearing sunset. Sunset is at 4:32 today. I took the water that I had in the bucket to the geese and as I was returning I slipped and fell. Fortunately, when I fell I landed on my right shoulder. I didn’t fall very hard and the only thing damaged was my pride. This is the first time I’ve take a tumble this winter so I guess it time to put on the ice cleats.

Well it is 5:30. It’s dark and we have what looks like a full moon tonight. Might be almost a full moon as I am viewing it through a small gap between two spruce trees. Summer just got home and her dogs are going crazy. I guess that’s it for me today.

Miss Suzy doing her favorite trick i.e. sleeping

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to the end of the China flu.

Haven’t written on the blog since last April The reason was that all I could describe seemed so infinitely mundane. The descriptions of building, repairing or destroying seemed redundant and boring as hell. They were boring to me as I was writing about them. Because I don’t deal with boredom very well, I stopped the drivel (my description) and then just couldn’t seem to find the time to get back to the writing. The average time involved to produce a blog is about 3 hours. Something that you read in less than 10 minutes requires numerous revisions in language, photos and the avoidance of dangling participles. The, overweight red faced Hueytown High School English teacher mercilessly pounded punctuation into me as I was retaking 10th grade English as a senior. Her frustration was great. I could tell her why the English or punctuation was wrong but I had not a clue why. Anyway, enough explanation and on to the recent history of our Alaskan adventure. Adventure may be a little overstated. Tribulations might come closer to the mark.

Where to start. We began our 5th year here in Fritz Creek on September 18. It passed us by with our noticing. September is Fall and the snow will come too soon. There are a hundred little things that need to be done before the snow. Dozens of items left in haste to get to the next project during the summer now need to be picked up and put away. You don’t want the snowblower to suck in a chunk of 2×4 or a large rock. It’s damned inconvenient, when you are trying to make paths to the wood tents, the chicken house or to simply give the dogs a place to walk, to suck up a carelessly dropped piece of 10/2 w/ground Romex. I did that last winter. I had to take off my gloves and it took twenty minutes to unwind it out of the snowblower tines. The temperature was only in the low 20s but my fingers were numb by the time I extracted the wire. Trying to be way more careful this winter. Speaking of this winter here is some video I shot two days ago. The cinematography is so bad that I’m afraid that The Idiot will come here and shoot me as well. It was reported early on (and never heard again) that when The Idiot was told that they would have to reshoot the scene he reportedly remarked how “It might be easier to shoot the two of you”. This is, apparently, when he aimed the gun toward the camera and pulled the trigger. Anyway, here is the video.

The snow is gone today. It has been wiped away by a steady downpour. Rain we don’t need. Rain makes mud and we’ve had quite enough mud for one year.

In the last years I built an aircraft landing strip (not really) deck. It was built for Summer to be able to open her Greer Rd Greenhouse which is a seasonal garden center. This past Spring was the first season. She got kind of a late start and didn’t do as well as she had hoped. She had some problems sourcing plant starts. I solved that problem a little late. By the time she got all of her plant starts and other merchandise, most people had already gotten what they would need for this extremely short growing season. She did fairly well considering the late start handicap. She made a lot of new friends and customers that will be back for next Spring’s planting season.

The construction of the aircraft landing strip.

The aircraft landing deck.
Summer taking a sweet tea break. It was hot that day.
The greenhouse being installed.
The finished product. Yep, I noticed some of the pilings sank. Been leveled since this picture was taken.
Shelving ready for plants and a ton of pots across the aisle.

Inside ready for the huge throng of customers.
Outside on the deck with various amendments, dirt and a crap load of pots across the bridge over the River Why..
Some flowers with some potato sets in the foreground
Our built in one day parking lot with some of the baskets Summer planted.

There have been some ’challenges’ this year. Many of you have experienced the mask madness at stores that would not let you in with one of the useless damned things strapped across your face. My solution was to not shop at those stores. Some of the stores only suggested that you wear a mask whilst forcing their employees to mask up. Almost everyone wearing a mask was doing it wrong. I saw one lady with a face shield and no mask which made even less sense than the improperly fitted masks. Summer tried to take the vaccine but had such a violent reaction that they would not give her the second dose. My doctor who was forced to wear the mask agreed with me that, if you can smell the french fries through the mask it is useless. I heard another doctor remark that trying to catch a virus with the available masks was about like trying to catch a mosquito with a chain link fence. The silliness continues, It appears that the more they vax the worse it gets. Not only that the vaxed are ‘shedding’ the virus and infecting others more than the unvaxxed are infecting others. The majority of the unvaxxed don’t have the virus and thus are unable to spread it. It is simple matter of common sense that this is not a ”pandemic of the unvaxxed”. I have been vaccinated for everything from polio to bubonic plague. I am not anti-vax. All of those vaccines were not experimental and provided a mostly permanent shield against that particular disease. These COVID vaccines do not provide a permanent immunity to COVID. I have not taken any COVID vaccine. My doctor recommends it but as I told him ”I may seem a little morbid but I’m 77 and I expect to die from something sooner rather than later”. The only bumper sticker I’ve ever had on one of my vehicles reads ”Fear is not a virtue”. Well enough of that crap.

