The Beginning – Chapter 16

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 16
After I get home, I feed my chicks that are looking long and leggy now. The little roosters are trying to crow once in a while and sound funny. I hurry and pick a bunch of small weeds from the garden and bring them over to dump in the pen for them. Then I check out how the ice house is looking and if I need more gravel. It seems to be firming up nicely as it dries so maybe it will be fine. I start up the tiller and run it between the rows quickly to make the garden look better and not let the weeds get too good a start on me. I use the rake on the sides of the hills so all that is left is the actual rows on top of each hill to pull weeds out of and I have been keeping them pulled fairly well for the chicks.
After I go in the house, I reheat some leftovers and eat as I sort through laundry needing folded. I figured I would have it all ready to need washed again if I waited long enough to fold it. Certainly was working out that way, right now. I tossed all the underwear and socks into a basket and did fold the T shirts and pants. A pair of the Carhardt pants for working in tomorrow and a long sleeved T shirt would work well. It is my standard day to day wear. T shirt color changes and sometimes the pants, too, depending on which pair gets worn. I dress for comfort while I work, not for anyone’s fashion sense. A pair of athletic shoes finishes the outfit. I’m set for tomorrow. We can probably have the cabin ready for a roof by tomorrow evening. That part I will be willing to leave to the guys. I’m up early the next morning and have transplanted a few more shrubs around the new ice house. It is starting to look like it has been there a while and blending in with the surroundings rather well. The moss and bushes in the surface I had cut out in chunks has apparently not suffered too much and is growing right back.
As I walk over to the woodshed, Pal presses against my leg and a low growl rumbles through him. I stop and look around, trying to see what is bothering him. Pretty soon he relaxes and we continue walking to the woodshed. Now he has me feeling jumpy, so when Noah walks around the corner of the woodshed a bit later, I nearly jump out of my shoes.
“Oh, I’m sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.” he says as he steps into the shed.
“Well, it wasn’t exactly you that scared me. Pal was growling at something out back here and then you said hi and I wasn’t expecting it.” I reply
. He is suddenly all business, “What did you see and did you hear anything?”
“Not really, maybe some brush crackling on down over the bank. I’m not sure.” I don’t feel too secure and am happy to have Pal and Noah both staying here. He asks if he should move his camper up to my yard and right now, that sounds pretty good. So I say sure
. After the camper is loaded and moved up the hill to my yard we leave it on the truck and use mine to go over to help on his Dad’s cabin. Odd, when Roman and Thad will both be living in it and are both paying for the materials, we all call it Roman’s cabin.
We unload Roman’s pickup and start loading stuff up onto the 2nd floor for the walls. In short order, we are in production again and walls are being built. Rose had us leave the siding stick up and cut slots wide enough for the rafters every 2 feet. We taped the wrap to the top of each piece to hold it in place until the rafters were on. This gave the top of the side walls the appearance of arrow slots. The side walls were the short sides of the cabin and only 6 feet high. The gable ends were across the long section and went up to 12 feet at the top of the point. This gave more height and more light into the upstairs room and a good pitch to the roof for snow to slide off. The ridge beam would be shorter, too. 20 feet instead of 28 feet. Much lighter for us to place after the walls were all up. We assembled the beam across the floor on the second floor, using 2“ x 12“s, liquid nails and strips of plywood between another 2“x12“. The beam was 3 2”x12”s wide Rose cut the ends slightly tapered so they would look finished.
I had brought my ladders and Rose and Kara had ladders, so did Roman, in his trailer, so we had plenty of ladders for everyone to be able to walk the beam up the ladders and slide into it’s slot on each end. Even with all of us it was still heavy and awkward but we didn’t drop it. We did almost put it in upside down, but caught that mistake seconds before it became reality. Kara said they had actually done that on one of hers. Very difficult to lift back up out of the slots and turn, once it is in.
The top plates are nailed on the side walls and it is ready to start putting up rafters. For a crew of amateurs, we are doing pretty darn good.
We load the rafters up to the 2nd floor and wish we had done it when we loaded the wall material as it would have been much easier, even if we had too keep moving it out of our way as we worked. Rose marked out where to cut the birds mouths and lined them up with that side up, walked down them with her chainsaw and made the first cut on all of them at once. Then a slight notch where the angle cut started to finish. As each rafter was turned on its side, she cut from the notch to the end of the other cut and had the birds mouths cut. The notches to fasten the outside rafters to the inside rafters were cut with the chainsaw also. The lower ends would rest on the top plate extensions we had made. But a little extra support never hurts. With such a small cabin, putting the rafters on didn’t take much time. We crisscrossed them over the ridge beam and nailed them together.
There were only small pieces sticking out to be trimmed off and the chainsaw again worked very well for that. Two of us on ladders started on fastening the house wrap over the rafters. We overlapped the walls a small amount, then cut and taped the wrap down in to the wrap left up from the wall. A 1×2 tacked on top the 2×12 rafter held the house wrap firmly in place. Then we moved on to the next rafter and repeated the operation. This cabin would be water resistant by the time we were done and not a drop of rain hit the inside to dampen the insulation in the floor.
The wrap on top of the rafters with the 1×2’s on top, will keep the insulation from poofing up and touching the roof, and making it a hot roof with ice buildup in winter. Any space at all between the insulation and the metal roof will allow air circulation and make it a cold roof
. As we wrapped the rafters, the guys were placing nailer strips over the 1×2’s on the rafters, from ladders against the walls. It looks like Roman bought 1×6’s to use to fasten the roofing to. We made a box and fastened it between the rafters to hold the chimney and for the guys to see where to go around with the nailers. We taped the house wrap down inside it and hoped no rain would enter before a chimney was added.
Kara opened the shack at noon and I headed down to see how Will and Shari were doing. As I started out the driveway, they were pulling in. They had come to help on the cabin. Oops, well, they were surprised.
Will asked Roman to mark out where he wanted electric lines and he would put them in for him. Roman went around the walls, marking for outlets and switches for overhead lights with magic marker.
Shari apologized for their being late, she had been barfing up the last years worth of food, she thought and wondered how anyone gained weight when pregnant if this lasted very long.
