Social Distancing (quarantine): Day 2

I slept in late and hung out in bed until 9:30 this morning. I got to watch the new episode of Outlander. I have read all the books and seeing it on screen is awesome even though it’s a bit different from the book. It’s still great!

I had some coffee and then Dad and I headed to town for provisions. We needed to get some wood for projects around the house. My goals today were to go to the store, wash dogs, and deal with the excess in my room. Since, we got back a little late from town it looks like my goals will have to wait until tomorrow. I’m pooped!

Sometime this week I need to check on my bees and make sure they are still alive. I’ve attempted to over winter my bees and hope for the best. Let’s hope they are still alive. I am hoping I will have three hives this year instead of two. If the weather is nice and warm this summer, I will be rich in honey! Fireweed honey!!!!

My starts are doing so well! There will be lots of produce this year!

I went to visit my friends yesterday, they are also my neighbors. I really enjoyed it! I lent my egg incubator to Jamie. Her kids are already getting a bit bored and what a great science project!

I also visited my friends Tiana, Jen, Cory, and Ceri. Ceri, Tiana’s sister, just came back from Egypt and has quarantined herself in the tiny cabin at Tiana’s. We got to hang out and drink some Guinness in front of the cabin with the window slightly cracked so we could communicate. She opened it higher so we could get rid of the sun’s glare. It really was nice to see all my friends!

Tonight we are having meatball subs. Of course, I have to have gluten free buns, but the meatballs are in the crockpot with mushrooms and marinara. I can almost taste it! I am starving!

Ya’ll enjoy your times at home. If you are still working stay safe. I want to give a shout out to all my friends who are nurses, truckers (Shana the badass), and everyone else that works in a field that keeps us fed, sanitary and safe. Thank you!!!!!

Dad's Alaska

20 March 2020 Saturday

Cheers

Got up this morning to see that it was still snowing. It had, apparently been snowing all night. Summer came back from Dan’s house to inform me that they have yet to plow the main road, East Bay Road. With the hills, curves and potential to slide off a high bank into oblivion, we decided not to go to Homer today. We both needed some supplies for our projects of the day but the roads are dangerous. She was going to paint her bee hives and I was going to finish up the wall and replace all of the stair steps and risers. Not today.

The first day of Wuhan Kung Flu quarantine with Summer going to be home all day every day. Summer hasn’t been home everyday for most of two years. Her layoff, actually, comes at a propitious time. She needs to prep beehives, repot veggie plants and sort out some of her clothing for donation. She has shrunk in size due to her job of walking dogs several miles a day. She has some nice clothes that are way too big for her now and there is certainly some girl or woman in Homer who is in need of new clothing. I was going to donate some of my clothing but all I have left to donate are some tee shirts that would be more useful as rags than clothing. I donated 7-8 suits, a bunch of dress shirts, several pairs of shoes and a dozen or more pairs of pants last year. I’ve got one suit, one dress shirt and one tie left to be buried in. Beyond that I’m down to 5-6 pairs of jeans and a couple of pairs of khaki pants. If I’m not likely to wear it, I don’t own it any more. Back to the original thought. I’m hoping all of this quarantine togetherness doesn’t break into hostility.

Resting after a long day leveling the house.
A snowy sunset

The dogs keep going crazy because the moose keep wandering across the yard. It goes without saying that, if our food becomes scarce because of this Wuhan Kung Flu idiocy, moose will be on the menu.

The next door neighbor, whose family built our house back in the 80s, spent a good portion of the day in the snow shoveling snow off the gravel road that is our street. It was snowing enough to cause him to need to re-shovel that which he shoveled an hour or so previously. It seemed to me to have been an effort in futility. Indeed, he must have some sort of unnatural fixation on the road. I guess it comes under the heading of ‘whatever winds your watch’. Weird.

Because I had nothing to work with, due to our inability to get to Homer, I have sat on my butt most all morning The only real chore was picking up the debris from the new upstairs bathroom and either stacking it with the other materials or trashing it. Mostly trashing it.

Later in the afternoon, I decided to finish the electric by pulling the wire into the new wall and a new light for the stairwell. It took me a couple of hours and it made a big mess. Wood chips and sheetrock dust from drilling holes for wire. It made me tired. I hate cleaning up but it had to be done. The wiring is done and all we lack is finishing. Finishing means installing the light fixture and a switch box at the top of the stairs that I don’t have. Tomorrow, I will go to town and get the stuff I need to finish.

It stopped snowing, the sun came out and now we have slush. The break up continues and my Spring Fever is at max.

Social Distancing (quarantine): Day 1

Friday, March 20, 2020 was my last day at work. My boss decided it was best since everything else was closing down. As a dog walker, I go into people’s homes to pick up their dog. This is potentially dangerous to everyone because we could spread this virus across our little town. So, we are doing our part to keep people safe.

