Home Sweet Home: Nov. 28, 2017

Well what did we do today?  Well, I had two cups of coffee with Creme Brûlée coffee mate.  I wrote a catch up blog and now I back to real life.  So, after coffee we partially sheet rocked the downstairs bathroom and re-installed the toilet.  After that, we checked the water issues with the hot water and fixed them we have a flushing commode downstairs and the hot water works in the kitchen sink.  Yay!  Let’s hope it stays that way.  After fixing all those problems Dad had to go to Ulmer’s for a few things to help us install the vanity into the bathroom.  So while Dad made the big trip into town, I did dishes with hot water straight out of the sink.  LOVE IT!

I gave the dogs some pigs ears that I found that I got from Tractor Supply before we left Florida.  They are enjoying themselves.

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Taco is so happy and enjoying his pig ear and in the top left suzy is gumming her’s.  LOL

So after the dishes, Dad wanted to fix the vanity and get it installed.  I’m like, “It’s 3:00 pm and we only have an hour of light left.  I’m unloading what I can unload out of the enclosed trailer.”  Then, Dad was like, “I sure would like to have my recliner tonight.” So, if Dad was going to have his recliner, I was going to have my couch!  So, we unloaded all the heavy crap out of the trailer and into the Conex (the Pod) and was able to reach my couch and Dad’s recliner.  Even though I have been ignoring my hand and not wearing my cast, Dad made me put it on afterwards and then soon had to take it off to be able to type my blog.  Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to let ya’ll know what’s been going on.  Which is some of the reason why I have been slacking on writing my blog.

So, we worked our butts off the clean the house and organize to get the couch and recliner in this old house.  So, we spent most of the hour of the two hours of unloading to organize boxes and get stuff we don’t need right now into the pod.

I decided we needed a before and after pictures.  So here you go.

There are some happy dogs right now.  IMG_3700

For dinner I am making beef fajitas.

It was so good!   Me and Dad are so full from the fajitas!  I even got to wash my vegetables in my sink.  Now I am enjoying a sit by the fire on my couch that I have missed so much.  IMG_3704

Busy Like a Bee

Time has flown by and I didn’t even realize that I hadn’t written on my blog in a while.  We have been so busy trying to get the house in livable shape so the inspector has something to go on.  Working on the downstairs bathroom trying to get it ready for sheet rock and putting down a new plywood floor has taken up a lot of our time.  So much time we forgot about house chores.  That means laundry, dishes, sweeping and dusting what we can around boxes, sheet rock and plywood.  It’s a real pain.  So, that took us the morning and half the day to get it ready for the inspector.  Which was nice, someone had to light a fire under our asses to get the “normal” things done.

The other day the humidity was around 70% which in this cold weather magnifies the mountains and the bay.  It was so big looking that it almost felt like you could just walk over there and touch it!  It was very cool.

Saturday, we had a belated Thanksgiving dinner with my neighbors’ family and friends.  There was so much food that Dad and I ate ourselves into a coma.  Sunday, was a slow day due to the amount of tryptophan we consumed the night before.  I woke to a little finch like bird in my bedroom for the second time.

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I had to open the window and shoo it out for the second time.  We are not sure where this little guy came from but he was there.  Dad ate chicken noodle soup and of course, I ate more leftovers and was just about worthless.  We managed to get the plywood up on the bathroom wall and now is ready for sheet rock.  I took the dogs out to use the bathroom and I saw an ermine!  They are cute little buggers!  It was all white except for the tip of it’s tail which was black.  They eat voles!  Which I hadn’t seen those little critters running around in the  house in a while.  I wish I would have videoed the little guy.  He/She was jumping in and out of it’s snow tunnels looking at Taco and I.  I borrowed a picture off the inter web to show you have freaking cute they are.

ermine

They are in the weasel family and are very small.  They turn white in the winter.  During the spring and summer they look like this.

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Still cute as a button!