Shari and I pulled wire as Will drilled holes and placed outlet boxes. As soon as she knew what to do, I went back up and started on helping upstairs.
I tied a nail to a string and tacked it to the upper edge of the chimney box in the roof. Where it hit the floor would be where the hole would need cut for the chimney to come up from downstairs. I sure hope it is between floor joists. Well, it only needs a little bit of adjusting and it will be fine. I draw the outline in magic marker where they will need to cut to put the insulated pipe support piece.
Then Rose and I start on installing the doors. Roman has bought 2 very nice metal clad insulated doors with a window in it. Wow, I have never worked with a new door before. We only have to shim in a couple of spots and it slides right in. We have them screwed in place before the guys even notice what we were doing. Then they yell a little bit that it was too heavy for us to be lifting. Well, fiddle, it is in, isn’t it? Guys. Rose and I grin at each other and just keep on working. It is kind of nice to have guys actually want to do the heavy stuff.
It is a large step up into the cabin, at the front door, so Rose and I bring over a large heavy duty pallet and place it on some flat stones and level it out. Then we add a couple of boards so it only has narrow spaces between boards so no one will go between boards on their way in. When Roman comes around the corner, he thanks us and says he would like to build an entryway porch later, to have a place to hang coats and to cut the wind coming in the door when going in or out of the house.
He has several sheets of T 1-11 siding left over and offers to put it on the outside of the shop Rose has, down the hill as she has never been able to side her shop. Some of the extra house wrap to go under it, too. She is speechless and almost tears up a bit, but then says yes, that would be wonderful. He pulls out 3 sheets to use for his porch and the rest he loads back on his pickup. He says with the trim left from the window cutouts and the walls, he will have plenty for a nice porch now
. Rose, Kara and I will leave the rest of the cabin work to the guys as they don’t seem to mind being on ladders or roofs. With the house wrap over the rafters, the roof will shed light rain and should be okay inside until they can get the roof on. Rose had requested metal roofing as it is pretty much a lifetime roof and fire proof, also. It has a steep enough pitch to shed snow fairly well, also. No one should ever have to get back on it. Rose and I walk over to the shack and talk to Kara a bit. Rose tells her the guys are going to put the leftover T 1-11 siding on the shop for her. We all just stand there, thinking of the difference in people. These 3 men not only said they would do something, they actually got right in and did it. Sometimes they didn’t even say anything, they just stepped right up and started helping.
Rose says the spring is still running very well, even with the dry weather we have been having. She has been able to water the gardens and greenhouses from it and most of the laundry, too. She said it tastes good, also, although she didn’t have it tested. Mine has been doing very well. Shari comes over about that time and she is happy with the small spring they have, too. She said they were digging a small ditch bringing it closer to the house and garden. She was planting wild rose bushes all around the edges of the clearing their house was in. She loved the flowers and wanted to make rosehip jelly and catsup. I think that is a very good idea and I will be planting more around my place, too. Maybe similar to a hedge, even. Some raspberry plants here and there with the rose bushes. Good things to eat and a nice stickery hedge. No down side to that.
Will and Roman flip for who gets to buy us all dinner. Thad says it isn’t too fair to Kara as she still has to fix it for us. She laughs and says she certainly doesn’t mind and what would we all like to eat? We each place our orders and she starts preparing our meals. I could get used to this and very spoiled. I have eaten out more often in the last month than I have in the last several years.
While we are eating, we talk about the next project needing done. Kara needs a woodshed which to me is the most important and then we need to fill it. Will and Shari also need a bigger woodshed and it filled. Rose has most of her woodshed filled, but another stack or two would be good, just to have on hand. I don’t think it is possible to have too much on hand. Also, Roman and Thad should have a woodshed and firewood if they are planning on staying
Roman plans on another trip to town tomorrow morning, early, for materials to finish up the cabin. Insulation, foam board, vapor barrier and plywood. Some light fixtures and electrical outlets, maybe some plumbing stuff, too. He asked if any of us needed anything from town. No one did, so we all said good evening and headed our separate ways.

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The Beginning – Chapter 15

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 15
Rose asks what they expect to have supplied in exchange for working. Roman tells her he is retired and tired. Tired of living in town with nothing to do. Thad wants to spend the summer with his Dad and also, out of town. He is tired of the women wanting to go bar hopping as their idea of fun.
Noah has just finished up his job and no plans made for getting another any time soon. He took the job thinking it would be a nice way to meet folks out along the road system and decide where he would like to settle down and build. Seems as soon as the local folk heard he was from the government, most were less than polite, so that idea wasn’t so great.
All 3 guys wanted an out of town Alaskan experience. Rose said if they really did, they could start by building themselves a place to stay. She said she didn’t have money, she had land and they were welcome to stay on some of it, as long as they were willing to sign a lease and go by her not allowing alcohol or drugs on the place.
Noah asked if he could continue staying in his camper on my place at present and maybe help out now and then, also, on both places. “I guess, although it will be pretty cold come Winter.”
He says by then, his Dad and brother should have a cozy place ready, if he comes and helps out a lot every day or so. His brother smacks him and says they won’t need his help, they are big strong capable men that know how to do stuff, except maybe cook well. Of course Noah smacks him back and soon they were being overaged boys, trying to get the best hold. When their Dad said Boys in that tone of voice, we knew it was something they had heard often in their life and they both instantly stopped. Yes, it looks like they were raised right.
Roman and Thad will stay in Roman’s trailer tonight and then see what needs done to build a nice small place for them to live a while.
Noah comes back to his camper on my place. “I hope you don’t mind, I enjoy staying here and we work well together, I think.” he says.
I have to agree. Besides being nice to look at, he is a lot of help and pleasant company. Without his help, it would have taken me a lot longer to get the firewood and woodshed done. Plus the help from Will and Shari really put me ahead of my self imposed schedule for summer jobs on my place.
I feel bad for Will and Shari, having yet another body show up on their place. I don’t know if they will want to stay in their house yet or not. However, this time, it should not be of interest to the Troopers as nothing pointed to it being involved and they already had all the evidence they had taken when there the last time.
