Dad’s Alaska

Here’s to being Corroded Virus free

O3 May 2020 Sunday Was a lazy day. Didn’t get started on my projects until after 1:00. Got the right front axle extension and the right front tire on the tractor and on the parts tractor. The parts tractor rim that was on the left side had the stud holes wallowed out so I swapped it for the right wheel. This will give me a better rim for the left side of the ‘good’ tractor. The rim will still need to be sandblasted and painted orange to match the other rims. Will be taking the rims down for the tire swapping on Monday.

I am, usually, immune to bees. Yet, on Saturday, as I was trying to place the new queen in the hive I was attacked by dozens of bees. I was holding the new queen in my left hand and they just swarmed my hand and I got 15-20 stings. My left hand and wrist were attacked with a vengeance. In addition, I got stung in several places on my forehead.I can normally stand amongst the bees and do whatever needs to be done with no protection. Not on Saturday. My hand and wrist are swollen up big time. I guess I’ll have to be more careful in the future.

Assembled hornet trap without bait

04 May 2020 Monday I still have a swollen hand and wrist. Been taking a lot of Benadryl. I am lethargic from the Benadryl and getting nothing done. Sat on my butt all day. The only thing I accomplished was to make 12 hornet traps. Up here Yellow Jackets are called hornets. Since Yellow Jackets are in the hornet family, it makes sense. Yellow jackets are the murderer of honey bees and it hurts like hell when they ting you. I found that out las week when one, inadvertently, flew up the sleeve of my coat. The little bugger stung me 4 times before I smashed him/her against my arm. Therefore, I have two reasons to trap and kill as many as possible. The traps are constructed from repurposed plastic water bottles. The trap has the top cut off and inverted into the bottle. Bugs get in but can’t find their way out. Will be baiting the traps and putting them all around the property. It rained off and on all day. This precluded much outdoor work so I spent much of the day doing piddily little projects inside. One thing was to make the above mentioned hornet traps. Much of the downstairs house cleaning is partially on hold due to the two large windows where Summer’s seeded out plants that are not yet planted in the garden. The tomatoes were moved out a couple of days ago and that cleared up some floor space. I am looking forward to getting all of the plants moved and planted in the garden. However, the moving of the plants hinges upon getting the dump truck back from the repair shop. With the truck back in service, I can haul dirt to fill all of the planting boxes that we have and some that Summer is building this week. In addition, I need to haul 4-5 truck loads of gravel to make a better parking place for our 34’ travel trailer. The point of moving the travel trailer is too be able to AIR B&B it. This will bring in some extra cash. We expect that most of the renters will be people from Anchorage that come to the Homer area to fish. Saltwater fishing is a big deal in the area. Many people bring their boats and stay for the entire weekend. We have plenty of room for them to park their boat so that will be attractive to the fishing crowd.

05 May 2020 Tuesday First project of the day was to get the tractor tires to the tire shop. Because of the rain, I did not get to sandblast the rim that I’m going to put on the good tractor. I skipped that this morning in order to get the tires changed to be able to get the tractor to the welding shop for a minor repair. My hand and wrist were still swollen so I made a doctor appointment, since I had to go to town with the tires anyway. Later. Couldn’t get a same day doctor appointment. Summer decided that she had to go to town so I sent her to the tire shop with the tractor tires. I stayed home and built shelving inside of the Conex. While installing the shelving the plywood into the metal shelving unit, I managed to cut a U-shaped hole in my first finger knuckle. I bled like a stuck hog for a few minutes. I went on and finished cutting and installing three more pieces of plywood into the shelving unit. The bleeding stopped after about ten minutes but the shelving told the tale. Now I’m walking around with both hands injured. I finished the shelving and went inside to wash off the dried blood and poured some peroxide onto the injury. A large bandaid and a small vodka later, I went back to picking up stuff off the floor of the Conex. My hoarder’s aisle rapidly disappeared. This moving of material led to my tossing much of it into the trash bin.