Also, the weather channel said the biggest storm on earth might get us!  My friend Tammy saw the same thing on the weather channel and was worried about us.  I get Alaska Severe Weather updates on my email and didn’t get anything so I had no idea a big storm that looks like a hurricane was heading through the Gulf of Alaska.  So, I started preparing by hauling wood to the house and chucking it in.  It’s the fasted way to get wood in your house but extremely messy.  Then, it needs to be stacked.

This jet sled is a girls best friend, not only can you drag firewood and other stuff on it, but it makes a human sled!  I can’t wait!

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Monday we woke up early and finished the bathroom floor and managed to clean the house to the best of our ability.  We were as ready as we were going to be.  As far as we know the inspection we well. Dad and I cleaned dishes and then I needed to go to town to  mail something and get some salad stuff and suddenly realized I was craving lasagna.  So, I decided I was going to make it myself.  Got everything I needed and headed home.  Then it was time to prepare dinner.  It has been the best lasagna I have had in a long time.  I sautéed onions, shallots, and garlic then added the beef.  Let that simmer.  My sauce started out as a glass jar of marinara and too got the special treatment of a nice Cabernet, garlic, spices, a little sugar and sautéed for about an hour.  Mixed ricotta cheese and partisan with some mozzarella cheese and was ready to put together!  Once baking in the oven and prepared garlic bread as well.  Safeway has this french baguettes that are to die for.  I have to buy two because the first one is almost eaten by the time I get home.

So dinner was yummy and we will continue to eat leftovers until I need to freeze them.

Bob’s Version: Day 66 Homestead

Homestead Day 66 Monday 11/27/2017 Got up this morning at 7:15 and pushed the ‘coffee button’. Yesterday some news weather lady was hyping the storm in the Gulf of Alaska. She was practically screaming ‘the strongest storm on earth today”. Therefore when got up I was that expecting the the strongest storm on earth yesterday had dumped a prodigious amount of snow. NOPE. I don’t think it snowed at all last night. About 1:00 this afternoon we had a little flurry that lasted maybe 30 minutes

We cleaned the house as thoroughly as possible amongst boxes, dogs, dog beds sheets of sheet rock and plywood remnants. House cleaning turned into a serious half day job. About 2:30 Summer abandoned me and was off to town for some supplies or respite from her grumpy father or, perhaps, both. I picked up a few odds and ends and started the laundry.

Everyday I get earthquake alerts. Summer put the app on my phone and I’m enjoying knowing where around the “Circle of Fire’ the earth is getting jumpy. If it were in my near vicinity, I’d most likely know. Although the wood pile beside the stove fell at about 10:00, there were no quake notices. So it was likely that earth gravity set in on the firewood. Summer was anticipating the same “strongest storm on earth” snow. She brought in a 3-4 day supply. All that work for nothing. Kind of like prepping for a “hurricane of the century” that falls to a simple gale force wind just before it gets to you. You’ve worked like crazy to prepare and then nothing. That it subsided was a good thing, but if the overzealous news knuckleheads hype them all as “the storm of the century”you will, eventually, ignore the warnings.

Tonight’s dinner is homemade lasagna. Homemade meaning not coming out of the grocery store freezer. Sauce comes in a glass jar, noodles that don’t need to be precooked and hamburger meat sautéed with onions, garlic and shallots. It was very good.

Bob’s Version: Day 65 Homestead

Homestead Day 65 Sunday 11/26/2017

A day of recovery from the excesses of Saturday night’s overeating contest. Coffee, news and buttered toast w/no jelly. Didn’t need the calories. I can almost get into a pair of size 36 pants. I can remember when I wore a size 28. Of course, I was 70 pounds lighter and 60 years younger. The only thing that really irritates me about getting old is having to wear glasses. The constant effort to keep track of the miserable things is a absolute distraction.

Unfortunately, they are a fact of life.

Today I finished up the leftover work on the bathroom wall and filled in some bad spots on the floor. Ran out of big pieces of plywood, I was forced to make a jigsaw pattern of wood on the floor. The insurance inspector is coming tomorrow to see that we are living in the house and that we had all of the utilities run safely. I never had that type of inspection on a house before except when selling one. Usually they look at the roof and go away. It appears that things are somewhat different in Alaska.