The summer has been busy. I moved the wood tents from just outside the back door to a position further away. This cleared up the parking at the back door much to Summer’s delight. The POS greenhouse we bought three years ago continues to fall apart. I had intended to pull out all of the corrugated plastic panels and cover the entire thing in proper greenhouse plastic sheathing. That didn’t happen. I guess it will be early next Spring before I get that done. I had the plastic but not the time. Time flies even when you aren’t having fun. I hauled in eight cords of firewood logs and bucked them up into rounds. Summer and I have split five cords so far. We had hoped to avoid having to split wood in the snow but I’m guessing that won’t happen now.

I hammered in 20 something steel fence post and installed four 4×4 treated corner posts to corral the filthy damned geese. Goose crap is as large as that of a small dog and they just dump it indiscriminately. Nothing like goose crap on the soles of your shoes. We had intended to fence in the chickens but we seemed to have run out of time for that as well.

Earlier this year we noticed a grinding noise in the rear end of the Range Rover, Summer’s favorite winter car. It has remote start and heated seats. Anyway, I took it to a mechanic that diagnosed the problem as defective rear brake calipers. He wanted $800 to replace the defective calipers and the two flexible brake lines. I didn’t let him do the job. Too much money. I’m a mechanic. I used to build hotrod engines for people back in the day. I ordered the calipers and then took a couple of months to get back around to the Rover. I pulled the wheel and saw no real problem with the caliper. But since I had the new ones I decided I might as well change it. When I removed the old caliper the entire axle assembly pulled out of the rear end housing. The moron that diagnosed the problem obviously did not have a clue about the real problem. Apparently, the rear end was without lubrication and even though we’d had the vehicle serviced several times and nobody checked the rear end. Back in the old days we changed the oil, checked all of the grease fittings and the rear end. Today there are few, if any, grease fittings and oil changes are ”Wham, bam, thank ya ma’am” and nobody checks anything underneath the car. BTW, the noise was the axle bearings on both sides that were no longer there. Fortunately, we bought a Rover with a bad engine back in the Spring. This was purchased for $500 and to be used for spare parts for Summer’s Rover. It was a bargain because the alternator alone would cost near $300. Plus it had a brand new $150 battery and five very good summer tires. It was the deal of the year. Next Spring I’ll pull the entire rear end and put it into Summer’s Rover. I had intended to do it this summer but didn’t have time.

Leveling the house has become a lost cause. I have given up on the project. After over 2 years of wrestling with this project, I’ve had it. I’m tired of crawling around under the house, getting it level and then having it rise or fall again. Ultimately, It looks as though we will have to spend close to $30k to get a solid concrete foundation under the house. We probably should have done that several years ago but a Steele head is hard and once we start something we are unwilling and unlikely to give it up. With that said, I am declaring an unconditional surrender.

I mentioned earlier that we built the store parking lot in one day. Summer and I rolled out the TYPAR underlayment fabric in the morning. I called the gravel suppliers as we were rolling out the fabric. I was informed that the trucks could only haul 60% of there capacity which meant in order to get the minimum 20 yards that we needed we’d have to have four deliveries instead of two. The major cost of gravel is the transportation. So instead of a $900 parking lot we ended up with a $1600 parking lot. The reason for the reduced loads are the frozen ground thawing under the roadways. It doesn’t thaw evenly so heavy loads can break the asphalt and create pot holes. It is just part of living in Alaska. Had we ordered the gravel in the previous week we’d have gotten the gravel in two loads and saved $700. This is one of those hard lessons learned. Sometimes I think that my Grandma was correct in her assertion that ”You live and learn and then die and forget it all”. Some of the stupid things that I have done in my life deserve to be forgotten.

Well, that’s it for me. I’ve been pecking away at his for near 4 hours. Below are some photos I thought you might like.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to the end of winter.

