Saturday, July 31, 2010

Just a Stone's Throw Away

The title above has some meaning. Thursday evening I went into severe pain in the right kidney. Every pain med we had available would only dull the pain a little for a very short time. Finally I couldn't take it any more and Paulette called 911. The village EMT's were great and sat with me the rest of the night while trying to get med advise through calls to a Juneau hospital or friends. Unfortunately being remote in Alaska not much emergency medicine is available, but they did what they could for me. They got me on a small airplane first thing in the morning and we were at the hospital ER in Juneau by 7:15. Three hours and a bunch of tests later they had a diagnosis of a large stone that had barely left the kidney. By then the stone quit moving and though I felt like I had been dragged through a knot hole backwards I was experiencing only twinges. ER doc advised not to go back to Gustavus until the stone situation is resolved or I could be in the same situation all over again. After what I went through for twelve hours he didn't need to reason long with me. The one urologist in town was out of town for the weekend. Long time friends Mick and Sherri were nearing the end of a construction project put us on the floor (it's Alaska where friends help no matter what the room) and I have a urologist appointment for Monday morning. I feel like a time bomb waiting to go off at any moment, but now will be near ER med help and an IV pain killer if the stone moves again.

I had a few pix of the cabin progress ready but we left with only the shirts on our backs (and Paulette grabbed our toothbrushes). So no pix but I have about 1/3 of the roof done. We knew there was a downside to being remote in Alaska but our general health is good so we expect this is a temporary glitch.

We have our cell phones but no chargers and our batteries were low when we left Gustavus. I apologize if some of you did not get personal calls and thanks to Elisabeth who offered to spread the word to family. I turn the phone on a few times a day and check for voice mail. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated. mel

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Eagles 6, Ducklings 0

I saw a bit of red when I walked to the bank of the river this morning. It was a moose with a tracking collar. To the left of her is a dark spot in the grass that is the ear of her calf. This is the first moose we have seen in about a month, but did find tracks in the yard yesterday from a large moose that walked through in the night.

A mama duck of a kind I have never seen before has eight ducklings we have watched develop. She is crafty and shy, but the story is that of predator and prey. The number of ducklings goes down every few days. Last I saw there were only two left, and yesterday I witnessed an eagle after those two. If we don't see the remaining two within a few days I figure it is eagles 8, ducklings 0.

My wrists are quite arthritic after using the nail gun for the past month. They ache especially at night. I sometimes wonder whether I have bitten off more than I can chew. I backed off on the roof until I felt more comfortable with doing it. Instead I have been putting up sheathing (plywood on the exterior) for the last three or four days. It "ain't" easy jockeying 50 lbs of plywood eight to ten feet in the air. I have about two days more to go to finish that, mostly smaller pieces, but also more trips up and down the ladder, which bugs my knee. Variety being the spice of life I went back to roofing prep today, and built scaffolding on half of one side of the roof this afternoon. It won't let me get very far up the roof, but will let me do the lower edge a bit more safely. The latest pix taken this morning:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Ain't As Good As I Once Was

Finished sheeting the dormer roofs this morning. Wrapping that up took about 3.5 hours today with the old guy and mid-aged neighbor alongside part of the time. Next step will be putting on underlay and then the metal roof itself. We are nearly at sea level so I can't blame the altitude for being tired. Other than that everything is perfect.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hitting the Wall

July 10, 2010
Yesterday, after two months of long sub-arctic days of aggressive construction with only one partial day off for a kidney stone, I hit the proverbial wall. I was on the roof putting up plywood sheeting. This is a very steep 45˚ 12/12 pitch roof. Muscles one doesn’t realize they have are engaged. One cannot relax up there. The distance to the ground is almost twenty feet. I was tied off in a safety harness left by Kent just in case I slipped walking on the 1.5 inch cleats. That way in a worst case scenario I would only fall a few feet before the rope caught me. The whole roof was finished other than three full sheets and two half sheets of plywood when it happened. I simply was out of energy. I tried resting a few minutes on the steep pitch, which is impossible, so I made my way to the side dormer and squeezed through into the loft. I felt drained and jittery. I sat down a while and my energy did not return. So I pulled the plug on myself. Rain was expected that night and I had hoped to get the building “dry” and was disappointed, but realized to go back up was out of the question for me. I would be risking injury. Then my neighbor who is eighty (83!) said to get the building dry was extremely important at that point and wanted me to give him the harness. I resisted. Another neighbor said the spry old guy could definitely do the last few sheets. He went up like a monkey, tied off up top, and completed the nailing. The next morning I saw him splitting wood and he commented his legs felt like jello. After my earlier five hours on muscle alert at the same task I knew exactly what he meant. I ache in places I didn’t know I had. I feel like every muscle needs a vacation. Gratefully at the end of the day plastic is pulled over the sheeting and the building is somewhat dry except for a few spots where the plastic tore a little. The next high altitude circus act will be to complete the dormer joists and sheet them, then install underlay and the metal roof. I’m not looking forward to either task at the moment. In a few days I trust I will be feeling stronger.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Dream Is Alive...

I barely finished my floor sheeting when Kent and Ben arrived from SoCal. We got busy the next day with framing the walls. That day unfortunately it rained hard all day. We were hunting for rain gear wherever we could find some.

Seven days later we had the tough stuff, except for roof sheeting, done. Now I need ot do lots of blocking, finish sheeting the roof, and get the metal roofing on. A small problem is my knees have been bothering me. My left knee is swollen enough to be noticable through the pantleg. We pushed pretty hard for eight days. I'm going to hopefully be able to slow down and let the knees repair for a day or two.

The front of the house will be six large windows. This view is from the loft. The great room below has a similar view but at a decreased angle. This is one of those pix you need to double click to get the full impact through a larger picture.

Wednesday Ben and I went fishing in the river for an hour. Ben caught a nice Dolly Varden, about 22-24 inches long. He had a blast. I think he caught about eight an hour, mostly a bit smaller than that nice sized one. We released all the smaller ones. I too had one hit my lure hard and break my line almost instantly. (It's old line.) I found it very relaxing to get out and kick back for those minutes. I have done zero fishing and only build since we got here. And it is nice to know the river has fish. :-)

Paulette kept us well fed during the last week. Kent hoped to lose some weight and I doubt that happened.

Ben and Kent are headed back to Calif and I'm lonely without them. I now face a lot more work. It is nice to have someone call down a board length, have it cut, and hand it up. Without them I'll be doing the climbing, measuring, climb down, cut, cart the piece back up, and nail in place. I'm very very grateful for the two of them who gave so freely to come and help. Words cannot express my appreciation fully. Thanks so very much Ben and Kent!