Made an early day of it as I just had no ambitions beyond piecing the floor together. Anyway a good bit of the floor will have to come out with the bath tub and the surround in January. So patching it up is just a short term solution to a long term problem. I’m always telling people not to do that, but sometimes a short term solution is the only one available. Tomorrow will bring the inspector and a good deal of housekeeping. We have neglected the housekeeping in favor of repairing the house. Will probably do some laundry as part of the housekeeping effort.

Sunday, Summer ate leftovers from Saturday’s repast. I had a bowl of chicken noodle soup and some saltines early and then a peanut butter and jelly sandwich later. I wasn’t very hungry.

Bob’s Version: Day 65 Homestead

Homestead Day 65 Saturday 11/26/2017 Drank the usual 8 cup ration of coffee. and read some news. Tried, AGAIN, to get my email to work Get incoming, I cannot send. Summer wasn’t able to sort it out which means ‘I have a snowball’s chance in hell of fixing it’. After a frustrating half hour, I left it as I found it. Not working.

Worked on finishing the downstairs bath wall. The exposed insulation wasn’t all that pretty. Got all of the wafer board up and am ready for sheetrock. A small milestone passed. I take them big or small as long as we’re moving forward.

We unwrapped and rewrapped the kitchen sink drain under the floor. Installed a new heat tape and extra insulation. Did find out why the first heat tape wasn’t working. I had, inadvertently, placed the heat tape thermostat onto the heat tape instead of on the pipe. So every time it came on the thermostat would turn it off immediately. I am so brilliant sometimes. In a hurry, cold and distracted are the excuses I’m using to help me not feel like a total dolt.

The weather has been pretty good over the past week or so. I think we had one night in the lower teens and we’ve had a minor snow flurry or two. Mostly blue skies and puffy white clouds. The humidity has been extremely high as just over 70%. The refraction of the moisture makes the mountains across Kachemack Bay look as though they’re just across the road. It has taken the dogs a while to become accustomed to doing their business in the snow. Maybe they just think it is white grass now. Suzy, the Yorky, has a bit of a time though as this light snow fall is deeper than her legs are long. I have to tamp down the snow so she able to move around. Breaking trail for a dog. That’s something I never thought I’d be doing.

This evening we went to a neighbor’s home for a belated Thanksgiving Dinner. They delayed the dinner for a couple days so that some of their family and friends could come down from somewhere up north. Turkey, dressing, yams and a host of other foods were there and I ate until I very nearly burst.

Bob’s Version: Day 64 Homestead

Homestead Day 64 Friday 11/23/2017 Got up late this morning. There was no apparent reason for it, as I didn’t stay up very late last night. Guess I was just tired. Either that or I’m practicing to be dead. I think I’ll go with the “tired” excuse. Aren’t almost all excuses tired. Most of them are so old that they need to be in a retirement home or dead. “The dog ate my homework” is likely the poorest excuse for an excuse. Therefore, I won’t use that one while I’m writing this a day later than I should have done. My sidetracks have sidetracks that have sidetracks “to infinity and beyond”. So just going from one room to another entails two or three things being done other than the thing that I set out to do. Often I have forgotten what it was that I came into that room to do. I’m puzzled. Is it old age or just too many irons in the fire. I just looked that old saying up. The explanation was that when a blacksmith had too many irons in the fire he couldn’t keep up with them. Not a satisfactory answer. Anyway, here I sit in front of the wood stove, while Summer preparing dressing and yams for the potluck Thanksgiving dinner for this evening, pecking away at this computer. I say “pecking away” because, while I did take typing in high school, I really can’t type.

Friday was an off day as I seem to have gotten nothing done. Wasn’t for lack of trying. Summer had gone up to the neighbors house to pick up the turkey guts and neck for her dressing to be made on Saturday. While she was gone I had a few minutes of an odd feeling that I hadn’t felt in a long time. No heart palpitations or anything just kind of a panic attack feeling. I used to have them fairly often. I was a little scared but then I realized I have been off my meds for almost a week. Sidetrack!!! I took my pills after the feeling subsided. Since we moved here I have been really complacent about the pill taking. When you break your normal routine, things just get forgotten. I need to get back into the VA system after we return from the Christmas holidays in The Lower 48.