Spring in Alaska is an ugly, but happy time of the year. The winter was lo-o-ong. Interminable seems a good description. We have worked all of the way through. I was led to believe that when the winter set in the work outside stopped. You would spend the winter eating, drinking and getting fat. That might be true somewhere in Alaska but not here. I am fully disabused of this fairy tale. The work never stops. Critters must be fed and watered. Water has to be hauled. Firewood brought in. Fires built and continuously fed. And all of that is just the daily stuff. The longer term stuff has been continuing the remodeling of the house, getting Summer’s new garden store ready, snow mowing. For Summer’s business, we got the deck down and the greenhouse/tent up before the winter set in. During the winter we spent a lot of time getting the interior ready for the opening in the Spring. We have been struggling to fund the store. It seems simple but it takes a lot of money to get the business started. Summer has bought thousands of dollars in inventory in preparation for the opening on April 29. I sold Spike. I really didn’t need to keep making payments on that big Ram Dually for it to spend, sometimes, a week or 10 days sitting idle. Most of the use of Spike was to haul trash to the dump. Not a really good use of a $37,000 truck. Summer’s business was the beneficiary of the Spike sale after we purchased a 3/4 ton dual cab Ford truck. It’s a nice truck but it ain’t Spike.

The replacement truck.

There is a lot to be said for being completely out of. debt. BUT I sure do miss Spike.

An old man badly needing a haircut and a shave.

We had frozen water problems AGAIN, this winter. I have had it with water worries. I took 12′ of the Conex, walled it up and insulated it. I had to leave a walkway through for the time being. I will be installing another door ASAP. I had expected to install the 1000 gallon tank in the Conex. However, the tank was frozen to the ground and was not moveable. As of this morning, the tank is still frozen to the ground. One of the reasons, beyond the freezing water problem, for the larger tank is the cost of water. With the small tank (500 gallons) the water delivery service is charging us about $270 a month for their service. If we install the larger tank they will deliver the water for about $65 dollars a month. That is the reason that every Monday I haul water from town. The water is free but the gasoline is not. At any rate, the gasoline is way yonder cheaper than having the water service deliver. I’ll finish this project, after the tank comes loose from the frozen ground. Once the new tank is in place and plumbed, I can cease the water hauling operation.

You can still see the ice under the tank.
Insulation between the studs

I built shelving for Summer’s store. It was an easy enough task. It took a lot of time but I figured out the first shelf unit and then was able to precut all of the wood. The assembly was relatively easy. Time consuming but easy. She has already filled most of them with pots. She is going to Anchorage this weekend to get all of the plant starts. The wholesaler has been a little behind so Summer is a little behind in making the plants available for sale. I had installed a small wood stove in the greenhouse portion of the business. It has not worked out very well. I tried to convert it to a drip oil stove and this worked less well than the wood fuel. Now I am going to install a oil fired heater. It has a fan to circulate the heat and is very efficient. This will give the greenhouse a little heat. The current night time temperature is still falling into the mid 30s. That temp will not be good for the new plants. In a couple of weeks the night temps will be in the 40s which will be okay and will allow the end of heating problem.

The wood/oil drip stove that doesn’t produce enough heat.
Shelving built for trays of plants.

Summer has installed the new oak flooring in this upstairs of this ramshackle house we purchased. She did it with some help from Dan (her significant other) and a fair amount of cussing. It looks very good. I am happy that it was her project and not mine. I don’t think I have the patience for the intricacies of hardwood flooring.

Summer’s new oak flooring

Well that’s it for me. I’ll try to post more often. Thanks for reading the blog.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to having survived 2021

Sorry that it has been so long since I wrote on the blog. I’ve been a bit discouraged by the progress that Summer and I are making here at the homestead. It hasn’t been for a lack of effort. It seems that, during this winter, it has been three steps forward and two and a half back. The house leveling has continued. The more I work at leveling it the more certain I am that it cannot be permanently leveled without some major construction. The house sits on 5 beams that are in turn perched precariously upon wooden pilings. A 7.0 earthquake 3 years ago moved the house sideways and partially off the pilings. Another later 4.6 moved the house a little further off the pilings. I was planning a solid concrete footing with treated 6×6 posts under the front wall of the house. I got the 40 feet of form in place and then it began to rain and rain and rain. All of this water washed a few tons of dirt from under the house. This loss of dirt has made the house even more precariously perched on the edge of disaster. When the rain, finally, stopped the form was completely covered in dirt. It was an emergency situation because the weather was beginning to turn cold. I hand dug individual holes for concrete footings for the new pilings that I placed under the existing beam. The original plan was to install a new beam under the outside wall with 8′ 6″x6″ pilings and 18′ wide by 16-18 inches thick, steel reinforced concrete footing. The individual footings were steel reinforced concrete but since they are not connected to one another they are able to move individually. Individual movement defeats the whole purpose of stabilizing the house. However, had I not installed the new pilings I’d likely be writing this from a rental house somewhere. The old house would be a pile of debris in the hole we had dug so as to make the foundation improvements. The hole is now filled with about two feet of ice as the drain line has frozen. For a while I had nightmares about the house falling over into the hole. Not so much after I installed the new pilings. I’m still worrying about an earthquake sending us sliding into the abyss.