3 weeks ago
Now

06 May 2020 Wednesday. Spent the day doing small chores. I changed the oil and filter on the tractor. I need it to be ready to go when we get the tires back from the shop. Speaking of tires, I called the shop and was told that they hadn’t gotten to them yet. This is tire changeover time in Alaska. People are having their winter tires removed and summer tires installed. This rush to change tires has put our tractor tires on the back burner. With the tire holdup continuing, I continued my shelf building project. As quickly as I completed a shelving unit it seemed to magically fill up with stuff off the floor. My poor bee attacked left hand is still swollen and what is the injury to my 1st finger knuckle is still feeling just a wee bit painful. I picked up a couple of 50 pound sacks of chicken feed and broke the skin open again. More bleeding that required a changing of the bandage. Checked on the dump truck and was told that it still isn’t ready. Between the holdup of the tractor tires and the holdup on the dump truck we are getting very damned little done. Summer needs 3-4 loads of dirt for her garden projects and I need 4-5 loads of gravel to finish some of the projects around the property. Without the dump truck and the tractor we are at a very frustrating standstill.

Wednesday evening moon over Kachemak Bay
Another Wednesday evening moon over Kachemak Bay

07 May 2020 Thursday. Crawled out of bed and guzzled my usual 32 ounces of coffee. My previously made doctor appointment was at 10:30. The main reason for the appointment was to be rid of the cough caused by taking the blood pressure med, Lisinopril. I needed to be off that med because it has become almost constant problem. It is causing people to look askance at me when I go into the stores in town. Between the cough and constant clearing of my throat are driving me crazy. I didn’t cough this much when I was smoking 4-5 packs of cigarettes every day. Back then, I would often have one cigarette already lit while lighting another, I had fewer respiratory irritation problems. Currently, my lungs are, as usual, clear but this constant clearing of the throat and coughing has to stop. 10:15 I arrive at the health clinic only to be met in the parking lot by a nurse wearing goggles, mask, gloves and what appeared to be operating room garb. She had a clip board with a list of near 20 questions that she was tasked to ask every newly arriving patient. I answered “No” to all of them and she told me to wait in my truck. A few minutes later she appeared with another clipboard with a form for me to look at and make sure all of the information was correct. I stayed in my truck and continued to listen to Rush while I waited. About 20 minutes later a male nurse wearing only a mask as a Corroded Virus deterrent. After that the visit continued as usual except that I was required to wear a proven useless mask. The upshot of all this rigamarole is that I’m off the Lisinopril. The doctor said it might be as much as two weeks before the cough goes away. I can hardly wait. I left the clinic and proceeded to the dump to drop off yesterday’s collection of trash. After that I went to the grocery store to get some “Make your own Dinner” food. After that I stopped at the tire shop and found that the tractor tires were ready. They loaded them up for me and separated me from some cash. On the way home, I checked in with the garage and found that the dump truck carburetor was still not repaired. I’m not really sure what the holdup is at this point. Whatever it is, it is creating problems for me and Summer. The welding shop where I wanted to have some minor repair to the tractor done was closed. The owner, Charlie, is in his late 60s. I guess he is trying to avoid the Corroded Virus. Decided that I would just do a ‘work around’ for the welding project. Time for lunch. After lunch I got the tires out of the truck and installed the tire onto the ‘parts’ tractor. About the time I got this done, it began to rain. The welding ‘work around’ will have to wait until tomorrow. The ground has dried so we were out of mud. I guess it was time for more mud. A few hours later, after the rain stopped, the wind arrived. During the balance of the night there was much noise outside as things not secured were blown around. There were numerous gusts so strong that they shook the house. I went to bed at midnight and slept through the continued mayhem outside.