The next day, I go on over to see Rose and Kara. As we talk, I ask if they have all the firewood in that they will need for the coming winter. Rose says she is working on enough for another winter, besides, just in case she can’t get out and do it. Kara still has a little bit left to get for a years supply and would like to finish up her woodshed. I suggest we all come work here a few days to get the immediate jobs done and then go help Will and Shari get their place ready for winter. They have never wintered here and no idea of what to get done. With only the 2 of them and her pregnant, it could be hard on them. Rose and Kara exchange looks and agree. Since we have extra help, we can make use of it. We talk a bit more and decide to see if the men have decided what they want to build and if they would like assistance on it as part of the jobs to do here.
We all head over to the trailer where they are staying and soon we are walking around and looking the area over. Since the trailer is parked in an out of the way area on the old roadbed and it is as compacted as a person could wish for, for building pad, they ask if it is okay to build right there. It would simplify snow removal, also. Rose and Kara snickered and I knew I would have to find out later, why.
Roman liked the shop Rose had built below her house, so they were going for simple, and easy, like it is. They did decide to use 2×6’s instead of 2x4s for the walls like Rose had. She said she would have, too, if she had the money at the time. It is 16’x24’ and 2 story with both stories open and no interior walls to block space. Plenty of room for 2 people to be comfortable as Kara had lived in the shop 2 winters with 3 teenagers, 2 dogs and 8 cats and they all survived it.
The guys drew up a material list and headed in to town to pick up at least enough to start the project. Rose, Kara and I decided to all head over to see how Will and Shari were making out. Also to see if our idea on lending a hand was okay.
Shari was out in the greenhouse when we pulled in. Will was out behind it, weeding a bit in the garden near the greenhouse. They both were wearing handguns which we had all suggested to them a while back. A rifle or shotgun is effective, but hard to carry while working. If you have set it down somewhere while working, it isn’t going to do you any good when you need it in a hurry.
They both looked like they could use a break, so our visit wasn’t too much of an interruption. Shari was having a time with morning sickness and looked a bit peaked. She wanted to learn to sew, so Rose offered to show her how. Hmm, maybe I should sit in. I knew how to sew furs, but not so well on material. Rose said she could show us how to darn socks even, if we were so inclined. Well, maybe. I do have some that could use a bit of help.
Will and Shari were happy to hear our suggestion and offered to come help on Rose and Kara’s projects first, but we said if they wanted to help the guys on the cabin, that maybe half a day instead of taking them from their projects all day. They had helped so much on mine and were far behind on their own stuff. Besides, they had helped on the water project at Rose’s.
As we were pulling back onto the road, Roman’s truck came by. Wow, that was one quick trip to town and it was loaded with building supplies. Those men wanted to get building.
We followed them into the driveway and all pitched in to help unload. Rose had some old pallets sitting over beside the shack, so we stacked boards up off the ground on the pallets.
It did not take long to square out the corners and place the pier blocks they were using for supports. Rose and Kara came back in a few minutes wearing tool belts and I grabbed mine out of the back of my truck. In no time at all, we had the floor laid out and nailed and set on the pier blocks the guys had set in a grid inside the squared area. Roman had bought wire mesh to put under to keep squirrels out of the insulation, so we placed that and nailed it before nailing the 3 sections of flooring in place. We have build it in 3 8’x16’ sections and would nail them together for the 16’x24’ floor. After we had the floor in place, we filled the sections with insulation, then started nailing on the plywood sub floor. In just a few minutes, we had that done, too. Wow, this should go fast with all of us working on it. Roman had picked up a few windows but not as many as he would need for the whole project. He decided where he would like them to be and marked it on the edges of the floor. Then we started on the walls. He had bought T 1-11 siding for the outside, so as we made a section of wall, we placed the window, covered with house wrap, taped, cut the siding needed and covered the wall, then stood it up and nailed. We had the 4 walls done before we all took a break. It looked like a house already.
Kara stopped a bit after we got started to open the shack. She came over with to-go boxes and gave us lunch. When Roman tried to pay her, she said it was just stuff that hadn’t been selling well and she would rather it was used then feed it to the birds or let it spoil. Later, he left a good tip in her tip jar.
After we ate, we built 2 of the upstairs floor sections, by laying them out on the bottom floor and then after assembling them, lifting them up and someone up on a ladder pulling, we got them into position and nailed the sections on both ends of the building. After building a small section of wall, near an outside wall for the staircase to go up, we would use joist hangers to build the center section of the upstairs floor. That small 8 foot section of wall was simple and placed about 3 feet out from the wall for a nice wide staircase. Rose marked out the stair stringers on the 2”x12” boards and Noah cut them out. He nailed 3 foot long 2x4s spaced along them to hold them in place and then placed inside the short wall. We moved the wall a bit to get a snug fit and nailed it all into place. Now, we could go up and down the stairs if we walked carefully on the edges of the stringers. Thad came over with some 3 foot boards and tacked them in place up the stairs so we didn’t have to go tippytoeing on the stringers. Not fancy, but it worked.
Roman got out the joist hangers and we got to work upstairs after placing a couple sheets of plywood down across the floor joists so it would be easier to work. As soon as we had the joist hangers fastened on, the joists were placed and nailed in and the plywood sub floor was handed up and nailed down. Rose was darn good at trimming it even with a chainsaw. She said she did have some experience at it. We were actually ready to start the upstairs walls. Roman was almost in shock. He didn’t have the windows or enough T 1-11 for the upstairs. He was going to have to make another trip to town. The building supply store doesn’t close until 10 pm, so he would just go again this evening. He thought he better pick up some more nails also, since we tend to use a lot, if 1 is good, 3 are better.
I said good-bye and headed for home. Noah was going to ride in with his Dad and Thad was going to stay and go cut firewood for Kara. I think he likes her.

One of THOSE Days…

Lovley Day
Today seems to have been one of THOSE days. I have been under the weather for about two weeks, so when I woke up feeling half human, I thought I would get caught up on a couple of things around here.