Last Fall, I cut 8 cords of spruce logs into rounds and then split them all. Most of that has been burned by this time. We had both tents full of wood at the beginning of winter. We have a bit over a cord left and 6-8 weeks of cold or cool weather left this winter. I really don’t like cutting it this close so next winter I’ll put up 10 cords. This has been a weird winter in some respects. Snow, then rain, more snow, then more rain, then a crap load more snow. It has not been particularly cold this winter up until this morning. The temperature when I got up at 7 AM, to stoke up the wood stove and make coffee, was 2.9F. As the sun was rising the temp fell to 1.2F. I don’t remember when it was that I began to think of any temp above 25F as warm. Now any day above 35F is a veritable heat wave.

The geese and the ducks have been residing in our garden in a hastily constructed edifice cobbled together from two large packing crates, a couple of sheets of damaged and mostly useless plywood and a few old wooden pallets. They’ve done well, in spite of the hasty construction. We had intended to move the old boat house (the superstructure off a neighbors skiff) but winter caught us before we could move it. It was frozen solidly to the ground by the time we were able to find the time to move it. The original plan was to move it next to the new pond and then fence the critters in. That project will have to wait until the ground thaws in late May or June. The chickens have been living in the greenhouse all winter. Their home was not remodeled due to the lack of time or, perhaps, the misuse of time.

That old saying “When you are up to your ass in alligators, it is difficult to remember that the plan was to drain the swamp”. That has been an apt description of our 3 1/2 years here. It has been something pretty much every time you turn around. The tractor is axle broken, the water pump has quit, a pipe has burst and we lost 500 gallons of precious water, the kitchen sink cold water is frozen, the bathroom commode water is frozen, the bathtub water is frozen, the sewage line is clogged. the sewage line is frozen, an eagle got a young goose, the spring box water supply has dried up., the pond is nearly dry, the tractor battery is dead, the Rover battery is dead, the lawn tractor died, the small trailer has two flat tires, the big trailer had two blowouts and destroyed both rims while hauling firewood logs, too much rain, not enough rain, a moose walked through the garden fence and the chickens and geese had a holiday feast, a bear was in the old chicken house, a bear wandered into the yard and on and on and on. Makes me tired just remembering all of the trials and tribulations. Through all of this and more, Summer and I have persevered. While we have admitted to being discouraged at times, we still have the will to continue. At 76 years old, I can still lift and carry 80 bags of concrete. It hurts, but I can still do it. Maybe this summer, I will get the solid foundation and pilings under the front wall of the house, the chickens moved to a permanent home, the geese and ducks into a permanent home and the 4500 gallon water tank installed to catch the rainwater coming off the roof of the house.

A few days ago, whilst walking head down paying close attention to where i was putting my feet on the icy ground. I almost walked into a moose’s rear end. The knucklehead was standing in the middle of the road and I was as previously stated no paying attention to my surroundings. Fortunately, the moose was unperturbed by my proximity and continued to snack on the small branches of an alder bush. I had walked up to about 10 feet from it before I noticed this 800-1000 pound critter. I backed away to about 20 feet and then hightailed it the 30 feet to my Conex (shipping container) workshop. After I saw that this young moose wasn’t going to do anything but eat Alder stems I did go back outside and try to take some pictures. Looked at my phone later and there were no pictures. Don’t know how that happened. I mentally butt kicked myself several times to remind me that I needed to be more careful as moose kill more people in Alaska than the bears of all three flavors. 7-8 more steps and I’d have collided with the moose’s hindquarters. That as Martha might say “Would not be a good thing”.

This week I spent about 6 hours jacking up the Conex in an attempt to level it. I raised the back end of it about 24 inches. It is almost level. Almost because I want some drop from end to end to shed the rain water and snow melt. We purchased a 1000 gallon water tank (cistern they call them up here) last summer. Another project that didn’t get finished. The point of jacking the Conex level is to install the 1000 gallon tank and move the existing 550 gallon tank into the Conex. I will frame up a fully insulated room to house them inside the Conex. This should do three things: One is the added water capacity so as to not run out of potable water every two weeks; the second is to insure that the water supply lines do not freeze; the third is house all of the pump and filtration equipment in one relatively warm, easily accessible location. I’m giving up 12 feet of workshop/storage for some wintertime peace of mind.