We discovered that that heat tape installed on the kitchen sink drain on Wednesday was not working. Normally, it takes a couple of days to thaw a pipe with heat tape and this one didn’t thaw. Heat tape must be defective. Sent Summer to town for another heat tape and more insulation. During her trip, I tried to find all of my tools. I’ve developed a bad habit of leaving them right where I finished with them. I know I should put them away but I’m, usually, off to the next project that doesn’t require those particular tools.

Summer returned too late to do anything about the kitchen drain. Too cold, too tired (for no apparent reason), and too old to be crawling under the floor after dark plus I was still a little afraid after the afternoon panic attack or whatever. We watched some TV and then Summer made dinner.

We had Teriyaki Ginger Salmon with Candied Carrots and a Salad for an excellent dinner.

Bob’s Version: Day 63 Homestead

Homestead Day 63 Thursday 11/23/2017 Today was another beautiful day in paradise.

I didn’t realize it was Thanksgiving until this evening. Spent the entire day working on the house and the water supply. So I hope all of you had a very Happy and Tasty Thanksgiving.

There are so many things that need done and the damned water quit again. I am truly losing my mind over this water situation. Every day seems to bring a new water problem. I promised myself, as I was crawling under the floor last evening, that come January I would run electric under the house with one switch to turn on all of the heaters. Also, that come spring I would put a water barrier around the house and put gravel right up to the top of the barrier. I’ll live with this aggravation one season, but I’ll be dipped if I will ever do it twice. We have a small creek that crosses the property. Next spring I am going to have a springbox built. We plan to use this to water plants in the proposed greenhouse but a friend of mine suggested that we get the proper filters and use it for the homestead’s water supply. Of course, this will require constant testing of the water but will be substantially less expensive than buying $200+ worth of water every month.

Today’s disaster was that the heat tape for the outlet valve of the tank failed and the outlet froze. Fortunately, the frozen water expanded back into the tank and did not burst the valve or the line. Small blessings are taken willingly and with deep gratitude. This problem was solved by placing a 75 watt light bulb in close proximity to the outlet. After about an hour we had water yet again.

UPS delivered a package yesterday afternoon. It contained 200 feet of heat tape. This tape is mostly used for keeping snow and ice from destroying the gutters of the well-to-do. Summer and I wrapped all 200 feet around the bottom of our water tank. We’ve had an iceberg in the tank for several weeks. The iceberg is limiting our available water supply. After three warmups, because you can’t do the wrapping with gloved hands, we got the heat tape installed. We warmed up again and then installed the insulation on the tank. BTW the outside temp with no wind was about 14 degrees. Once the insulation was installed and all of the electric connected and turned on the water wasn’t running AGAIN. It had frozen while we were trying to get the tank wrapped and heated. Water and electricity don’t mix very well so we had the power off while we were working. With the restored power I was hoping that it would thaw soon and about two hours later it did. We still have a sink full of dirty dishes. Maybe we’ll get up in the morning and the water will flow.

The downstairs commode is still not working. I checked it and there is no water coming through the valve. Either the valve is clogged or the line is frozen. Since we noticed that the tank was slow to fill, I’m betting on a defective or clogged valve. That is a project for tomorrow.

Summer went to her friends house for moose something as we are having a potluck Thanksgiving dinner at their house on Saturday. They killed one of their turkeys for this upcoming repast. This means I’ll have to take part of Saturday off to take my weekly bath and make myself as presentable as possible. I haven’t had a haircut in over three months, maybe near four, which makes presentable difficult. I AM NOT paying someone $25 for an $8 haircut. I have a full head of hair but it is really thin. Any competent barber could cut it in 6-8 minutes. I’m not paying $3-$4 a minute to sit in a barbers chair. I’ll just wait until I’m in Florida for Christmas to get a haircut. Summer volunteered to cut it but I’m afraid that the result would look worse than it already does.