I plowed road, one trip around and the Ford plow truck died in Kara’s yard. I took the Toyota home, got it stuck in my yard, pulled it out with the Cheve, went back up later to check their fire and Ford started, so plowed another trip around and some in my yard, and got the plow stuck.
I started to pull it out with the Cheve and noticed the canopy about a foot farther back than it supposed to be. I had pulled Toyota from the front, so pulled the Ford from the back and canopy went about halfway back on, plus all the snow on the roof came over windshield.
I left the Ford and drove up and turned around in my driveway and slammed on brakes coming back down the hill and got the canopy on far enough I could load firewood on tailgate (Could get it open, canopy not sitting on it now) unloaded firewood in the house and porch to rebuild stock out there. Then I came in and took a nap.

The Beginning – Chapter 14, finally

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 14
Will asks if they can borrow my tiller to till between the rows in their garden, so we load it in my pickup and take it over to help out. They ask if we can enlarge the garden area a bit, by just tilling a few more strips around the outer edge of it. About the time we are finished with the new improved garden, the wind changes and that horrible outhouse odor hits us again. I suggest they pick up some lime in town next trip because that is the worst I have ever smelled. They agree. I spot a large bear in the edge of the woods beyond the outhouse, and tell them. They have not seen any around here, except the one I shot the day we met, so they are interested in seeing one. I do tell them a bear can be dangerous and be very careful about any food around the place. Once a bear finds food, they will keep coming back to see if there is more. This bear just stays back in the edge of the trees, not coming closer, and sniffing the air. Then it drops out of sight. We have one more morning of canning to do, so they decide to spend the night as they have been doing and we can get a nice early start in the morning. We stop at the Hit & Run on our way by, and just make it as they are about to close. We offer to just get ice cream so they don’t have to stay longer but they laugh and say they were closing early as they were tired of sitting with no one to talk to. We talk over the thefts that have been occurring around, as there have been a couple more in the area that we have heard about. It seems to only be food and not a lot at each place. Almost like someone is trying not to take too much from any one person. Well, if we must have a thief, it is nice to have a thoughtful thief. I told them about my little occurrence yesterday. Kara starts laughing and says she told the guy the only access to the river was back by the bridge and there were very few, very small fish in it anyway. He had started to drive on past her shack to use their driveway which also does not access the river, and she told him he would probably get shot by her Mom if he continued. He was muttering about inconsiderate people as he backed out and turned around. Well, he certainly was one of those, himself. While we were eating and talking, Roman pulled in with his tool trailer. Oh my, he has a huge enclosed shop type trailer. He could rebuild anything he sets his heart on. Rose shows him where he can park it, and level it so he can use it as a shop. She is going to have a small village here, soon. Seems he has a small room with twin beds in the end of the shop trailer. He used to travel to jobs and stay in the trailer while he worked. He has another guy with him that is helping him set it all up. The guy resembles Roman and Noah a little bit. But he is very tall and lean, not skinny, just not an ounce of fat on the man. He has muscles though, as he lifts the blocks to level the trailer with ease. When they come back over, Roman introduces his son, Thaddeus. Known as Thad. The guy is certainly a nice looking guy. Wonder if he is single? Is he is going to help his Dad? What? He drove a 4×4 pickup out, as pilot car for his Dad’s trailer. They each order a sandwich also, so it looks like a good thing we showed up to keep the shack open later tonight. It will be closer to 8 pm before they can close tonight. While we are all sitting around talking, a Trooper pulls in. He walks over and asks for Will and Shari. Will stands up and walks over to him and they converse in low voices a few minutes. Will looks shaken. He asks the Trooper a question and they walk over to all of us. The Trooper says he was on his way to town when he saw a bear tearing up a small shed up the hill from Will and Shari’s house. He stopped to investigate and the bear dragged something out from the rubbish. From what the Trooper could see, it was a human body. So he loaded his riot gun with slugs and shot the bear. He wanted to know if anyone there would come ID the body if possible. He had called it in and a crew were on their way out to pick up and work the scene. But it looked as though the body may have been there since the day the other body showed up. It was not a pretty sight and may not be able to ID it from the way it looked. Oh my, no wonder that outhouse smelled. I am so glad we had not decided to go use it or check on it. I guess I shouldn’t feel that way, but I certainly didn’t want to find something like that. We all load up and head over to see if anyone knows or can recognize the deceased. The Trooper is right, about all we can tell is that it probably is male. Although Shari says the size is right to be Rod’s twin brother, Rob. If so, that only leaves the friend, Jeremy, on the loose in the area, if he is still in the area. I wonder if that is who is responsible for the food thefts in the area? He must know he is being looked for. I suggest it to the Trooper and he agrees. Later, when the team has searched the area and through the outhouse remains, they find another rifle. Shari can identify the rifle, it belonged to Rob. So tentatively, he is ID’d as Rob. Shari is very nervous and says with their Daddy being a county sheriff back home, that he will be out for revenge when he learns his sons are dead. He was the main problem with her getting help when she had been married to Rod. She went in the house and brought out the paperwork and photos that were taken when Will got her to a hospital the last time and also the copies of her divorce papers. She showed the Troopers and explained what had been an on-going problem and what she was afraid would happen now, with his family. The Trooper said they would keep an eye out and they did not allow such abuse no matter who his Daddy was. We were a somber bunch when we left there. We dropped off the ones that rode with us, at Rose’s driveway and went on to mine. It seemed that maybe Jeremy was protecting Shari from Rod and Rob in a twisted sort of way. Who else would know they were even there, let alone on Will and Shari’s place? Who else could get that close to them, and how did he get so close to both of them, after the first one was down? We proceeded with the canning the next morning and Shari and Will were both confident they could can fruit and vegetables on their own, now. When any of us got meat to can, we would have another lesson on canning, but if they followed the directions in the canner book, they would do okay. We all left soon after the canners were done and they went to their place and I went for a load of gravel for the floor in the ice house. It is thawing enough to be muck soon in there. I put down a layer of plastic and some old rugs I had picked up here and there. The gravel would go on top and the rugs would keep it from sinking in too much. I tacked screen over the vent openings made