I have two admit that I am sick and tired of the snow. Last fall I was looking forward to and could almost not wait for the snow. While I have continued to work on one project or another all through the winter, I am looking forward to ‘Breakup’ and Spring time. The snow and the frozen ground has put a great deal of needed work on hold. I’d like to get to it while I’m still on top of the sod rather than under it. One of my projects for this summer is to get the downhill side property line cleared. I know where the corners are but can’t see one from the other due to the trees and brush. My downhill neighbor is adamant that I not cut anything on his property, but I’m not quite sure how I will know what is on his property and what is on ours. I one conversation he did not want me to remove a rotten log lying across the property line. I’m not sure what his logic is but I just cut the log off at the line. It’s seems irrational behavior but it is Alaska.

Well that’s it for me. I will attempt to do a better job of keeping you updated in the future.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to a better year!!

31 December 2020. Friday

I have decided, that on this last day of a very lo-n-n-n-g year, that I shall do absolutely nothing beyond this blog. I will do nothing except drink coffee in the morning, sweet tea in the afternoon and vodka in the evening. I’ll do this without the slightest bit of guilt knowing that I have worked my ass off for the past 364 minus a few days of unadulterated laziness. Maybe not laziness. Both the mind and the body need respite from the ongoing aggravations that seem to, like apparitions becoming solid, rear their ugly heads just when you think all is well. “What can possibly go wrong now?” is a question I have ceased to ask aloud or even think. The very thought or utterance of those words invariably gets a very quick and inconvenient answer. When the weather started getting to below freezing I plugged in all of the heat tapes for the various plumbing pipes. One heat tape failed immediately. The drain pipe burst in the downstairs bathroom. Now the bathtub and the hand sink are unusable. I may have told you this before but I’m having to shower upstairs and brush my teeth at the kitchen sink. Fortunately, the downstairs commode still works. Well, it worked right up until it didn’t. One ot the heat tapes on the main drain line failed and it froze. That it did not burst is a blessing. I ran the jet heater under the house all day to no avail. Suddenly the temperature outside went above freeing for a couple of days and it cleared the line. I suspect that the line was not completely frozen. Likely a layer of ice collected at a low spot and the trapped debris flowing down the line. That debris then froze and so on until the line was completely clogged. The solution to this problem arrived a couple of days ago. It is an inside the pipe heat tape. I’ve been going to install it but the weather has been totally weird. Yesterday, for example, we had a blowing snow blizzard in the early part of the day. Then we had sleet, more snow, then rain and sleet, then sleet and snow, then snow and, finally, the sun came out and we had blue skies and puffy white clouds. Because of the oddly warm weather (NO man-made Global Warming comments, please) the entire yard seems to be covered in an inch or more of ice. You take your life and health into your hands, if you set foot outside without ice cleats. ICE CLEATS!! I’d never heard of such a thing before I moved here. Now I have two pairs of shoes with them semi-permanently installed. The only entities allowed outside of the house without cleats are Taco and Betsy Boo and, occasionally Suzy. Even with four feet on the ground, they often find the going, in the backyard, a little tough. Anyway, crawling under the house is possible just not recommended. The ground under the hose is now mud. Made so by the warmer weather. The snow and sleet melting off the roof and the rain is dripping out of the broken gutters. Gutters are another of the myriad of lesser projects yet to be completed.

Just finished off the pot of coffee and was planning a glass of iced tea. A minor problem arose. The tea pitcher was near empty and there was only about a half of a small cup of tea inside. That it when, like so many of my British Isles ancestors, decided I’d have the balance as hot tea. Way back in the history of the USA, before there was a USA, King George put a heavy tax on tea. This drove our ancestors to drinking coffee because there was little or no tax on coffee. This points up a valuable lesson that politicians have yet to learn or maybe they have. If you tax a product at a high enough level people will either stop using the product or find a substitute. King George whose intentions were to punish tea drinking colonists made coffee drinkers out of the majority of those colonists. His actions had an unintentional consequence. This is something our politicians haven’t learned.

My new record player.