Dinner tonight has, so far, consisted of Vodka-seven and Vienna Fingers. I may fix something later but since we’ve moved to Alaska I’ve not been very motivated to eat. After my wife, Connie, passed I have not been motivated by much of anything or to do anything. I thank God for this house, with all of it’s aggravations, as it has given me a reason to live.

Bob’s Version: Day 62 Homestead

Homestead Day 62 Wednesday 11/22/2017

Today was another day beautiful day. The air was full of humidity and it magnified the mountains across Kachemack Bay so that they appeared even larger and a lot closer than they really are. Skipped breakfast again unless you count 8 cups of coffee as breakfast. Read some of the usual bad news from around the world while consuming ‘breakfast’ and then got on with the work.

The first order of business was to close the inside wall of the old cabin, It makes up one side of the hallway and leaks cold air like crazy. I caulked every location that even appeared that it might leak and the floor to ceiling gap where the cabin and the house were joined. You could see daylight through that crack. I installed to sheets of wafer board and then sheet rocked over that. That was the end of that pneumonia hole. It’s fate was sealed.

Having finished the hallway I turned my attention to the downstairs bath. While it is sealed up and not leaking cold air into the house, it needs the same treatment as the hallway. The first project was to removed the remains of the old sheetrock that was under the edge of the tiled tub surround. And do it without knocking down all of the tile, of course. Several attempts later, I hit upon the idea of putting one of my worn out sawzall blades into my RYOBI saw. Worked like a champ. Got all of the sheetrock out of slot deep enough to get the wafer board slightly behind the tile. The tub and the tiled surround are truly ugly and the tub plumbing leaked and the floor under it needs to come out. The rigid joint between the tub and the drain pipe broke due to the settling of the house. All will be replaced in the Spring, if we don’t fall through the floor beforehand. Back to the wafer board. I had a piece leftover from earlier project and it almost fit perfectly. It was the right length and width. All I need to do was cut a notch where the support beam for the upstairs comes through the bath and use the holes to cut out for the vanity plumbing. Just as I finished screwing it to the studs I heard “Daa-a-ad”.

Summer had discovered that the kitchen sink was leaking underneath to the connection to the sink from the drain pipes. Yep. Both of them. I had, apparently, tightened every thing but them to the max. The root cause of the leak was that the sink drain line had frozen. That line had so much drop in it I didn’t expect that is would or could freeze. Summer headed off to town to get a pipe heating tape at 3:30. She was hurrying as she wanted to shower, dry her hair and get ready for dinner and drinks with some new friends. It was still almost an hour before she returned.

While Summer drove cautiously fast, I moved the wire shelving she had assembled earlier to the newly warm hallway. This led to clearing canned goods and whatever off all the flat surfaces in the kitchen. The Steele Family has always had and is a carrier for a terrible disease. It’s commonly called FSD which stands for Flat Surface Disease. The symptoms are every flat surface in the house is covered in some manner with paper, books, magazines, small cardboard boxes and detritus from all manner of places. This manifests itself as being too lazy, too busy or not knowing where to put the whatsit and then just placing it on the nearest flat surface until you have time or can figure out where it belongs. Over time the flat surface accumulates so much stuff that it begins to fall off. This is when you rake most of it into a trash bag and throw it away or burn it. There is some sorting of the pile, but we aren’t hoarders. We pay all of our bills online so there is rarely a piece of paper important enough to miss it, if it gets burnt in the stove.

Summer returns. I get dressed for crawling under the house. I round up the duct tape, the insulation, the flashlight, the heat tape, an extension cord and crawl under the house. Thirty minutes and some very cold hands later, I crawled out with the deed done. Now all we have to do is wait for the pipe to thaw and the sink to drain before attempting to wash dishes.

Summer left at about six and I sat down to read the news. I didn’t get through my usual 10-12 news sites this morning so I was feeling seriously uninformed. About 8:00, I made myself a three egg omelet with onions, some cheese and red pepper flakes. I sautéed the onions in butter and when they were translucent I poured the egg into the piled on the cheese and sprinkled the red pepper on the egg. It folded properly for a change is it was a nice easy dinner. Nice easy clean up too, I ate it out of the pan.