earlier as the roof was being put on. No reason to be bitten by bugs while working in here. I should have figured out a way for a skylight or a window somewhere, but that would defeat my purpose for an ice house. The gravel pit isn’t too far away, so my load doesn’t take very long to load as I use 5 gallon buckets so I can dump it exactly where I want it. Unloading takes just as long as loading, as I tend to wear out after a while. So I go fix lunch. I start a batch of bread dough while I am in the house. Maybe I won’t forget it today and it will be nice for some cinnamon rolls. These won’t be fancy, just regular rolls. While the dough is rising, after my lunch, I go spread gravel inside the ice house. I think I will need another load to finish the job nicely and some around outside the doorway, also. I go punch down the dough and head for another load. I won’t be able to dawdle on this one. So I really shovel into the buckets. The dough it just right, when I get home, so I park the pickup and go take care of the bread. One loaf and some dinner rolls, then the rest into cinnamon caramel rolls. I make the loaf and the rolls and set them to rise and the oven to preheat. Then flatten out the rest of the dough and spread it with some corn syrup, then sprinkle well with cinnamon and a lot of brown sugar. I cut them fairly thick and place in a well buttered deep sided baking pan with brown sugar and corn syrup sprinkled over the bottom. After the pan is full, I slightly flatten them with my hand and set them to rise. The bread is ready, so are the rolls, so they go in the oven. I think the ice house will feel good, after working in the house and baking on this hot day. With all the sugars, the cinnamon rolls are almost ready to go in the oven so I move things around in there so they will fit. While the breads cook, I go back outside and spread some gravel around in front of the doorway. With the windows open, I can smell the bread baking and soon the cinnamon rolls, also. The smell must have made it quite a ways, because as I am taking them out of the oven, Noah, his Dad and brother pull in. I put 3 hot cinnamon rolls on plates and a dab of butter on top to melt in and hand them each a plate and fork as they walk in the door. Thad looks at his Dad and brother and asks if it is always like this? And why did it take them so long to let him know? Noah’s job is over, it was only temporary anyway. So he is at loose ends. Thad just finished his job as Inspector on a large building project going on at the University in town. Roman is retired, so the guys have the rest of the summer to do whatever they please. They really are pleased to eat good food, so we box up a couple of the cinnamon rolls and head over to talk to Rose and Kara. While we are all eating, the guys offer to help out around both our places in exchange for a place to stay and meals once in a while. Oh yeah, how perfect is this? None of us have had good luck on the folks we thought were going to help us out here. Now 3 gorgeous guys just drop in on us and offer help. I think we can handle that. I know I can. Kara and Rose look stunned as they eat their rolls and the guys managed to each bring a 2nd one with them to eat. Me, I bought an ice cream bar. This calls for a celebration.

Patience Please

TunnelLight
Well, I hope you have patience because mine is down to a nubbin and about to implode.
We have been having internet problems all season and finally may have most of them resolved with a different router system. The Windows8 laptop, that has never worked out here, now does go on-line. None of my files are on it. All files on my old laptop are incompatible since that is Vista. Boy, I really pick the great years to change out laptops, don’t I?
Sooner or later, after I kick this bug that is keeping me on the couch, I will try finding a way to get my files from upstairs down here, where I can maybe pick up the story for anyone still interested in it.
I am not a good patient nor do I have any patience. Dang, not a good combination.

The Beginning – Chapter 13, finally

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 13
I think they must have maxed out credit cards or had a lot of cash on them. The SUV is loaded and then some. Shari has her new canner and lots of #10 cans of fruit and veggies to start learning to can on. She has cases of empty jars and some empty flats from the plants they had bought in town and planted at home before coming over. They planned on planting the bag of sprouted potatoes they had bought, tomorrow. That being the first of June, they should have a good garden from it all.
They had also made an appointment for her to see a doctor to check on the baby. They had already decided to move to town the month before the baby was due and stay until it was about a month old before coming home.
We unload most of the canning stuff into the little shed they are staying in and would bring it over to my cabin as we use it. Maybe a canner load per morning, before we get started on regular chores for the day. They insisted I get half, as I was taking my time to teach them and we finally settled on I supply my own jars.
I was surprised the next morning to see Will ready to learn right along with Shari. Yes, I have revised my opinion of the man big time. He might be a cheechako, but he was willing to learn. I decided fruit would be the best and easiest thing for them to learn. So we re-canned peaches and pineapple. I get out my canner too, so we could finish faster. I started a large pot of water heating to rinse the jars in and put the lids in a smaller pan of water on a back burner.
Soon we had all the jars sparkling and ready to fill. We opened cans and filled jars, wiping the rims and putting the hot lids on and then the bands. We are using the pressure canners as water bath canners for fruit. They work well for this and if in doubt, let the pressure build up to 1 pound before shutting them off at the end of processing time.
We have breakfast while the canners are processing, and then place the hot jars out on towels on my counters to cool, covered with another towel to keep drafts from the hot jars. The hot water from the canners is poured into the dish pans and used to wash and rinse dishes. Then let cool down and would water plants with it after it was cool. When you carry water, you conserve.
The water from the spring I had dug out was slowly inching closer to my garden area all the time, so maybe I wouldn’t have to pack water for that, soon. Then my rainwater system would do most of the water needs for the house during the summer. If the spring cleared up enough, I would be filling buckets for winter and storing them. It didn’t have high volume, but it was steady. Maybe I should try digging out a large enough hole to dip a bucket here closer to the house, line it with river rocks so no mud in it and have that handy. Maybe the next project.
After the canning is done for the morning, I go back to my ice house project. They are amazed at how it is coming together and we set up a bucket brigade and get the rest of the dirt on top much faster than I had been doing it. Then we start on the foliage squares. It is a good thing I cut them fairly small or we would not have managed as well as we do. They have stayed frozen better than the plain dirt chunks because of the plants and root system on them. I put an upside down bucket over the chimney in back before I started the dirt last night and no one even asked about it as we placed the plant squares around the roof. Soon it is ready for the doors and I stuffed a sheet of foam board in the hole and left it there while I rounded up the supplies to make the doors. It is still pretty cold in there and I want it to stay that way.