Spent some time yesterday evening trying to look up old acquaintances lest they be forgot. I’ve, apparently, reached the age where most of my oldest friends, old friends, acquaintances are dead. I am still in contact with some of the people from my home town (Brighton, Alabama) and some people with whom I attended Hueytown High School during the Jurassic Period of my life. My closest friends of the past 50 years, including my late wife, are all dead. The move to Alaska did not improve my relationship with the few new friends that I made when living in Florida. As i’m wring this, whatever this is, I am watching the disc turn on the record player that Summer gave me for Christmas. What I was watching the record turn and a question came to me. Does the inside of the record turn faster than the outer edge. If it, in fact, does why is the music not in warp speed sounding like Donald Duck on steroids? Another mystery that I really don’t have the care to solve. Some things are just better to be left as a mystery.

Our old friend, Gandolph the Grey or as we preferred to call him, Gandie.

One of the sad things in 2020 was the need to put our old friend down. Gandie was a flea bitten rescue by Summer when we lived in St.Petersburg. He was a terrible mess. Matted hair, skinny as a rail and eaten up with fleas. I don’t think anyone but Summer would have adopted him. He was leading a miserable life even fo a dog. He turned 14, we think, this year. All his get up and go was gone. He, mostly, just ate and slept for the last two years. The Vet looked at him and pronounced him “OLD” a couple of years ago. I the last couple of weeks before we had to put him down, the Vet looked at him again. There was nothing she could do for the old fellow. He was whining in his sleep, he could no longer climb the stairs to take his rightful place on Summer’s bed. At that point, he was in pain, his stool contained blood. The time had come. We just couldn’t let him suffer any longer. We took him to a Vet in Soldotna who put him to sleep while we petted him for the last time. After we left the room, he gave Gandie the fatal dose and his pain was over. A couple of weeks later Summer drove back to Soldotna and picked up his ashes. We have picked a large rock surrounded flower garden where he will come to his final resting place along with the late Cookie. Cookie was part Beagle and something else. She was a good substantial dog that Summer had adopted as a puppy when she was attending Auburn University. She, too, had lived a long and happy life of good food, excellent care and a loving owner. Sometimes, I wish I was some nice person’s dog. Nothing to worry about for all of your life and then a calm and peaceful death when you become critically infirm. Neither Gandie nor Cookie seemed to recognize anyone of us at the last weeks and months of their lives. The had, in the last stages of their lives, what in humans would be Alzheimers or what we once called Senile Psychosis. Good Bye, Old Friends.

Another friend died up here this year. He will be missed by his many friends here in Fritz Creek. He was the best friend of both Dan (Summer’s significant other) and Dave, Dan’s older brother. They had known and been friends with him for most of their lives. For me, he was more of an acquaintance but he was Summer’s friend. Steve Pelletier was a wealthy younger, mid fifties guy. He was one of the nicest people I have ever met. Had a pile of money but you’d have never known it by the way he acted and dressed. No fru fru, no flairs just an everyday guy that I liked. I have made a life of not liking anybody very much. Those that I do like can have my wallet, my car keys and the clothes off my back, if necessary. Those people have been few and far between. ANYWAY, They found Steve lying in his driveway dead. I did not hear anything about the cause of death but I surmised that her had a heart attack. He did have some heart problems with which he and his doctor were dealing. I suspect that they same thing that very nearly killed me at 58 years old, was the cause of his death. My doctor referred to it as”The Widow Maker”. It is a blockage of the artery on the heart that feeds blood to the backside of the heart. If it clogs solid you are dead with in seconds. A significant number of men in their fifties are just going along minding their own business with no apparent symptoms. Then on that fateful day they simply fall over dead. No warning. One minute you are alive and well the next your have gone to meet your maker. Probably not a bad way to die. A moment of sudden pain then nothing but a funeral.

Summer in her prize winning ugly Christmas sweater before going around the neighborhood passing out bags of beignets.

This week has been a complete bust as far as getting any work done on the house. For the last several days the temperature has been at or near 40F during the day and barely below freezing during the night. The completion of the house leveling has been postponed due to the ground not being frozen solid. I could jack it up by putting concrete or wooden blocks under the jacks. With the ground so soft the blocks would just disappear into the ground. I did that last Summer and I really don’t want to, unintentionally, bury any more wood or concrete blocks. I did get a few things done: I made a dump run; cleared off my work bench in the conex; cooked beans and rice for the critters (That’s another story): Sharpener all the axes, the chainsaws; swept the floors; rearranged the hallway we are using for a pantry; sanded the driveway; hauled in more wood’; moved wood in the tent where the hole was allowing the rain in to a dryer spot; picked up items in the snow that the rain had exposed; damn near walked into a very big cow moose and dozens of other things that I cannot remember as they were done so quickly or of such little note to even register as some task done. One thing i can say for a certainty is that I did not expect “rain delays’ at the end of December. I guess 2020 is simply not going to quit be the hellacious year that it has been.