I have lots to do around the house and will probably never get bored. I was reading an article about how Gen X’ers are probably the best for this whole quarantine thing we are going through. I have to admit. I am a Gen X’er and looking back at my childhood, I would have to agree with some of these articles. We were the latchkey children that came home from school and found our own snacks and did our homework alone. We listened to the radio waiting for our favorite songs to come on so we could record it and create awesome mixed tapes. I played out in the woods with friends and came home when the street light came on. I hung out in my room entertaining myself with games, music, and my imagination. There was no internet and we didn’t have cable. We also played Oregon Trail and learned from it. LOL! We are the generation of social distance. We got this! #socialdistancing #GenX It was like we’ve been training for this all our lives!

It’s snowing again! Just when you thought it was break up you get another 3-4 inches of snow. That’s okay. Soon spring will be here. I’m gonna have to upgrade some of my starts to bigger pots. This is a good thing. The longer we have to keep them growing and put some growth on them, the better they will produce and survive.

My herbs and tomatoes are ready for the next size up on pots. You slowly move them into bigger pots as they grow. It’s really fun and messy since I have to do it I’m my living room. So, that’s one job that will take pretty much all day. I have all my onion starts and begonias as well.

I now have the time to get my new bathroom finished. I’ve got a lot to do, but it will be fun! Dan is almost done with my beautiful vanity. He said he needs to do a little light sanding and then I can prime and paint it. I am so impressed and grateful. The vanity will install onto the corner of the wall so it only needs one leg. It’s going to have solid surface on top that will match the shower stall.

This will also give me time to sort out everything that I don’t want anymore. Out with the old and no more stuff!

Maybe I will have time to work on my quilt as well. I don’t think I will go stir crazy but I’m afraid by day five I will be drinking out of a wine bottle! HAHAHA! Maybe not.

I hope everyone stays safe and healthy and don’t get bored!

So long and keep calm!

Dad's Alaska

19 March 2020 Friday

Me in Oct-Nov 2017 after I found out that haircuts were $25, we hadn’t unpacked and as yet did not have running water.

Was so wiped by the 600 mile trip on Thursday that I got but very little done. Still no sign of the Wuhan Kung Flu. After 3-4 stops in and near Anchorage, where they have cases of the Wuhan Kung Flu, I figured I might be a candidate for bringing the virus back to Homer and Fritz Creek. I was careful as I did wash my hands and use a paper towels to operate the doors. No symptoms, as yet. Probably a little early to have symptoms as the incubation period is 10-14 days or something like that. I’m not too worried about it. I haven’t even had a cold in the last 20 or so years and I think I’ve taken the flu shot maybe 2-3 times. I did wake up this morning with aching shoulder and finger joints. At 75, I kinda expect to be hurting some in the mornings. When I get up and get moving the pain seems to subside. Arthritis in my fingers is the big problem. Nothing twelve cups of coffee can’t fix.

Last Wednesday, I went to the Homer City Hall to complain and warn the moronic mayor and even more moronic city council about these reusable grocery bags. They banned “single use” plastic bags a few weeks ago. “Single Use” are their words, however, those of us out in the real world find many uses for those bags. Anyway, I wanted to explain to these idiots that the average reusable bag brought from home had more bacteria/virus infestation than the average public toilet. They’re just ‘begging’ for some one to bring in a bag with the Wuhan Kung Flu virus on it. Can’t you just see it? They put it on the counter where the slide you groceries down to be bagged, a nice young person handles your bag while filling it with your items and then they move on to contaminate 50-60 other bags and, perhaps, their fellow employees. Banning these plastic bags made little sense in the beginning and no sense now.

The new wall alongside the stairs was my project for today. I finished it by about 1:00 and ate Summer’s leftover Chinese takeout from yesterday. This made me very sleepy and I took an hour nap. It reminded me of my Grandfather. Everyday at noon, while working in the cotton fields, we’d break for lunch and he’d lie down under the cotton trailer on his cotton picking sack and take a nap. This was a long time ago. I lived with them from age 6 until almost 13 and we worked in the fields all through spring, late summer and into the Fall every year. Spring and early summer were the times for picking strawberries and chopping (thinning) cotton. It had to be thinned to allow the plants to grow tall and produce the most cotton bolls. Midsummer was ‘Summer School’. You went to school in the summer so that you could stay out of school in September, October and part of November to pick cotton. I have always wondered how I skipped a grade in school. I didn’t get to start until I was near 7 and plus 12 should have made me 19 in my senior year but I was only 18 in my senior year of high school. Some where I skipped a year. One of life’s small mysteries, I suppose.

