Monday, August 30, 2010

Lots of Change

August 29, 2010
We notice Gustavus changing. The tourism season is over. Only a few stragglers with cameras wander the main haunts now. Glacier Bay lodge is set to close in a week. The cruise ships we see going up-bay in the distance will soon depart for points south. The fireweed bloom is over. Local folks say when the fireweed bloom reaches the top fall is only a few weeks away. As if to endorse that fact the cottonwood tree’s leaves are turning yellow and have begun to fall in the driveway. After long summer days (18 hours of daylight at solstice) it now is dark at 9PM, and each day seems noticeably shorter. I don’t know for sure how many minutes we lose at this latitude. One person told me five minutes per day. That would seem about right. We should lose close to another hour of sunlight in the next two weeks. Ole Sol would rise well north, sweep south in a large ark during the day, and then set well north again at night only a few months ago. Now it rises and sets more noticeably to the south. A year round resident here reminded me moose season begins in only two weeks. I guess we all tell time in different fashion.
The ridge cap is on the cabin roof. I did ride the ridge while Paulette kept watch from below. The physical position was tough on my osteoarthritic hips so I only managed to install ten feet a day. The last day I felt a bit less discomfort so did the final 18 feet and was relieved to have the top done! Only one rake eave edge remains and the roof will be finished. All the sheeting is on the cabin sides. What an adventure getting plywood up the ladder 22 feet and then nailing it under the gable. I could use a safety harness on the roof but under the gables I had only a tall ladder for a platform. Half the cabin now has the moisture resistant barrier installed. When the other half is wrapped I can install windows and doors and weather seal them as best I can with what I have. If that goes well I should have time to do a few more interior walls before we leave. The cabin is now completely enclosed and has a personality. I think we are both very pleased with the shell that will be our home.
Glacier Bay National Park is offering a special to local residents. Tourism is so slow they will allow us to go up-bay for an eight hour cruise to see the glaciers for half price. Paulette and I plan to do that if we can discern which day will be nicest. I’ll miss the nice dinners at the lodge when it closes. We tried to go up about once every other week and have a relaxing meal while looking out the entirely glass side of the restaurant at some of the greatest scenery on the planet. I wish I could describe it to you.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Weather Pattern

Some wild raspberries grow on the meadow end of the property. They are delicious.

Two days ago the weather here must have entered the fall rainy period. We get some rain most every day now. Fortunately most of the precipitation seems to come at night, at least so far. Temps are a little cooler too, especially at night, but days are about right for working. I'm back to doing full days, but seem to run out of gas about three o'clock in the afternoon. After some M&Ms and a brief rest I go back to plodding on what needs doing. Most of the work now is high altitude. The roof has trim to finish and about 3/5 of the ridge cap needs to be installed. It bugs my bad knee to ride the ridge to install the cap, but I have to get it done, so I do one piece a day. You can see the gable of the front needs sheeting and then moisture resistant barrier (Tyvek). I have to push the plywood pieces up the ladder while dragging the nail gun along. I must make 50 trips up and down a day. The number of steps for that height is 17-19. The benefit is I had to get out my leather punch and put a new hole in my belt to hold the pants up. I don't have a clue what I weigh. I simply know I am two notches slimmer than in May.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Construction for Dummies

We are behind schedule, but even so the progress we have made since May 8 is truly amazing. When we originally walked on the property we saw nothing but dense forest. One month and 92 trees later we had a driveway and a building site. Another month produced a foundation and sub-floor. The remaining framing took most of another 30 days. (The interior walls still need to be done. And some sheeting on the exterior to keep out the weather this winter.) Even with the medical setback I am amazed at what we have accomplished compared to when we first walked on the property.

Paulette took this of me installing roofing this afternoon. The black plastic covering the roof to my right remains to be roofed. To that add the ridge cap and the rake eave flashing. Two to three days should do it if the weather holds, but I don't feel very confident riding the ridge to put on the ridge cap. We'll see whether I can work up the gumption.