This year has been just one unaccomplished thing after another. Like the old saying in the Robert Burns book ‘To a Mouse’ and John Steinbeck’s book ‘Of Mice and Men’. “The best laid plans of men oft time go awry” has been a substantial understatement in describing 2020. Summer’s Garden Store was completed two weeks too late for the fall bulb planting season. She only had two weeks before the ground started freezing and precluding the planting of all of those beautiful flower bulbs. Now she is holding over inventory until Spring and hoping that the mice won’t destroy them. I did not get the tractor repaired. It continues to leak gear oil all over the place. When I park it I am placing a coffee can under the leak so as to collect the expensive gear oil. The green house was to be recovered with plastic. That didn’t happen. All we had time to do was pull a tarp over the missing panel locations. The permanent chicken house and run didn’t get built. Neither did the permanent Goose enclosure that we had planned. The Land Rover started making some weird noise on the back axle and a mechanic deemed it necessary that we should spend $800 on a $1500 car. It didn’t happen as we are crazy not stupid. He was a nice guy and when I went to pay him for his trouble he said “Merry Christmas”. That was an unusual bright spot in 2020 and I’ll be taking him some business in the future. It took me from February until late October to get any response from my auto insurance company USAA. I was trying to file a claim for the fender I damaged and for the other fender someone at Home Depot had so graciously smashed along with the rear bumper. In early November, they sent a couple of checks, which I, somehow, managed to throw in the stove to build a fire one morning. I am assuming that the fire was their fate, as I have yet to find them. I called their Rep in Anchorage. He had them reissue the checks. By this time it was almost December. I found a local auto body shop and gave them the checks, they ordered the parts necessary one of which was a complete fender. The fender arrived bent. pretty much, in half. They had to reorder the fender and as of this date we still don’t have a fender. That bent fender was the only one in all of Alaska. I, now, have no idea when the truck will be repaired. I’m selling the damned thing as soon as it is repaired. I can sell it for nearly as much as I paid for it in Florida 3 1/2 years ago. I might be 3-4000 down but I drove it for 3 1/2 years. A $1000 a year doesn’t seem an exorbitant price to pay for using a Dodge 3500 Double Cab Dually with a 8′ bed. It is a big truck that I no longer need. Seems a waste to haul trash to the dump and pick up a bit of lumber from Home Depot in it.

For those of you on the East Coast you are either drunk or getting drunk as it is a bit after 9:00 PM your time. Only just after 5:00 PM here in Fritz Creek, Alaska. I’M CALLING IT DONE. Stay safe and DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE.

Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to a Happy New Year and less government intrusion..

24 December 2020 Thursday

The night before Christmas and all through the land the Democrats are saying, “Your Christmas is canned”. Out in the street I heard such a clatter went to the window and saw Black Lives Matter. Up on the roof top of my neighbor’s car was an ANTIFA whacking it with an iron bar. In tighty whiteys, shotgun in hand, I ran through the door thinking that the fun had began. I fired one shot into the air and they kept comin’ and I didn’t care because I knew I would just keep gunnin’. Loving wife in her house coat brings me the ammunition to keep me afloat. The BLM zombies kept coming and coming and not a moment too soon my neighbors came running. We bashed them, we shot them and splattered them asunder. We knew pretty soon the whole bunch would soon be six or more feet under. After it was over Steve, with his backhoe, dug a big hole and into the abyss their bodies we did roll. The moral to the story is that what the Socialist and Communists do in the Democrat big cities ain’t gonna play well in flyover country.