The wall framing was finished when I realized that I was going to have to move it away from the stairs by about an inch and a quarter. An inch and a quarter to accommodate 1/2″ sheet rock and a 3/4″ side plate on the stairs. Since it isn’t load bearing there are only 6 screws holding it in place so I can pry it away from the steps install the side plate and the sheetrock and tap it back into place. Bad planning but a minor difficulty, at worst. I got on with the electrical part of the job. I needed an outlet for the TV that will hang on the wall, a switch for the light that I’m installing in the stairwell. At present the only way to light the stairs is climb up and turn on the hall light at the top of the stairs. That switch is not located near the stairwell but just outside Summer’s bedroom. Currently, you must climb the stairs in the dark and then search for the light switch on the wall, also, in the dark. A serious accident waiting to happen.

Summer got laid off from her job today. Seems that people were discontinuing their external dog care as they, themselves, were losing their jobs or deciding to hibernate until the Wuhan Kung Flu season has passed. I know I’ve probably already said this numerous times BUT all of this is the dumbest damned thing to which I have ever been witness. Close to 13,000 deaths this year from the current version of the common Flu and a few hundred deaths from the Wuhan Kung Flu. There has been no news at all about the 13,000 people in America who have died but nothing except wall to wall panic news about the few hundred who have died here in the US of A. As I have stated previously, you have a better chance of being killed by a WWII German NAZI driving a Panzer tank than dying from the Wuhan Kung Flu.

We seemed to be in mid ‘Break Up’ until tonight. It has begun snowing with a vengeance, Not big wet flakes that you know are going to melt on touch down but tiny little flakes that tend to stick. The weather forecast is for it to continue to snow through Saturday and clear off Sunday. Temps will go back to the mid 30s starting Sunday and through most of next week. It is ‘Break Up’ but it seems to be a more gradual process that last year. Last year was !!!!!BREAK UP!!!!! It was all over in about 10-12 days. Not so much this year. It looks like we might have snow on the ground right up to mid-April.

Well, I’ve had dinner. It was ‘make your own dinner’ night. I guess it’s time for bed, I’ve had a few vodkas, fed Miss Suzy and watched a bit of TV. Ta Ta.

A typical Alaskan warning sign

Dad’s Alaska

18 March 2020 Woden’s Day

Today was another hundreds of gallons of snow melt and rain water running under the house day. Did not get a great deal done. Went into town in the vain effort to contract the Wuhan flu.. Didn’t get the Wuhan Flu but I did get some 2x4s, some deck screws and some electric boxes to install in the new wall. The new wall is to cover one side of the stairs going to the second floor. Summer wanted another better place for the TV and to cover the steps so that Gandie the Elder doesn’t fall off the steps and kill himself. He’d already taken one fall that didn’t hurt him but had he been two steps higher it might have been a serious problem. Another little wall is going to allow us to move the refrigerator to a better place in the kitchen. Got the 1/4″ copper tubing for the ice maker water supply. Seems the more I do the more I need to do.

19 March 2020 Thor’s Day

Today was a road trip. 293 miles to a place 20 miles into the country and then 3.5 miles down a dirt road covered in soft, mushy, slippery snow. I drove that 3.5 miles at about 5 miles per hour. My mission was to pick up Summer’s two beehives and some ancillary materials. Having procured the bee stuff, I drove another 293 miles back to Fritz Creek. This all took 13 hours of road time. The picking up time was less than ten minutes. The rest of the time was driving. I’m tired and through for the day.

The beginning of the Sterling Highway in the Chugach Mountains
Chugach Mountains again
Seward Highway at Turnagain Arm south of Anchorage

Dad’s Alaska

16 March 2020 Monday

An Alaskan summer sunrise.
No food in corona virus epidemic-No Problem

Today we got water. After the truck left, I checked for leaks other than the one I had already repaired, Found one small one that took only a few minutes to repair. Still the water did not flow. Got out my jet heater to thaw out what I thought were frozen pipes. The jet heater was, of course, out of fuel. I wandered around looking for the diesel jerry can and failed to find it. That was when I decided that re-leveling the front of the house. I mentioned yesterday that it had sunk about and 1 1/2 inches along the 40 foot front. Took a lot of grunting, groaning and cussing to get the jacks in place and lift the house.

Summer called. She suggested that I get the Range Rover and ‘The Beast’ topped off with fuel. I took all of our empty gas cans and filled them, as well. This Corona virus crap has people panic buying fuel, in addition to food and toilet tissue. Panic buying causes artificial shortages. I have seen it many times prior to a hurricane in LA (Lower Alabama) and Florida. After going through Hurricane Frederick in 1979 with nothing in the way of preparation, I will never do that again. Trying to insure 4year old, 1 year old and wife eat regularly was more than just a little bit stressful. No water, no electricity, my business destroyed and, more importantly, no air conditioning in Mobile, Alabama was an abbreviated glimpse of hell.

Got back to the house and filled the jet heater with diesel and started it to defrost the pipes in the water house. It ran for over an hour and still no water. This led me to think that the line into the house might be frozen again. Sure enough, the power was off to the heat tapes for the water line into the house. Further investigation found that the GFI receptacle had failed and there was no power to the heat tape. I ran an extension cord and in about an hour we had running water.