Work and Play: November 22, 2017

I woke up with the sun blasting in the window into my eyes.  It seems I slept in.  When the sun is over the mountains and bright you’re looking at maybe 10am.  It wasn’t just me Dad slept in too.  We drank our morning coffee and went back to work.  We finished sheet rocking the wall by the front door and Dad started working on the bathroom wall.  While he was doing that I was figuring out the bits and pieces of wire racks that I dismantled back in Florida.  Only to see there are parts missing on one.  It took me an hour or so to locate parts and figure out what goes where.  In between all this I am helping Dad as well.  I’m able to put two of the racks together and we about to start the dishes in the sink when low and behold it’s not draining.  It seems when we went underneath the house “the Underworld” wrapping heat tape and insulation around the pipes we failed to think about the sink.  At the time it was not installed.  So, out of sight out of mind.  The sink also started leaking at the seams, but was easily fixed by tightening the fittings.  So off to Ulmer’s  I go.  Another stupid trip to town to get more heat tape.  When I got back Dad went under the house to wrap the heat tape and insulation around the pipe and I got in the shower.  I was going out with some new friends!

My blow dryer died back in October and haven’t had one since.  I ordered a new one from Amazon but have yet to receive it.  Even though we are Prime members there is no such thing as free 2 day shipping to Alaska.  Bummer!  So I had to use Dad’s old appliance blow dryer that he used to defrost refrigerators with.  It’s beat up and has no protective backing to it.  Which means no protection from the little fan inside.  Trying to dry my hair with that was slow and scary.  I got my hair stuck it in once, then I started smelling something burning.  I run down stairs to check the fire and it’s okay right where it’s supposed to be.  In the stove.  So, I wonder around the house trying to figure out what was burning, then I realized that the blow dryer but have sucked in some of my loose hair and incinerated it.  I’m glad it wasn’t still attached to my head.  This whole time I have a mirror propped up on the sink with one light bulb that has a yellow hue to it.  Which brings me to trying to put makeup on in a dark shadowy bathroom with this yellowish light.  Makeup went on extremely fast and was less dangerous than blow drying my hair.

Took the dogs out one more time before I left and off I go to town.  Driving in pitch black at 5:45 in the evening is interesting.  First, it’s dark no street lights and the road is black.  Second, the snow and ice make it difficult to drive on and when you pass another vehicle the road just disappears.  More dangerous than the blow dryer.   First stop Alibi for some yummy halibut fish tacos and a couple libations followed by two pints of water.  I was greeted with open arms by my new friends.  We were laughing most of the time.  It’s crazy how you can just meet people and fit right in instantly.  The tacos are excellent but I wish they were blacked and my friend Tammy knows I like them spicy!

Next we head to Kharacter’s which is a bar full of characters.  It was darkish, it had a pool table, and wasn’t very crowded due to the fact it was early.  LOL!  I met everyone at Alibi’s at 6pm.  We talked, laughed and a had a couple more drinks with about 4 or 5 glasses of water with it.  Then we all said out good byes and headed home.  It was a fun night.  I’m glad I went out.

Town Trip: November 21, 2017

Taco and I went to town together to see if we could find appropriate footwear for him.  Seems I can’t find one business that sells tiny snow proof boots for a Chihuahua. I had to find them online and order them.  They will get here in about 4 days.  But I bought what they had to keep his paws protected until his new ones come in the mail.  They are a little big and Taco has a little bit of a hard time walking in them.

While Taco and I were out it started to snow.  Funny it didn’t feel that cold, but it was a whopping 22 degrees.  From there we headed to Sav-U-More to pick up a few things and then to Safeway for yams.  From there we hit the Post Office and then Spenard’s for some wafer boards so we can finish the walls by the front door and in the bathroom.  We got that loaded up and headed home in the snow.

When we got back I dropped Taco off and headed to my neighbor’s house to discuss Thanksgiving.  Enjoyed the visit, went home and back to work.  We got the wall covered by the front door.  We also had some water problems again this time a little crack valve or something that was leaking pressure so the water wouldn’t flow.  We fixed it and have water again.

Still feeling blessed to have real seasoned firewood.

For dinner we ate Tamale casserole.