I have an old insulated metal door down behind the lower storage shed, so go to check on it. I thought it would do well for one of the doors, a homemade one would do for the outer door. I make a frame of 2×6’s to hang the door and another one to drop down inside to keep the door closed. It would work on a hidden latchstring on the wall. I bolted the hinges through the door, so it was fairly sturdy and might keep a bear out unless he was determined. The chimney would be the weak link in this building. I planned on planting some small spruce trees around the edges in back and maybe fairly close to the chimney or at least enough to confuse the outline a bit. Maybe make a couple of metal cutouts to plant there, to look like trees unless checked up close.
That evening, when Will and Shari came back from cleaning on their house, they told me they would probably be able to move back in it in a couple of days. But was it okay to stay until then and continue the canning lessons? I said sure. I was getting used to having them around and hadn’t seen Noah in a few days as he was taking care of his survey farther out and not coming back each evening. I was getting used to neighbors.
After our evening meal, we went over for ice cream and visited with the women there for a while. Roman was due back in a couple of days with his tool trailer and would be parking it there, while he worked on the equipment. He had asked to rent one of the small guest cabins while he was there. Rose said she thought he was earning the use of a cabin with all his work. He told her it was the most fun he had had in years and what was the price for a cabin. We were waiting to see how that turns out.
After visiting a while, we went on over to Will and Shari’s house to see how things were looking in the garden and the greenhouse they have started. It is assembled and ready to plant the plants they have picked up in town. We look it over and talk about how much room some of the plants will need, and set about planting as we talked. We soon have it all planted.
As we walk around the garden plot, the smell of the old outhouse out back, is a bit strong. Guess a person would have to only work out here when the wind was the right direction. There is a newer one closer to the house that is in use now. No wonder they built a new one.
We go back to the house and it is nice seeing it all neat and clean again. They have done a lot of work on it in the last several days.
We talked about their spring and they said they have not had time to do any more work on it yet. But it is on their list. Their list is getting as long as mine. They are excited about doing the work themselves as much as possible. Neither have experience but they figured if I could, so could they.
They want to build an addition onto the house and make another bedroom and a pantry. I always wondered why the folks that built it and lived in it for years never added a pantry, anyway. Living this far from any town could get difficult to get groceries or other supplies if the weather turned bad. We look at the area they want to add on to and check for how it could be added to the roof. There is a window there so that could be the space to put a door. They decide on size and we start a material list for them to pick up in town next trip in. Their house is on a compacted gravel pad so adding to the house should not be a problem.
I go to sleep that night and dream some more about melted chocolate eyes. It doesn’t help that his voice goes right along with the eyes. Dang, that guy can kiss.
Well, that wasn’t exactly a restful night’s sleep. So I am a little grumpy the next morning when I go out to the garden and pick weeds for the chicks. But watching them zoom around their little pen chasing mosquitoes and each other and the weeds I toss in has me in a better humor by the time Will and Shari show up for today’s lesson in canning. They look like they had a rough night also and Shari is still a little green around the edges. Seems morning sickness has struck.
She is feeling fine now and we get right to work on the peas, corn and string beans she has picked up in town. They have to process longer at 10 pounds of pressure but with the canners we have, once they have started timing, we can go outside and do other things until the time is up. She wants to learn to do meat, also, so whenever we get something to can, we will have more lessons. She is amazed at how easy it is.
We built the insulated outer door for the ice house while the canners worked indoors. She uses her cell phone as an alarm and it went off before we were totally done. We go in and turn off the stove and left the canners to reduce pressure at their own speed and back out to finish our project. When we go in about a half hour later, the gauges are down to zero so we take off the rocker weights and open the lids. Again we placed the jars on towels and then cover them and use the hot water for my pan of dishes. The canners are dried out and placed to finish cooling on the cold heater.
We are just coming out of the house when a vehicle pulled into my yard. It is a neighbor from farther up the road and they are upset. Someone has broken into their storage shed and stolen food and some gear.
We all feel a small shock to realize we were becoming complacent about the 2 guys still possibly in the area and the unsolved murder. We all talk it over and no great ideas popped up. They didn’t think it was enough stuff to make a trip to town for, but wanted everyone in the area to know there are thieves or a thief around. They did ask if we would let any Trooper that wandered by, know. We said we would and they headed back home.
We figure we better lock up every time the houses are left unattended. Even if it was just while we are working out of sight of the doors. I think I better fasten a key to my pants pocket or I will be losing mine and have to break into my own house. That would be embarrassing.
Will and Shari head on over to their house and I go back to work on my ice house project. I transplant some small chokecherry trees around the edges of the roof and set some currant bushes near the chimney so make it harder to spot. Moose don’t eat either one, so thought maybe that would help keep them away from the roof. As the small trees grow, I will interlace the limbs to make it more of a fence. Figuring I wouldn’t want them to go up the front area either, I plant more of the small seedlings around the whole place except the door. A few of the seedlings are actual cherry seedlings that grew from seeds and are about 3 years old. I know they won’t grow true to type, but any will be better than none amd make good jelly. I plant all the seeds from fruit I buy in town. Just maybe I will get some apples, pears, plums and cherries that survive the weather here. The moose and voles are my main problem although many of the seedlings die the first winter from the cold. However, a few of each is struggling along.
I pick up my tools and put them away for now. I want to do a bit of work on the inside of the building, build some shelves along the inside walls. I plan on building them sturdy enough they could be used to sit on. I may have to pick up some lumber to make the shelves as all my projects have used up most of the spare stuff I had laying around.
I measure out the spaces I want to build and write down the materials list as I go. It is all short and small pieces, so maybe I can scrounge up enough to do the job.
Pal starts barking and I go check. There is dust hanging in the air from a vehicle that has evidently just backed around the drive out of sight. I hate things like this. Is it just an innocent snoop that don’t believe the driveway signs, checking out the road or is it the rental SUV with the other guys in it from Shari’s ex? Or just some jerk? I am so glad I have Pal, now. He certainly is good at letting me know when anyone is around.