Today Summer went to the two grocery stores only to find lines near an hour long. People with buggies full of groceries that they’ll be eating months from now, if ever. This entire panic is all Mainstream Media driven. It is shames me as an American that so many of my fellow citizens are so easily panicked. My father, a WWII veteran and a Great Depression survivor, would be absolutely appalled. He was a man with a sixth grade education that could talk with you about virtually any subject you might desire. He read hundreds of books and had a very low opinion of the college educated with book smarts and no common sense. He called them “educated idiots’. And today those are the people that are driving Americans crazy and creating this silly panic.

After all of the fuel purchasing and water folderol, I went back to my leveling project. I took some doing but I got the place leveled again. While I was leveling the front I noticed that there was a beam further back under the house that was not down on the two pilings that were intended to support it. I crawled under the house with a couple of jacks and some shims. It took about an hour all told. By the time I finished I was completely tuckered out.

Got inside, made a vodka drink and decided to wash my filthy clothing. Days of crawling under the house and sloshing through the mud had cause my outer clothing to be covered in mud, dirt and who knows what. I had been taking it off at the end of the day, shaking it out and then putting it back on the next day. It was gross. Now that we had water the possibilities were endless. I ran the dishwasher and hand washed some bowls and pans that really don’t fit in our new 18″ dishwasher. Life is good when you having running water.

That’s it for me today. It’s 11:00 PM and I’ve had a shower, dinner and a couple of vodka drinks. Time for bed.

Dad’s Alaska

14 March 2020 Saturn’s Day

Here’s to ya.

Today was a day of taking care of neglected chores and repairing the damned water situation. Yesterday we discovered that we’d lost all of our water, AGAIN. I cannot wait until we get our new 2500 gallon tank installed in the new basement. In the basement we can have hard piping and protection from heat tape failures and burst pipes. I am so sick of this half-assed water situation that I am very near running down the road screaming and pulling what’s left of my hair out. Repairing the water leak problem is plumbing. Plumbing requires, at least, three trips to the hardware store. Much to my amazement this project required only two trips to Kachemak Gear Shed for the necessary parts. While I was there I tried to buy a five gallon bucket of Corona Virus. The young fellow told me that they were out but later he was going to try to drink five gallons or a couple of six packs (which ever came first) of Corona Light. The chores consisted of picking up and putting away tools that had been used in the house leveling project., straightening up the tool shed, picking up trash, loose ends and other detritus. Level checks at the end of the day indicated that the house was dead level along the length and width. Success!!!!!

I still don’t have Corona Virus and only about 3000 people in the U.S. are known to have contracted this over hyped Main Stream Media disease. Only 30 have died and every one of them was already seriously ill from some other more serious disease. Nobody knows how many people had the stuff got well and went on about their lives. Common sense would indicate that for most people the usual symptoms were so mild, that most people would assume they had a cold or a mild case of the flu. 14000+ Americans have died from the flu this season. So far 30 have died from COVID-19. Where’s the panic, folks. AND stop hoarding toilet paper. It sure as hell won’t keep you from getting the flu or COVID-19.

15 March 2020 Sunday

Should have known that finishing up on Friday the 13th would not bode well for the leveling project. Got up this morning and whilst drinking my half gallon of coffee, I looked at the ceiling. I was horrified. Just eye ball alone told me that the house was no longer level. The house had, somehow, sunk an inch and a half across the forty feet of the front. To say I was disappointed would be a serious understatement. Dejected, morose, sad, gloomy, glum and more than a little bit angry would be more precise description of my feelings. Apparently, the jacking up of the house somehow allowed the pilings to be lifted. When the weight was put back on them they sank back to their rightful place. I would have gone back under the house today except that we have no water for me to wash the dirt and mud off at the end of the day. Tomorrow we will have water and I’ll be back at the leveling project. I am truly sick of this.

Today with no water to spare for showers, I spent the day cleaning house. I don’t know why it seems that if I don’t sweep daily there is about ten pounds of fine sand and dirt on the floor. I moved all of the furniture, dog beds and everything else in order to sweep the place clean. Cleaned the kitchen as best I could with only the little bit of water I could spare. With the dishwasher locked and loaded, I turned my attention to sheetrock and lumber lying on the floor and in the path of walking. I stacked all of that crap against the wall and swept up that unswept part of the floor.