08 May 2020 Friday I started the tractor today. Put in the battery, turned the key and it jumped to life. It had not been started since last Fall, maybe September. I love diesel engines. They can be left for months and will start right up when you turn the key. Sun is out and white puffy clouds abound. No rain is predicted so I can get on with the sandblasting of the rim for the ‘good’ tractor. Life is good. Much Later. Got out the sand blaster an assembled it, sort of. The water separator could not be installed as the handle of the built in cart was in the way. Made a trip to the hardware store and bought a longer pipe so as to clear the handle. With this problem solved, I finished the assembly process. Once the Separator was installed and I turned on the air, I found that the Separator was cracked and leaking. Off to the hardware store for a second time to purchase a new Separator. Back at the ranch, I tried to install the new Separator and found that I had failed to note that the pipe size for this new one was different from the old one. Third trip to hardware store to get the proper pipe fittings. Plumbing of any kind is a guaranteed three trip to the hardware store day for me. Again home and, finally, assembled the sandblaster. Started the air compressor and filled the sandblaster with air. Had just over 100 PSI of air pressure but the damned thing wasn’t taking any paint off the rim. I wasted over three hours screwing with this Harbor Freight piece of junk. While fuming over the expense (just over $35) in an attempt to make this borrowed POS work, I remembered that I had found a gallon of paint stripper while I was attempting to organize the Conex. Figuring that the outcome couldn’t be any worse, I sprayed that on both sides of the rim. We’ll see tomorrow, if the stripper removes 20+ year old paint. Getting the remnants of the paint off is a necessity in order to properly treat and stop the rust. The only other impediment to getting the tractor running is the strut I had to cut to get the axle assembly off. I couldn’t get the patch welded so I decided to reenforce it with an additional piece of metal 1/2 inch metal strap. Got the first one off to use as a pattern and drilled the necessary holes. When I went to install the strips of metal, I found that the original bolts that I had used were too short. I dug around through a couple of buckets of bolts and couldn’t find anything even close to long enough. The hardware store had already closed so I resigned myself to picking up the tools and making a vodka refreshment. Dan and Summer had gone into town and come back with burgers and fries from Alice’s Champagne Palace. It was about 7:30 when they very generously provided a burger and fries for my dinner. Several adult beverages and a half a bag of Fritos later, Miss Suzie and I went to bed and, perhaps, to have nightmares about useless sandblasters and too short bolts.

A view across the property showing the hole for the new addition.

09 May 2020 Saturday Rolled out of bed at a moderately early 8:00 AM. Drank myself fully awake with several cups of coffee. Got fully energized by about 11:00 and went outside to look at the tractor rim. The paint stripper had dried overnight ( the directions said to wash it off after 15-20 minutes) so I had to reapply stripper in order to remove the dried stripper. I had used a wire brush on my grinder to remove the loose paint before applying the stripper. After I hosed it off, it was obvious that not all of the paint was going to come off. 20+ year old paint is, apparently, impervious to the actions of two applications of stripper. Like most things in life ‘You get what you get’. I rolled the tire/rim out into the sun to dry as I had planned to use a product called ‘naval jelly’ to cut the rust off the rim. While that project was on hold, I made yet another trip to the hardware store. This time to get longer bolts for the strut repair. Two hours later and four bolts inserted in their proper places, I had made the temporary repair to the strut. Welding the strut will just have to wait until the welding shop reopens someday. This put me ready to paint the naval jelly rust remover onto the rim. This was supposed to be another wait 15 minutes and hose it off except I got wrapped up in helping Summer and forgot about it. A couple of hours later and the naval jelly had dried. Had to spray another coat of it to get the first coat off. I was very surprised to see areas of clean bare metal when I got the crud removed. I rolled it out to a sunny spot to dry. I wanted to paint the rim as soon as I could. I have been attempting to repair the tent that collapsed from too much snow on the roof in the past winter. A lot of the poles and fittings were damaged in the collapse so I’m having to try to straighten some of them and figure out how to repair the tent with parts missing. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to do everything that needs to be done. My last official act of today was putting a first coat of paint on both sides of the tractor rim. Tomorrow I’ll finish the painting and get the tire onto the tractor. At last, I will have completed a job. Everything else seems to be beset with one seemingly intractable problem or another. Gave up on accomplishing anything today and quit at about 7: 45. The time for vodka had arrived. Tacos for dinner with some Louisiana Hot Sauce and sweet iced tea. Whoopee!!!!