I take the pickup down to check my assorted building materials. With the list and tape measure in hand, it doesn’t take long to pick out what I will need to get started. I have more on hand than I thought I did. After loading the pickup with the pile of materials, Pal and I drive back up to the house. After unloading, we go into the house. The cats are acting jumpy, so I pay close attention and soon spot something moving through the brush and trees out across the yard. Watching closely, I see a man sneaking through the trees. I open the window over the table and fire a shot into my wood pile. The man dives over the bank and I hear cussing and crashing as he bolts down the hill. Anyone sneaking through the woods around here is not my friend. If he had walked right up to the door and knocked, I would not have reacted that way.
Noah pulls in a while later and I tell him to be watching for some guy out in the woods. And that I had fired a shot into the woodpile since he was sneaking through the brush. Noah looks a little funny at that, but doesn’t say anything except to be careful. I’m planning on that.
While I’m working on my shelves, I hear Pal bark again. Dang, Grand Central Station around here. I go out to see what’s up.
A State Trooper vehicle. Hmmmm, wonder what he wants?
It seems the person on my place earlier, called me in. I ask the Trooper if it is illegal to shoot my woodpile. He says it isn’t and I show him where the shot hit, right on the target I have set against the pile. Then I explain the circumstances and also mention the thievery at the neighbors. That and the murder and all my signs around the place should make it open season on snoops. I asked if he had noticed the Private Target Range, Helloooo Target sign at the driveway and he said he did. So why is someone that is sneaking through my woods complaining about me? Because I didn’t hit him? Seems the guy thought it was a shortcut down to the river to fish. He lost a bunch of tackle and his pole when he dove over the bank. Myself, I think it was cheap at the price, I could have hit him, easily. I tell the Trooper, if the man has the guts to come apologize and hunt for his stuff on his own, he can have it back. The Trooper is laughing as he leaves to go check out the theft at the neighbors. I go back to building shelves.
When everyone comes over, later, I tell them about the guy and him calling the police on me. I have seen more Troopers out here in the last few weeks than I have seen out along this road in all the years I have lived here.
They find it hard to believe the guy had the nerve to call me in to the police. He was obviously in the wrong. So when he shows up later, to apologize but with attitude, he is surprised to find I am not alone and my friends think he is an idiot. Shari tells him if he can’t see where he is in the wrong, maybe a load of buckshot in his tail will help him understand. Wow, she is certainly finding herself out here. Then she tells him about the unsolved murder and the thievery in the area and a dim light starts glowing in the recesses of his brain. Then it dawns on him that I could have shot him and been in the right. He about passes out. Will is so proud of Shari, he is about popping buttons.
I do tell the man if he ever sneaks through my yard again, to expect to have a worse reception.

the Beginning – chapter 12, I deleted the Nenana rant I had going

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 12
Oh, I am in so much trouble now. Seems that melting chocolate eyes are in my dreams now. Yeah, he is nice, yeah, he is thoughtful, yeah, he is very easy on the eyes. Hmmm, where is the downside of this? Town job? Wife or girlfriend stashed somewhere? No, he said he wasn’t married, so no wife as I don’t think he is a liar.
Well, those were certainly not my usual morning wake-up thoughts. I better get back to work. Pal and I take the pickup down and load up most of the firewood I have cut. I loaded, he brought me sticks.
My woodshed is looking so much better. It is almost entirely filled, new larger extension and all. I do have the little area inside for pet food and tools, but it is now holding at least 2 years worth of firewood. I grab the saw and go back down. I hate to kill so many trees, but I need to ring them for cutting next year to fill the space of wood used this coming winter. By the time I need to get started on the evening meal, I think I have enough ringed for the next season. Now I can relax a little bit and work around the place on other projects needing done.
I want to expand my ice cellar a bit or build another one which would probably be the best way to do it and not lose the ice I have from last winter. It makes great storage for fresh goods and helps out during the summer. I even have a place picked out to build another one. Mine is quite small as I was in a hurry when I built it.
When I get back to the house, I find an old tarp and drag it over to the area I want to dig out. I measure out the area I want to dig out and start by cutting around the edges with a very old chain and bar on my chainsaw, just in case I find rocks. The chain is beyond sharpening and has missing teeth, so I am not ruining a good chain and bar. Then I cut a grid through the whole area so I can remove each section of cover foliage onto the tarp and replace it over the ice house when I am finished. This is probably not a good use for the saw, but it sure speeds up the job.
I start at the edge of the bank of cut squares and carefully pry one loose from the thawing soil under it. I use the wheelbarrow and move it over onto the tarp. They won’t have to go back exactly as I removed them from the grid, but may fit better, if I am careful with them.
After a while, it is going really well and I have most of the foliage removed when Will and Shari come back from cleaning and planting at their place. They immediately want to know what and how I am doing this new project. So I explain how I am digging it out, making a gravel floor, and building heavy pole wall sections with rough cut boards behind the support poles. A vapor barrier and foam board insulation behind that and another layer of vapor barrier and another of foam board if I can afford it or find more.
The roof will be done the same way, only stronger as moose may walk over it. All the dirt I will dig out will be mounded over top of the whole works, the foliage placed back over it all and left open in winter to freeze as much as possible inside. The entryway will be a double door set up, like a storm lock. An outer door, a hallway and an insulated inner door. I am going to try setting some LED lights along the ceiling of the entryway and inside the room going to a battery setup and solar panels if I can. The gravel floor will be fine for melting ice in Summer.
I will put jugs and buckets half full of water in the room as I get them, so they can all freeze in winter and slowly thaw in the summer, keeping the room as cool as possible. As usual, I will also make an area to store a sleeping bag, tent and some food items in moisture proof containers so nothing molds or mildews and to keep rodents out.
If my home ever catches fire, I don’t want to be stuck out here with nothing in the winter. I don’t mention that I will also stash a gun or two and ammo out here. I like planning ahead for any emergency and who knows what types of emergencies may arise? This bank I am digging into is partly permafrost so if I am careful and speedy on my project, maybe I won’t make it thaw too much and it will help keep my ice house frozen year around. By using the old chainsaw, I am making great progress on digging out the space I want. The dirt is wind blown silt and frozen, so no rocks at all in it. It does work like sandpaper on everything, so I clean and oil the saw very well every time I fill the fuel tank. If I were building a root cellar, I would plan on leaving off the foliage and planting the roof to some nice plants for food.