Curiosity is an odd thing but recently I have found that I am uncurious. Incurious? Non-curious? WHATEVER! My curiosity, like my ‘get-up-n-go’, seems to have got up and went. I’m not sure where it went. I am sure that it either no longer exists or exists only minimally in some parallel universe. I’ve decided that my lack of curiosity is attributable to either “I just don’t give a damn” or, perhaps, I already know everything I want to know or need to know. One thing I know with some certainty is that my ‘hard drive’ is full and that it keeps deleting stuff when new stuff is inputed. This causes me to leave one room and go to the next and not remember why I went there or not remember names of people I’ve known most of my life. I find myself at a point where I really don’t care why birds can fly, why grass is green or why a little salt makes sugar sweeter. Those and many other things happen daily and I marveled at them long ago. I now just accept that they proceed without the benefit of my curiosity. The point being that elections in the past 160+ years have assumed the same status. They just happen. I was sixteen, when Mayor Daly (Democrat, Chicago) stole the presidential election from Richard Nixon. A electoral cheating incident that is universally accepted as fact today. Cheating in elections is as American as apple pie starting in the 1850s by Tammany Hall in New York City. That set the bar high for the Democrats. The Tammany Hall method was copied in all of the major cities in the US. Cheating in elections was rampant and expected, if Democrats wanted to keep control of those cities. In this last election, the Tammany Hall (many of you didn’t get a single history lesson) formula was carried out on steroids. Cheating is not new. The cheating on the scale that just took place this past election is unprecedented. We Americans have always looked to the court system to rein in the avarice and unconstitutional behavior of the political class. This time, that has not happened. The entire court system seems unconcerned about the violations of state and federal law. They have refused to even examine the mountains of evidence and sworn affidavits of malfeasance. They have no curiosity and have simply accepted it. They have proceeded as if nothing has happened. As I’ve stated they have proceeded without the slightest curiosity as to the facts. Their determined refusal of oversight does not bode well for our Democratic Republic. Please to note that we are not a “Democracy”. The problem with this cheating is that, in order to compete, the other side will be forced to cheat. Either that or they will never win another election. With both sides cheating as fast as they can, the end of our Democratic Republic will be pretty damned close. There will be no confidence by any citizen that any politician was legally elected regardless of party affiliation. There really is only one solution. That solution is to do away with machine counting and only have in person voting. Then all votes will have to been hand counted. Sure there will be some cheating but not on the wholesale scale of this last election. Any solution that fails to do these three things is ripe for massive cheating in other ways. Humans adapt and will find another new way to cheat, if such a way exists. Without free and fair elections we are no longer a country we are just another ‘Banana Republic’.

We have been working hard to get the house in order. That has been an all consuming job. The super hard freeze I’ve been hoping for hasn’t happened. In the last hard freeze, I did get the center of the house leveled from end to end. The weather keeps warming and water keeps running under the house. The underneath is a swamp of mud, goose crap, duck crap and feathers. Not a place where you want to go belly crawling. The back part of the house needs to be lowered about and inch and a half. With the ground being soft, it is really not possible to jack it up and remove the shims. As soon as the rear wall is leveled the kitchen will get remodeled. New hardwood floors installed. New cabinets installed and we, finally, have something approaching normality. Summer will begin installing the hard wood flooring in the upstairs as soon as the rear wall is down. The remodeling of this old house is proceeding even with all of the impediments. Hopefully, by the Spring we will be at the end of our construction trials and our associated tribulations will be coming to an end. At last, I’ll be able to get the hell off this hill and get a life.

We’ve still got the geese and ducks in their own compound. The wind storm night before last knocked down the pallets that were acting as both gate and fence extension. Funniest thing is that the critters would not walk across the pallets to escape. Their freedom was right there in front of them and they were too afraid to move. Sounds like a lot of people around the world. Oddly the same thing happened to the chickens. A panel blew out of the greenhouse and it was right behind the roost I built for them. They could have stood on top of the roost and flown to their freedom but they didn’t. We Americans may be standing at similar point in time. Our freedom is right in front of us but we stay in the virtual government prison.

It has snowed, froze then rained and the froze again. The ground is covered in an inch or more of ice. Walking is scary. The thin cover of snow does not keep your feet from pressing through to the ice. I have gotten to the point where I do not go outside without wearing ice cleats. The time or two that I did I came dangerously close to bustin’ my old ass on the ground. Ay my age, 76, a hard fall on the ice might just be the Coup de Grau, The End, T-T-That’s All Folks. Since I am extremely allergic to death, I have assiduously avoided it regardless of the cost. By all rights, I should have been dead numerous times. I have been so close so many times that once I thought I saw the grim reaper standing in the hallway looking into my hospital room before my heart surgery in 2001. A couple of days after my 47th birthday I was visiting my father. This was just shy of two months before he died. He had lung cancer that was metastatic. He was paralyzed from the waist down and was confined to his bed. I, in my usual self absorbed Boomer manner, was telling him how I’d never really expected to live so long. He listened to my rant and at the end said nothing for what seemed several minutes. He had been staring at the wall in front on his bed as I talked and he continued to do so after I quit talking. After the pregnant pause he turned to me and said “Hell, Boy, I didn’t think you’d live to be 21”. That gave me a whole new perspective on life. He died in December and I cried like a baby at his funeral. I, like many first born sons, had a love-hate relationship with my father. This the 29th December after his death, I still remember.