There was a mess made in the downstairs bath that I cleaned up. While trying to install the new beam under the old sway backed beam beneath the bath, I found a mysterious wire. I had to tear out some sheetrock in order to trace the wire. This was a Friday the 13th discovery. I found that it was feeding the receptacle that ran the washing machine. However, it was way more complicated than that. I turned off the breaker for the washer but the red light on my ammeter stayed on. In order to find out which breaker to which the wire attached, I flipped each individual breaker off. The current detection device that is my ammeter has a red light on it indicating a hot wire. There is no need for current flow for it to detect voltage. As a turned each breaker off and then back on the light stayed on. I’ve been doing electrical work for 40 years. I held Master licenses in two states and I have never seen a circuit that would not de-energize when the breaker was turned off. This one would not turn off no matter which breaker you turned off. I knew it was routed to the main breaker panel. Therefore, it must turn off when the proper breaker was turned off. I put the main panel back into the wall (it was lying on the floor of the bathroom) and wired up every existing circuit myself when we bought the house. I knew that nothing was jumped or improperly wire in the panel. However, just to be sure I took the cover off and inspected every connection. I was mystified. With all of the breakers off. I turned them on one at the time. I worked from the right bottom to the top on the right. The top right breaker turned on the red light on my meter. The notes on the panel indicated (in my handwriting) that the 5th breaker from the bottom on the left was the washing machine. I turned off the top right and turned on the breaker that was indicated as the washer. The red light came on. I disassembled the receptacle box for the washer and found that the mystery wire and another wire were both feeding the same receptacle. Some idiot had connected two hot wires to the same receptacle. That they were accidentally on the same leg of the 240 volt service is the only reason there wasn’t an electrical fire. The potential for killing someone (probably me) was very large. You flip the indicated breaker and start a repair or replacement (wrong color receptacle) and you get a big old handful of 110v at several hundred amps and before the breaker trips you are dead. I have truly been scared to death that this place will burn down before I can get it rewired. Who knows what other half-assed crap has been done. I’ve found a lot of it but this incident just proves that there is very likely at lot more. In Alaska, outside of the cities, there is no such thing as a building codes or inspection procedures. People just build crap anyway they want and which ever way that happens to be convenient. Don’t have the right material. No problem. Just use whatever you have. A prime example of that is that there are four light fixture boxes in various parts of the ceiling in the main part of the downstairs of this house. All four are on one switch by the back door. I had to put pull chain switches on all of he fixtures so that they weren’t all on at the same time. We will be pulling down the rest of the sheetrock to rewire as soon as I get this disaster re-leveled.

Miss Suzy in the Hood….ie

I guess I’ve complained enough for one day. Goodnight. Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite.

Dad’s Alaska

14 March 2020 Saturday a recounting of 13 March

Miss Suzy hanging out

Here in Fritz Creek and down in Homer the panic buying continues. Summer read to me a post from someone calling them self Coronaholi-O. Makes me happy that there are, at least, some people not taking this too serious. The level of stupid in this is monumental. There have already been more deaths in the U.S. from the flu than people who have have been reported, actually, contracted COV-19 in the U.S. This is a media generated panic. You have a better chance of getting run over by a German NAZI in a WWII tank than dying from COV-19. There is a current theory that COV-19 has been around for months in the U.S. Months that people have been made ill and it have been treated as a cold or the flu or they didn’t get sick at all. The point being that it is likely millions of people around the world who have already survived COV-19. If you are healthy you have next to nothing to worry about. So far the damned thing has only killed older people (Average age 80) with serious underlying illnesses. In other words, it kills people who already have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. The only killing old, infirm people makes me think that the ChiComs may have designed this virus to eliminate some of their millions of older non-productive people. A kinder, gentler and less bad press way to cut down on the number of mouths they have to feed, house and for which they must provide medical care. Pointedly, we are only hearing about how many people have died and not a word about how many people survived this potentially manmade scourge. As I stated earlier this is just the Maim Stream Media hyping the next “WE’RE ALLL GONNA DIE” stupidity. One good thing has come from this latest hysteria. Nobody is talking about Gore-bal Warming.

Started working outside at about 10:30 AM. About noon I came inside and ate leftover chicken wings so that I could take my meds. Back to the mud pit for more home renovation fun. Finished cutting the pilings under the floor to get the all the same height and to accommodate the new 6×6 beam that I intended to install. Mission accomplished at about 1:30 PM. That is where the real fun began. I wrestled that big rascal up and onto the jacking platform, a 4’x12’x14′ that I put in place last week I was slipping and sliding, but no “peeping and hiding” all over the place trying to lift the thing almost 5 feet and make it stay on the platform. If there were two men lifting it would have been over in minutes. BTW Summer could not even pick up one end of it. This wresting match lasted for close to an hour. I would get one end about where it needed to be and then pickup the other end to lift it. That would cause it all to slip back into the mud. Each of these events left me on my knees in the mud. Knowing that doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, I decided to try something different. I lifted the miscreant end up and onto the platform, took a short piece of rope and tied it to one of the pilings. When I lifted the other end it stayed on the platform and with a bit of slippy sliding in the mud, I got the other end onto the platform. YEA!!!!! That only took just over an hour from start to finish. Had I been about half smart, I’d have tied the thing on the first time. Like my Grandmother used to say “Live and learn then die and forget it all”.