Will wants to try doing this over on their place and Shari likes the sound of having ice all summer. I tell her for ice to use, they have to cut blocks of clean ice in the winter and store them up on pallets or something so they don’t get dirty on the gravel and insulate them with sawdust or something to keep them frozen and chip off pieces in the summer to use.
I don’t do that as I just keep soft drinks and juice out in mine and my drinking water near the door in it, in the summer. In the winter, my sun porch is cool enough to be a large walk-in fridge and the other porch is a freezer. I can keep some lettuce and greens growing on the sun porch, but not much likes it that cool. But it gives me fresh green food in winter and I do sprouts, too, for a change in my diet.
Will helps carry blocks of dirt to stack on the 2nd tarp I have set out and the hole is going much faster. I decide to slant the floor a bit toward the front, so any possible water will run out instead of pooling inside. My old saw blade and chain are about shot though. This would have taken me weeks at least to dig out by hand, maybe more as I would have had to wait for the ground to thaw and only managed a few inches ever couple of days in depth.
I cut a small trench from the lowest floor area out to the side to make a drain in the floor. Someday, I may be able to pour concrete and it would be easier to place a drain now, than later. I have the pipe, put it in place and put a can over the end sticking up in the floor and another over the outside end, just so we pay attention to where it is.
I mark out where I want the actual walls to go and start notching poles to nail in place for the framework. My stomach starts complaining and only then do I notice it is after midnight and I haven’t even had lunch yet. Twenty-four hours a day of daylight does mix up meal times. No wonder I am so tired and now that I am thinking about it, starved.
I open a couple of jars of white chili and get it heating up and go take a quick shower. I am really looking grungy from today’s work. The white chili is heating nicely, so I cut some thick slices of bread and butter it, then toast it on the griddle. Looks like I need to bake again, tomorrow.
Will and Shari come in just as the bread is perfectly toasted and we all sit down and eat. Shari has decided she wants to learn as soon as possible how to can. She really likes having a meal ready in just a few minutes. I can see we will be doing canning lessons soon.
When I wake up the next morning, I get right on the ice house job after mixing up a batch of bread dough
I have to hurry on this job or the bank will thaw and slough down. I haul all the junk plywood and boards I have piled out back over, and start putting them up on the outside of the pole frame we put together last night. Then I put a good vapor barrier plastic around the walls and then assorted foam board pieces. Then another layer of plastic to keep the foam board from soaking up water although it is claimed that it doesn’t. When I start putting the blocks of dirt back, I try to do it evenly, front, back and each side, so no side gets more pressure against it than another. The blocks are getting soft, so the easy work is about to end.
I remembered the bread dough I had left rising in the house and ran back in. Sure enough, it had over-risen and was flat in the bowl. I punched it around a bit, added some sugar sprinkled on it and hoped it would respond. While in the house, I fixed something to eat before heading back out.
Now came the fun part. Figuring out what type and shape of roof I wanted to put on the ice house. I wanted it to blend in a bit with the surroundings, so decided to try making it shaped a bit of a dome. One last chore for the poor old bar and chain on the saw. I cut out a hole in the middle of the floor, found a nice large flat rock and dropped it in the hole and went looking for a good spruce log. I had a nice 10 foot long one, on pallets behind the woodshed. I drag it over and then found the roofing compound. I liberally coated the bottom of the log with the tarry looking gunk, then wrapped it in some old rags and coated them, also. I tacked 2 2×4’s on the sides of the log, then slowly set the end over the hole and started raising the log.. As it went up, I kicked the 2×4’s along, to act as braces. Once the log was upright, I check it with a level and it isn’t too bad. So I tamp the dirt back around it that was loose inside on the floor, checking once in a while for straight. This is not a beautiful job, but it should work.
I checked on the bread again, and it didn’t look too bad, so shaped it into pans and left to rise again after turning the oven on to preheat. I would have to pay attention this time.
I drag a few more poles over to use on the ceiling, then put the bread in the oven. I take care of the chicks and open the little door so they could go out into the small run I had built for them. They are cautious at first, then all go out. They are starting to get feathers and look lanky. By the time they were all outside, I could smell the bread, so checked it. Still needed more time, so I picked up some in my cabin so it looked neater and put the dishes away. By then, the bread was ready to come out. So put it on racks to cool and went back to work.
Using the step ladder, I put the first few poles up on the post I had placed in the middle of the room. I spiked them in place on top the post, then went around the sides and evenly spaced the ends over the walls. As an after thought, I placed a square box to allow a chimney in future if needed, through the roof and nailed it firmly in place. I put it back by the back wall so it would be inconspicuous. Then I put a small section of insulated stove pipe I had found at the dump in and screwed it in place. While I was at it, I made a couple of vent boxes that I could close up with foam board so it wouldn’t get too warm in there, later.
I crisscrossed the roof with more poles, making it look like some primitive housing project. I hoped it would add strength to the roof, just in case a moose did try walking on it. Then I added some of the junk salvaged plywood and OSB. Tacking it down, here and there. I could walk all over the roof without it sinking in or swaying. I covered the whole works with vapor barrier and tacked it over the sides and ends of the poles after trimming them to length where they hung over. I used some more of the roofing compound around the chimney piece and wrapped the plastic tight against it, then rags and more roofing compound. I used a can of the fire retardant spray foam inside the wooden box against the chimney so it should be insulated okay. I would place a chunk of foam board over and fasten one to the inside of it unless I needed it at some time.
More foam board pieces and sheets on top of the plastic and yet more plastic. Then comes the dirt. My dirt chunks are coming apart fairly well now. So I brought the wheelbarrow over and use it to move most of the dirt up onto the roof. Then it is spread around gently to not puncture the roof materials. I think I will need to plant or build a fence to deter moose. The hooves may puncture, also.
By the time Will and Shari show up from their trip to town, I am ready to call it a day. I am not done, but I can see the end of it soon.