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 61

Today was pretty much a total waste.  The wood delivery guy ran over the line on the ground and cut the power to the pump.  Then the snow and wind somehow managed to unplug the light and heaters in the pump house.  We had no water when we arose this morning.    I hate this damned water situation but there are no alternatives.  Too late in the year for a well and wells are an iffy situation, at best.  There is a lot of bad water in this area.  It is filled with arsenic and cannot be used to for drinking or cooking.  Drilling can be as deep as 400 feet and is very expensive.   The only good thing is that came out of this is that we have firewood and were quite warm all night.

The water problem was a frozen pump.  Reconnecting the electricity to the heating equipment solved that problem in a couple of hours.  Little did I know that there would be other problems later in the day.

Moved onto cleaning out the bathroom floor so that the wafer board  and then sheetrock could be installed.  Summer went into town to get three more sheets to finish two jobs in the house.

An hour later, I spent an hour getting the upstairs commode repaired.  This took longer than I expected because it is my nemesis, plumbing.  Most plumbing require, at least, three trips to the hardware store.  Got the commode installed and it wouldn’t fill. To quote Joe Dirt, “DANG”.

Water investigation Part Deux:  Breaker was tripped.  Reset the breaker but pump wouldn’t run.  Found that the pump motor was out on overheat as the thermal overload was tripped.  Further inspection  located the line that operated the pressure switch was leaking all the pressure in a matter minutes which made the pump run constantly.  That caused the over heat and the breaker trip, I guess.  Made a trip to The Gear Shed to buy the wrong part.  The plastic line from the pump housing to the pressure switch is 1/8″ instead of the 1/4″ that I purchased.  Exasperated and unwilling to go out onto the snow/ice roads again, I rattled through my plumbing box once again.  There I found a 3/8 male pipe x 1/8 tube fitting.  Problem solved.  Things are usually not that easy.

Summer came home and we took the lumber off the truck and hauled in some more firewood.

Tomorrow we will get to the bathroom wall and put up the sheetrock, I hope.  Thursday is Thanksgiving.  I might not work for 15-20 minutes in the AM or until I finish my coffee.

Dinner tonight was leftover Tamale Casserole.  We had Teriyaki Salmon filets laid out to thaw but it didn’t do it soon enough.  Back in the fridge and out comes the casserole that I had intended to eat for lunch today.   Was better the second day.

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!

The Beginning of ALASKA OR BUSt

Hi!  I’m Summer.  I have always wanted to live in Alaska since I was in high school.  Well, 20 years later my dream is finally coming true and Dad (Bob) is along for the ride.  Dad says he wants one more adventure before he takes the big dirt nap.

I have put my house on the Suwannee River on the market, traded in my Jeep Patriot for a huge Dodge Ram 3500 Dually named Big Bertha, sold all seven of my honey bee hives, selling all my chickens, excess vehicles, pontoon boat, and donating a truck full of clothes and stuff to donate to the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch.

Bob and I bought a big school bus we named Alaska or BUSt.  We have pulled all the seats out of it and have begun loading her up with boxes.  It’s all coming together. Our hope is that we don’t need another trailer to haul our belongings in.

Here is the house I bought sight unseen with title of the listing “Fun Fixer Upper”.  It will be interesting when we get there and start renovating the house.  But look at that view looking over Kachemak Bay!

Stay tuned to see and read my adventure as Dad and I make our way to Alaska!