The next project was to measure the length to fit under the house and between the two jacks holding the house up high enough to get the beam in, Retrieved my electric chainsaw, scrambled around to find an extension cord and a place to plug it in. I was all set to cut the beam to length. Started to cut the beam and found that the chain was so dull that hot butter would have been a challenge for it. This led to hauling it back to the shed and picking up the gas chainsaw. Of course, it had no fuel or chain oil which triggered another time consuming search for chain oil. At last fueled and oiled I tried to start it, Twenty or thirty or who knows how many pulls on the start rope later, I gave up. I guess I’ll have to buy another $139 chainsaw before next fall. I stomped around cussing for a few minutes before I saw the case for my Porter Cable Reciprocating Saw. In the case with the the saw were several brand new 9″ blades. This saw is far better to be used as a means to destroy stuff than to attempt to cut a straight line. New blade installed and a power cord already pulled, I was able to lop the end off the beam pretty quickly. To be sure it wasn’t a straight cut but it was close enough . Anyway, another mostly unproductive hour gone.

By the time the beam was wrested onto the platform and cut to length it was about 3:30. I am by that time, tired, frustrated and ready to call it a day. I could not quit. I had promised myself that the beam would be installed by the end of the day. There was the problem of raising the beam up the last two feet to put it on top of the pilings. It was a lead pipe cinch that I wasn’t going to be able to lift the entire length and shove it under the existing beam. This led to another scavenger hunt. I needed a whole bunch of wood blocks. After scrounging up what I viewed as way too many blocks ( it was a half dozen too few), I pried one end of the beam up and put a block under it. It was “Wash, Rinse, Repeat” (you probably need to be over 60 to get the joke) for quite a while. I was using a 2x6x8 as a lever to raise each end of the beam and put in another block. After what seemed to be nearly forever, I had the bottom of the beam even with the tops of the pilings. I was so happy. Prematurely happy as it turned out, but happy nevertheless.

The new beam would go in at either end but would not slide into place in the middle. I tried driving it into place with an 8 pound sledge hammer. Could beat one end onto the top of a piling and then the other end would slide out. This was a nightmarish repeat of the platform fiasco of a couple of hours earlier. This time I had a solution and screwed several short pieces of wood onto the piling at one end and the put another vertical to hold the end in place. With one end secure I was certain that I could drive the new beam right on under the old beam very quickly. WRONG!! That damned beam. No, not the one I was installing. I was cursing the existing beam. It had a belly on it like an old, grass fed plow horse. The belly on the old beam was just over a half inch. So while both ends were clear to slide into place the middle was jammed down tight. This raised the question, “What do I do now”. I had a hydraulic jack at one end of the old beam and a screw jack at the other and no way to jack it up in the middle because it would be in the way of installing the new beam. I thought “Why not just jack it up until the belly clears”. “Great idea” I replied to myself. I went to the screw jack and the weight on it was so great that I could barely get a half turn before I wasn’t able to make the wrench move. I went to the hydraulic jack and jacked it up until the complaining noise of groaning, creaking, cracking timber started to scare me. The other day, when I was jacking up part of the main house to put in the leveling boards I had, quite literally, exploded several concrete blocks as they failed under the weight. I did that twice before I was able to put in the levelers. Now I was jacking down on a 4x12x14, that had each end on the frozen dirt and a few concrete blocks stacked near its’ middle to attempt to raise 10 feet of the house another 3/4 of an inch. This seemed to be a good time to go get some water and think about this problem. I couldn’t make to screw jack go any further up, the hydraulic jack was at the max in more ways than one and the fat bellied beam wasn’t allowing me to hammer the new beam into place.

While pondering the problem, I let the dogs out, drank some water and ate a couple of peanut butter cookies from Walmart. They were terrible. I won’t be buying that brand again. After 10 minutes of munching lousy cookies, I remembered that the jack at the other end of the exploding concrete block episode had lifted the trapper’s cabin portion of the house a good bit. The screw jack wouldn’t lift it but a 40 ton hydraulic jack would. Again, I found myself digging in the frozen ground. I needed a level a spot for the hydraulic jack . Another search for a stout plank to put under the jack ensued. A half hour later, I’m jacking the house up off it’s leveling boards. There was much groaning, creaking and cracking and when the screw jack fell out, I very nearly had a heart attack. For a split second I thought that I was either dead or on my way to the emergency room. The jack fell out and no harm came to me or the house and as Martha says “That’s a good thing”. With all of the groaning, creaking, cracking and jack falling action, the belly of the beast beam was still not allowing the new beam to slide into place. I hammered the living hell out of it but it was ‘Close but no cigar’. The hydraulic jack was at it’s max. No more lifting from that end. The jack on the other end was, also, fully extended. I decided to place some of the old shim blocks on top of the piling next to the jack at the other end and let it down. Once it was released I collapsed it completely and put another 2×6 piece of board across the bridge to the 4×12 and add another shim block. After the prep, I started jacking the scary thing up again. All the while, as the groaning, creaking and cracking started in earnest, I was trying to calculate where the jack, the piece of iron on top of the jack and the splinters would go. It was obvious that there was no really safe place to stand to operate the jack. I stopped jacking when I began to really, really scare myself. The time was now about 6:30 PM. Summer had come home and then gone to Dan’s for supper. Supper is the evening meal and dinner is what town folk refer to as “lunch”. You have ‘Sunday dinner’ in the early afternoon not at night. Never mind.