These are the tools used to build the cabin. Amazing. Plus I had a few ladders. Imagine how they did construction before power tools.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I think I'm back to about 90%. I put in a full day today, Monday, but am a bit tired tonight. There is a lot of pressure to get the roof buttoned up as the weather could go into fall rains any time. Hopefully if the weather cooperates I can finish the roof in the next few days. If the weather doesn't cooperate it will be a bit longer.

I'm passing "gravel" from the remnants of the large stone. The pain is nothing compared to the large stone. Doc wants to analyze the pieces to see what kind of stone in the hope we can head this type of thing of in the future.

The weather the last 5 days has been excellent, perhaps the best of summer. Sunday was so nice we took a walk along the beach. Kids were playing in the 45 degree water (!) and having a great time. Pink Salmon have started to run in the river by the house. The run is sort of skimpy this year. I guess they had a poor run two years ago so not a lot of new salmon were born to support this year's run. But it's nice to see. No bear or moose sightings, though we did observe that a bear tried to get in the trailer while we were gone the two weeks. Fortunately it didn't succeed. But there were muddy paw prints on the outside walls around about 2/3 of the trailer. No scratches though. The reason is we had some wet garbage left in the trailer when we left to Juneau, and the bear smelled it.

We are doing well.

Friday, August 13, 2010

On the Mend

Doc removed the stint yesterday, and about six hours later I started feeling much better. The process was iffy for a while as the doc could not find the stint with the scope due to swelling and said he might have to take me back into the hospital for general anesthesia. I groaned at that prospect and in my discomfort urged him to try again while I silently and fervently prayed. Fortunately he snagged it that time. I'll be passing "gravel" for a day or two, but that discomfort is minor compared to the pain of the large stone. We will be on a small plane about 2PM heading for our "remote" home. Our host here in Juneau has been nothing but gracious, and we are grateful beyond words, but there is nothing like your own space, and I'm anxious to get back to work in a few days.

On the fun side we unknowingly were mentioned in a contemporary song!!! (Have we been in Juneau too long?) Click the title above and it will link you to another blog, scroll down to Asher's Song, and click play. The words are below the video on that blog. Don't have your sound too loud at first because another little voice comes into the background a bit loud. I smile but realize it's also an evidence we have been here more than a few days... and it makes me miss our own grandkids.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Man of Constant Sorrows

I woke up this morning with that title from a song from Oh Brother Where Art Thou going through my head. Go figure.

Last Thursday they did the surgery. After nine hours in recovery without much improvement they decided to admit me to the hospital. I spent two more days hospitalized. Then two in a house for out-of-area people next to emergency trying to get back some semblance of normalcy to the organs that had been traumatized. Monday we are back on the floor at Mick and Sherri's home for a few days. I am improved but not back to normal by any definition. Thursday the stint is suppose to be removed. Here's hoping that goes ok. My body doesn't need any more trauma and the clock is ticking on getting the roof finished.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Life as a Pile

Before the kidney stone hit I took a picture of the small assembly of tools used to build the cabin. They are few. It is remarkable what one can do with a few good tools. Amazingly, I have gone through about 15,000 collated nails with the nail gun during construction.

Thursday AM I go in for the surgical procedure. I'm not looking forward to it but realize the alternative would be worse if this goes into sepsis. No one is surprised there is a tussle with insurance. We are out of our HMO area and they so far haven't approved treatment. I reason with them that people don't stay home all the time. The person in customer service is nice but only a messenger. They hide the person who makes the decision so you can't talk to them.

We arrived in Juneau with basically the shirts on our backs and two toothbrushes. So Paulette got to do a little shopping. She got herself some nice simple outfits. She grabbed a package of new underwear for me. Next morning when I showered I went to put some on and knew there was something wrong. They were size 42. I can normally wear 36.

I think of the stacks of lumber we had when we started the cabin. There were about six of them that stood 3.5 feet tall. Today we are down to a few small piles with almost no lumber left in them. I think of what I am going through in light of that. Sometimes life deals us a pile and we get to try to make something constructive of it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Phone Charger

Hannah Ewing (Hoshide) had exactly the same cell phone as Paulette so loaned us her charger. (Thanx Hannah!) The phones are back on line as of Monday AM (unless we must turn them off at the hospital).