Well, Damn! How long has it been?

I have a funny story for you.

So last night I decided to let my Karelian Bear dog (Cookie) for the first time in a longtime.  Big mistake.

I let her out with Taco and Gandie.  She then proceeded to run off with Taco trailing behind her all the way to the road.  (Forehead Slap!)

I got them back onto the property and was able to scold Taco and he ran back to the house and went inside.  Cookie on the other hand found the pond with my ducks swimming all zen like.  She was chasing them around the pond while I was screaming at her.  To make it clear, this was about 10 pm and I was in my jammies.

So, this makes a funny picture.  Me, in my jammies, yelling and chasing a dog chasing ducks.

Now, at this point, I was prepared to tackle Cookie and land in the cold dirty pond water.  There were a couple of times that this was going to happen.  She ran into the brush next to the pond where one of my ducks were hiding and went in after her.  Of course she was already out and I am falling on my face in the mud which is in the brush.  I’m in my jammies mind you.

I get up fall yet again.  At this point, I am so pissed that I could barely keep all the bad words inside my mouth.  Cookie finally figuring out that this wasn’t a game as I am chasing her all over the muddy ass property stopped and let me catch her.  I grabbed her by the tough of her neck and told her what I thought of her at that moment and told her that she was being bad.

I’m muddy in my jammies and she is muddy and wet from the pond.  Which got me wet when I caught her.  I led her back to the house by the collar and went inside.  I must have sent dad a psychic thought, because inside was a nice warm fire.  I made and drink and told dad the whole story.  We laughed about it in the kitchen while I warmed up.

I went upstairs and changed into clean jammies and got into bed.  It seems Cookie decided to seek revenge and rolled her muddy wet body all over my comforter.  So, it too was wet and muddy.

I changed my covers and went to bed.  All the chickens were in for the night and the ducks slept knowing they dodged a serious bullet.

So, this was my adventure last night.  I hope it brings you as many laughs as it brought me and dad.

 

Leaving on a Jet Plane

The last few days we have been preparing for the trip back to Florida to close up some loose ends. Dad and I have been working the whole week to prepare the house before leaving.  Luckily, My wonderful neighbors are checking on my place daily.

I decided to fly back on the red eye in Anchorage and Dad wanted to drive back with Gandie and Suzy.  Me and Taco flew Alaska Airlines.  Which by the way, is the best airlines I have ever flown.  If you are going to fly in strong winds, snow, ice, etc. they are your airlines.  I sprung a little extra for a premium seat which means I get more leg room and I get to board the plane sooner, right after first class and military.  Not only do I get those perks, but I get free alcohol to drink!  For someone who hasn’t flown on an airplane since 2005 and extremely nervous a vodka ginger or two made a real difference from starting off thinking we are all going to die a cold, snowy, fiery death to calm laughing and enjoying my airbus ride with a nice older gentlemen that kept my mind off of dying.  Inflight snack was a cute little box of organic goodies that consists of a fig cake, gummy bears, almonds.  Of course, I swallowed it down with a few vodka gingers.  I was feeling good about flying at this point.  This entire time Taco was sitting in my lap sleeping.  He was very nervous and wouldn’t drink water or eat a treat but stayed calm the whole way.

When we landed in Portland, Taco walked off the plane like a pro.  We walked to the dog restroom to see if he needed to go.  No go.  He smelled all the dogs that peed there and he just couldn’t do it.  I felt so bad for him.  So, we walked to our next gate and hung out the 50 minutes until we were able to board.  We boarded and took our seat.  Still having a bit of a buzz, I was ready for the next leg of the flight.  This time I was able to order food.  First I got my little box of organic snacks and a double vodka.  Then a bit later food was served and I ordered the cheese and fruit platter.  It was really good!  I ate every bit of it. Still, Taco wouldn’t eat even when offering him some apple and cheese.  Two things he would normally eat in a heartbeat.

Bathroom breaks on an airplane with Taco are interesting.  If you could picture it, I am holding Taco like a baby being burped and walking to the head.  So, then I have to put Taco down in this tiny coffin sized room just to go potty.  Then, flush (which scares Taco), wash hands, pick up Taco and walk back to our seat, get comfortable and seat belt.  All this time my phone isn’t updating due to the fact that I have no service.  I have no idea where we were and how much longer.  The men that I was sandwiched in the middle of didn’t want to be bothered so I felt that I was trapped by the unknown.  So I finished my drink and tried to take a nap.  Just about that time we started our decent into Orlando.  Thank God!

