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.