Poor little crippled Paasquale
Little Pasquale back where he belongs

10 May 2020 Sunday I got up this morning before breakfast. Which is to say about 9:00 AM. Made the coffee, had some toast and between the first and second cup of coffee I put a second coat of paint on the rim. Second cup of coffee always leads to the news. I scanned The London Daily Mail, Drudge, Breitbart and some other lesser news outlets for about and hour sipping the third cup of coffee. Gotta get them 32 ounces of caffeine every morning regardless of what else needs to happen. Later, I put a third coat of paint on the rim. Summer was cleaning up the pile of debris and stuff that we had carelessly piled in front of the greenhouse. You must cross the front of the greenhouse and access the spring box to turn on the water. This meant that you had to pick your way through large rocks, a roll of TYPAR, a couple of old pallets, a number of broken and discarded pots, etc. It was a mess that we’d become blind to. Suddenly yesterday I saw it. I’d only been walking around and through it for 7-8 months. I amongst this junk pile was some heavy plastic pipe that I salvaged from the dump last summer. Someone had dismantled a hoop house and toss the plastic ribs into the dump. While we were cleaning up the mess Summer and I decided that she needed a place to put her tomatoes that she had planted in Homer buckets. Right now she had them set in the greenhouse between the rows of other veggies. It is inconvenient to move around in the greenhouse as they seem to be constantly in the way. This led to the construction of a Lean-To half a hoop house. I built a frame that I attached to the exposed big tent floor joist. We needed some piping to drive into the ground to hold the lower end of the plastic pipe ribs. We went shopping in my pile of ‘possibles’ and found 30 feet of old steel gas line. This I cut into 2 foot lengths after spending 30 minutes, maybe more, trying to find the correct tools to take the saw apart and install the metal cutting blade. My Conex workshop is still not well organized. Therefore, I can remember seeing the needed tool but exactly where is the mystery.

Half a hoop house under construction
Tomato buckets in the greenhouse

The hoop house project was put on hold as Summer had to go into town for something. I didn’t ask and she didn’t volunteer. Anyway, I really don’t want or need to know everything she does. I have quite enough trouble just keeping myself going in a straight line. While she was gone I got the tire onto the tractor. The operating tractor made it mandatory that I go move some dirt. I moved dirt, flattened humps and satisfied myself that we would get a few more days or maybe weeks use out of it before something else broke. Upon Summer’s return the hoop house project began in earnest. While she was out galavanting around in the big city of Homer, I gather up the tools and things we would need to build the hoop house. At 6:30 Summer had done all of the work she wanted to do for the day and went in to make dinner. At 7:30, I had installed the last tack board to which the plastic sheeting would be attached. I put in 8 hours today and am trying to do that everyday as the Spring-Summer-Fall seems to only last about 15 minutes

The tent destroyed by last winters snow.

I went inside just in time to get a plate full of pancakes and a couple of sausage patties. Breakfast for supper. It was good. We’d been given a bottle of real Maple syrup. I put it on my pancakes and I have to say I was a little disappointed. I have never had the real Maple syrup and had heard people rave about how good it was. I was a little disappointed. I added some Mrs Butterworths to it. The sausage came from a neighbor who had slaughtered a hog a couple of weeks back. It was pretty good sausage. My Dad made better but their sausage was pretty good and had the added bonus of being free.

Well, it’s 12:30 AM on Monday. Guess I’ll take a shower and go to bed.