What I am guessing is about 45 minutes before we landed.  Then, touchdown!  I text my beat friend Tammy and she told me to text her when I get my luggage.  So, I hight tail it to the tram, get on, get off, and race down the escalator to the baggage claim.  About 5 minutes later luggage is starting coming out in the conveyor belt.  I see mine and run and get it.  Then I text Tammy and she is on her way from the cell lot.  Taco and I jump into the vehicle with the help of Tammy and we were off to Suwannee County!

Taco was still freaked out and took a well needed calm nap in the back seat and I was slowly fading.  My body was aching from all the stress of flying and sitting for so long.  It was so nice to get back to the hood.  Taco just was happy to be free from a leash and me.  He was able to run around and finally go to the bathroom.  It was like he had to pee forever.  When we finally went inside he was just a little shell of himself.  He wouldn’t eat anything and just wanting to sleep.  A little later we went to our friend Jan’s house to see the gang.  It was so great to see everyone!

We got back to the house and I laid in bed watching a show on my iPad and I was falling asleep dropping the iPad on my chest.  It was 9:30 pm Florida time.  I was sleeping good when I received a phone call that woke me up too abruptly.  I was disoriented and didn’t know where I was and what time it could be.  I had an older washing machine for free on Craigslist and it was a woman calling about it.  I’m still on Alaska time but hadn’t slept for 24 hours so I could’t speak or think.  I told here to text me her name and I would get back with her when I woke up on Florida time.  I was so disoriented that threw the covers and pillows off the bed trying to figure out where I was.  Now after the fact it’s pretty funny.

Yesterday, Tammy and I went to town to run some errands.  I needed to go to Walmart for some things, we ate blacked fish tacos at Beef o Brady’s then to the liquor store, and last Publix.  I forgot how inexpensive food is here I looked like a tourist in my old town.  As we marked things off our list it started raining and the temperature went from 77 to 53 by the time we got back to the house.  We got home around 5 pm and took it easy.  Tammy said I brought the weather with me when I left Alaska.  I wasn’t feeling like going to bed since I am still 4 hours behind on Alaska time.  Tammy wanted to stay up with me and so she did.  This morning she is suffering from lack of sleep.  Me on the other had a full nights sleep on my Alaska time schedule.  Went to bed at 2 am Florida/10 pm Alaska and woke up at 12 pm Florida/8 am Alaska.  Tonight I am taking two benedryls and call it a night by 10 pm Florida.  We have a lot to do tomorrow.  We have to go back into town for a few more errands and I need to go by the rental house and check on it.  We want to get it all done in the morning and then prepare for more guests for this weekend.

Tonight we had homemade soup that Tammy made it’s called Tammy’s Take on Pasta Fagioli with kale, zucchini and Italian sausage and lots of garlic bread.  Yummy!

Meanwhile, Dad is working his way down from Alaska on the ALCAN.  He was currently spotted he was spotted last in Watson Lake, Yukon about an hour ago.  He just might make it to British Columbia today.  If you see Dad driving Spike and a 28 foot white empty enclosed trailer,  give him a wave and say hi.  He is slow and steady and should be out of Canada in a few days.

Well, good night everyone.  I will try to do better about posting.