The beam is in place the house is jacked up as far as I dare and I’m hoping that it is enough. I retrieved the 8 pound persuader from the mud where I had inadvertently knocked it down in my effort to get the second hydraulic jack installed. Wiped off the handle and started beating the side of the new beam. Lo and behold it moved. Twenty or so whacks later it slid into place. I leaned up with my rubbery arms hanging at my side and laughed, After a few minutes, I carefully let the jacks down and the beam was fully installed. That was at 7:00 PM, it only took 8 1/2 hours to do a 2 hour job for two people.

As an insult added to injury, unbeknownst to me, a plastic fitting that had the pressure gauge in it, had failed. It was frozen when we replaced the pump last week. and in this warmer weather it thawed and we lost 300+ gallons of water. This meant that I had no water to shower the mud and dirt off myself. Thankfully, Dan let Summer and I use his shower. I was so filthy that I’d have slept on the floor to avoid contaminating my bed. Aside from much cussing there was nothing I could do. Tomorrow I will deal with the water leak and Monday they will deliver water again. Life goes on in spite of the minor set backs.

Are we there yet, Spring?

Weather is as unpredictable as usual. It warmed up and then it snowed, then it warmed up, and then it snowed and now its pretty chilly and sunny. The weather this week should be sunny and cool (highs in the 20s). Yesterday was warm around 33 or 34. It started to get really melty and difficult to drive in. I’m sure you read my Dad’s blog about his encounter with the water truck and him getting two vehicles stuck while I was at work.

Speaking of work. It was a challenge to walk through sticky, melty and mushy snow. The dogs really didn’t care, but I was walking around like I was a staggering drunk. The roads were melting and it was really really slushy in places. You kind of slide around and look like you are drunk driving. Then, the road starts crumbling into deep pothole filled with melting water. So now, you are dodging deep potholes and yet again you look like your driving drunk. If you can’t dodge them and you have to hit them you are only make the potholes worse. Good Times!

The ducks think it to be spring. They have started to lay eggs again and I have found myself with a surplus of duck eggs. I have made gathering eggs a game. Due to our below freezing temps in the morning, you have to get to the eggs before they freeze and then crack. Then they are no good.

This was Sunday morning and I haven’t gather eggs yet and I was just thinking to myself that the geese should start laying as well. So, after coffee and such I went out to the greenhouse to check out the situation. Low and behold, the waterfowl finally made a nest! The ducks just lay their eggs where ever they are standing up to this point. So, someone got organized and the rest have followed. I walk up to the nest of hay and start digging around. I find 3 duck eggs and guess what?!?!

You guessed it! Two goose eggs! YAY! I’m so excited! I’ve never had geese before and let alone goose eggs! I think I’m gonna try to make a custard out of them in celebration. I took some pics so you can see the difference in the size duck versus goose. Now, these geese are first time egg layers so the eggs should get bigger the more they lay.

Today, I was in the store. There is no Toilet paper in the stores at all! It feels like this mass hysteria and people are prematurely panicking. Today at the local supermarket the paper toilet/paper towel isle looks like this.

All that’s left is crappy commercial TP that will eventually be bought out when the entire U.S. runs out of TP and we will no longer get shipments into our little town. It’s ridiculous. I’m not going to panic until I absolutely have too.

I searched Amazon for my favorite TP only to find the price gouging has started. So freaking ridiculous!

Worse case scenario when the toilet paper runs out, we can always install one of these!

Thursday was a pretty good day. The snow is slowly melting and hopefully break up is near. My geese are trying to destroy my car nibble by nibble. They have chewed the plug off to my block heater on Zippy and have proceeded to do damage to my front bumper by the fog light. They must be fenced in ASAP! Come on break up we need you!

Thursday night we had such an amazing sunset!

Friday was such a lovely day to work (walk dogs or more like hike). The sun was out it felt warm due to the sun reflecting off the snow. It has been so warm that I have started shedding my major winter gear for more lighter stuff. It went from Arctic Muck boots, to Keen winter boots and gaiters. Well, the gaiters were getting too hot and not letting my sweat leave my legs. I had to come up with a better solution. I needed something that would work like gaiters but would allow my legs to dry quickly.

It’s been getting so warm on my hikes that wearing fleece lined Carhartt pants were too warm. So, I have gone to Carhartt leggings which work just fine as long as I don’t have those sweaty gaiters on. Low and behold! LEG WARMERS!