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 51 Homestead 

A history lesson for those of you who may have just found us. 68 days ago (17 of them driving) Summer and I left our home on the Suwannee River to change our lives in ways that were unknown to us at the time. Some have been good others not so much. We packed our lives into a 28′ cargo trailer and a 40′ school bus and set out on this adventure. We spent 17 days getting from O’Brien, FL to Fritz Creek, AK. It was an arduous trip made mostly at 50 mph. As we had only one familial connection in Florida and she was quickly becoming an independent young woman. So there was little to keep us from pursuing our lifelong dream. The grand daughter and her loving family are only an airline ticket away. So here we are trying to out this derelict house back in proper order. The entire history is on alaskaorbust.blog
Day 51 Friday 10/102017 Arose at dawn or about 9:30 to blinding sun and brilliant blue skies. As I got dressed, I looked out from my second story window to see that it had been sleeting during the night. There was just enough to cover Spike’s cab (Spike is a Dodge Ram 3500 diesel, 4 wheel drive ‘Bully Boy’). Spike is one wonderful bit of machinery. Anyway, I went downstairs to where I could smell coffee brewing, stepped out the backdoor for some fire wood and to let Miss Suzy do her morning business. The thermometer was reading about 15 degrees. Not too bad for daybreak. While I sipped my usual 8 cup kick start, I read some news and planned today’s activities. We are still without adequate firewood as the providers of said wood have not yet been able to get into the forest and cut said wood as the ground has not yet frozen. The result is that we’re still burning destruction wood from the previous owners ripping one of the rooms off the house.  
Gathering wood begins with not dressing to warmly even though the outside temp is hovering around 18. Dress too warmly while you are working hard leads to perspiration and that leads to getting very cold very quickly because the sweat evaporates and cools the skin while doing so.. The cold here in Alaska is very dry so any skin exposed to that cold is dry and cracking before you can say BOO! Anyway, I treaded very carefully out onto the wood pile avoiding upright nails as I went. The wood pile, which due to some poor planning (I forgot the 7Ps) on my part is partially covered in dirt and gravel, there I began knocking the frozen boards loose. Knock a board loose and toss it on to the gravel driveway near Summer, my daughter, then rinse and repeat. Spent about an hour gathering up the lumber pieces before I was breaking a sweat and my toes were cold. The fool, that deconstructed this room with a chainsaw, cut up several thousand dollars worth of lumber. There is rough cut lumber pieces from 6″x12″ down to 2″x6″ and many of the had to be 12 feet or longer. Like the song says, “God is great, beer is good and people are crazy”. With several days of wood procured we went inside to reap the benefits of the effort by warming our hands and feet by the wood stove. We aren’t without heat even if there is no wood. We have an oil fired stove that will keep us from freezing to death, even if it won’t heat the entire house.
Next on the agenda was getting the plumbing and electrical run for the washer and dryer. These were once in the missing room but now must reside in the downstairs bathroom until other arrangements can be made. To do that I had to remove some of the old boards from the original cabin. I probably need to remind you that this two story house was attached to an old homestead cabin. Half of that cabin was the water storage room and laundry. That is the half that the crazy person removed. I was a little sad to saw away what was just about the last untouched pieces of someone’s history. But progress must be made and Summer wants the washer and dryer installed ASAP. I do, as well, for a different reason. The cost of doing two peoples weekly laundry is a staggering $25 plus. When I was in college and wore my cleanest dirty clothes to the laundromat the cost was about $3 for a months worth of laundry. Running the drain proved to be a problem as the wall had a 3″ standpipe/drain from upstairs running through it. No choice but run the drain on the outside of the wall. Kinda ugly but a necessary solution. I already had hot and cold water run in PEX piping in wall so that did not pose much of a problem for connections. The electrical wiring was run in an existing chase and through the wall. And as that brilliant philosopher, Bobby Cecil, used to say, “All we lack is finishing”.
Next open the day’s program was the assembly of the dining room table. It is a very nice table left by the previous owners. They had taken the legs off and stacked it against the wall. Summer wanted it so I dragged it to the middle of the kitchen and she assembled it while I was closing the torn out wall with some plywood. After a bit she called me to help her stand it up. We started to lift it an one of the legs broke off. Apparently, the disassemblers of the table had unscrewed the wood screw part most of the way out of the leg. Inspection found that another leg had the same problem. I sent Summer to find some Gorilla Glue while I found the tools we would need to repair the leg. When she returned I showed her how to jam two nuts together and screw the bolts back into the wood. Also, showed her how to clamp the leg with a couple of small screws to tighten the joint so that the glue could set properly. I am a big fan of Gorilla Glue as the joint it makes it stronger that the wood it connects.
The day ended with us sitting at the newly assembled table eating potato soup and watching TV. No complaints about having soup again, it was very good.

It’s All About Bear

So the other day we found a wonderful dog at the Suwannee County Animal Shelter.  His name is Bear (which we found appropriate) our new family member!  He is loyal, flea bitten, lovable, and over exuberant!  He was so excited that he ran the walls of my house until he tired and then I gave him the bath of a lifetime.  He was falling asleep as I was scrubbing all the dirt and fleas off of him.  I love Beagles!  My old dog that I lost, Cookie, was part Beagle and Bear acts just like her.  It was meant to be!  Since his wash today he has found comfort in the A/C vent on the floor and laying over it felt oh so good.  He is so skinny and ate a huge meal this evening and is now sleeping again on the floor.  I just love a pound puppy!  It’s been a longtime since I’ve seen a dog feel so blessed.

Please adopt a pound puppy!  They will always feel blessed to have you!