Yes, people! I’m bringing them back as the number one winter accessory you need for post holing through snow! My legs stay dry and the synthetic material keeps the snow on the outside. I recommend leg warmers for those knee deep snow days. Besides, they’re cute! I’m pretty sure Dan thinks so too!

We found another leak in our water system, AGAIN! We found the leak, but have to survive without water for the rest of the weekend. Thanks Dan for the use of your shower, yet again! Monday we will have a water filled again. It really sucks, what a waste of money when the water just drains out all over the snow and under the water house. My duty for today is to shovel snow into the Homer buckets and melt it on the wood stove. Something to last us all weekend. It’s already Saturday so it shouldn’t be too much trouble to go one more day without.

Then, it’s time to start some spring cleaning. I really need to stop hoarding clothes and such that I’m never going to wear. I also wish I had time to try to finish my quilt. Maybe I will finish it by next winter. LOL

Okay. It’s time to be somebody and do some work around the stead! I leave you with cute pics of my dogs. So long readers and stay disinfected!

Dad’s Alaska

Kachemak Bay Sunset
Bob Steele/iPhone 10

12 March, 2020 Thor’s Day

End of the day with a solid foot rest and a vodka.

Today started, as usual, with 48 ounces of coffee, cleaning up the kitchen and emptying the dishwasher. The old 24″ Samsung dishwasher (by old I mean 2 years old) has been replaced with an 18″ NoName dishwasher. The Samsung didn’t wash very well and lasted only two years. You might take that into consideration when you have to replace your dishwasher. I thought Samsung was a near top of the line machine. Boy, did I think wrong. The main control board failed and the replacement at wholesale was almost two hundred dollars. New dishwasher was $329.00 and it is a better fit for our kitchen. I did not follow my own advice that I’ve given to my appliance repair customers for years. “Go buy the cheapest dishwasher you can find of any brand you like. The cheapest one and the most expensive one of the same line have exactly the same motor and pump. The cheap one will wash just as well as the most expensive”. I bought the more expensive dishwasher and all I can say is “I can’t help it that I was born stupid”.

After finish my morning chores which primarily consists of drinking coffee, I set off for Homer to meet a man about a tank. A very large tank. That man, Kerry Plant of Spenard’s Building Supply, was closing out 2500 gallon water tanks for a really good price. He, also had a couple of windows that he wanted to sell. We need windows. Very few of the existing windows on this house open. You might not think so but it gets very warm inside during the summer. A cross breeze is really good for sleeping at night and not sweat while sitting down to dinner or watching TV. Anyway, I bought the tank and hightailed it for home. I will pick up the tank in a week or two. No hurry.

Had a bowl of tomato soup for lunch and got dressed to enter the mud pit. There in the mud pit I was able ( with much aggravation and difficulty) to jack up and put in the doubled 2x6x8′ shims to finish leveling the main part of the house. I moved on to the trapper’s cabin portion of the house and after about 3 hours managed to get it level plus a little bit. The plus a little bit was to give me room to install the 6x6x10′ beam under the near useless, laid on the weak side beam supporting the outside wall. It is what you might call Alaskan construction. Why the damned thing hasn’t fallen down is a mystery to me. The only thing holding that corner of the house must undoubtedly have been someone’s imagination. We had a 7 point something earthquake two years ago and a near 5.0 last year and the darned thing stood up. I am amazed now that I’ve surveyed the lack of support for myself. Anyway, it is as close to level as I am able to get it. Tomorrow I will install the new beam and lower the house down on it. This will then allow me to lower the interior part of the house down on the newly reinforced pilings and it should be near dead level. Completing this will bring me to leveling the last room, my bedroom. This should, fingers crossed, be an easy project involving only jacking up the outside wall and removing existing shims.

Days are lasting longer, but I’m not. I only got in about 8 hours today. Daylight is lasting until near 8:00 PM and I’m out of gas by 6:30. I vaguely remember being able to work 40+ hours at a whack when I worked off shore so many years ago. That was over 35 years ago. My how time flies. Now I consider myself lucky, if I get in 40 hours in a five day week. In my sixties I could work a half dozen thirty years olds to death trying to keep up with me. Ten years has certainly made a difference in my ability to work for long periods. In case some of you are still under 50 let me give you a simple fact…The Golden Years SUCK. You can’t walk as fast, think as fast, hit as hard, work as long or get too far from a bathroom. In addition, you will find yourself going from one room to another and arrive with no idea why you are where you are. You know you left the other room for a solid reason and have no idea what that reason was. I’m chalking this up to having too many things on my mind. That excuse makes me feel better. You’ll be taking 10 kinds of meds and 47 vitamins and minerals because your doctor says that you need them. Worse than that you will on a regular basis forget to take the darned things. Welcome to the last days of your life.

Well, I’m about to have a passel of chicken wings for dinner. Summer does and excellent job of preparing them and I can eat a dozen or so. Nighty night.