Tuesday, August 29, 2006
For putting in a tile floor! Today was a 15-hour day but we got the tile on the floor. More than 400 beautiful slate tiles in 15 hours. It was pretty much non-stop with just a 20 minute break for lunch and supper. Sam played hooky from work today so we could tile together. I really don't know what made me think I could do all myself in one day except that I have really unreasonable expectations when it comes to, well, everything pretty much. Anyway, tomorrow Sam's back to his day job and I will grout our new floor. It's nearly midnight and I'm knackered so again, no witty repartee. The dogs are good. Bully walked through the wet mortar a few times today in an effort to keep us company and Strider got a little rough with Parker and ripped a hole in her cheek. (It was over a few kibbles on the ground) I popped in a few staples and shoved some antibiotics and a few treats down her gullet and she's as happy as ever. Poor little pooch. We'll see if she's ripped out the staples in the morning.
Oh yeah! I told you all about Sam dropping his cell into the bucket of mortar. Well, he rinsed it off and dried it out and thought it was ok, but this morning the phone kinda went bonkers and just phoning random people. I was sitting here drinking coffee at about 7:30 am and all of a sudden I heard voices coming from Sam's work bag. It was pretty funny.
Here are some pics of the new floor including one of Bully's paw print in the mortar.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Long day. We put the subfloor in today. Something called FibreRock. (FibreROOOCCKK!!) It's fibreglass and cement in four-by-eight-foot sheets. We used mortar and a whole lotta nails to secure it to the plywood underneath. So that's the material we'll put the slate tiles on tomorrow. Sam dropped his cell into a bucket of mortar today. The picture is of him shortly after.
All in all it was a productive and fun day. I definitely enjoyed putting the floor in better than sanding and painting. Things are moving along but the list seems neverending. Not that I'm complaining. It's really cool to see the progress and I can't wait to start moving things in. Anyway, too tired for much else. Photos of 'Sister over the rainbow' and the kitchen area complete with FibreROCK floors.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Whew. So we got the inside of the cabin painted. After a full day of cleaning and masking, we put on two coats Friday night and the last one yesterday. It looks good if we do say so ourselves. Here's a photo of Sam in his white paint suit. Anything and everything got a coating of the clear paint so we were protected. And yes, the jokes were flyin' all night long. Of course, the more fumes we inhaled the funnier the jokes got.
I drove 30 miles out of town yesterday to pick up a dog box for my truck. I'd post a photo of that but someone stole the point-and-shoot digi camera out of my truck a couple nights ago. The dog box has 12 holes big enough to double-load dogs if need be. It has storage in the back and little paw prints painted on the sides. It'll be perfect for transporting the team around to training trails and races. The only problem is that it's a little heavy for my F150. We're now looking for a bigger diesel.
Yesterday, driving home with this thing that weighs about 1,000 pounds precariously tied on the back of my truck was pretty frightening. The back end of might as well have been sitting on the tires and, for those who have never been north, the roads here have many, many bumps because of permafrost. So I ended up doing about 25 mph where the limit is 55 with a long line of cars behind and this box teetering on the back. Oh yeah, the box covered my back lights so I had to use hand signals. By the time I got home my nerves were shot.
Anyway, today we're going to put on the slate tile. This weekend has been nuts. It's not even 8 o'clock on a Sunday morning and I'm on my way out the door. I'll be glad when this project is done. But I'm still having fun. Still having fun. Fun.
Congrats to Margaret (aka Woodward) for getting a freelance gig for Newsweek. Donald Rumsfeld is here this weekend blah, blah blahing about the military and...please don't get me started.
Pictured: a dog named Jack
Thursday, August 24, 2006
We have power!!! Sam finished hooking up the electricity yesterday! So, no more generator. And no more burning hundreds of dollars worth of gas in that damned generator. Now we can, we can....use things that.....um, require electricity!!! Yipppeee! Ok. Am I overdoing it? Yes. I think I am. But it is still very exciting and little Sam had to crawl under the house and tinker and then the dog had crawl under there to see what Sam was doing and so on and so forth. Of course, Sam makes it all look so easy.
Not much else to say. The dogs are good. It's really getting cool here. Down to freezing at night. Summer's gone. Winter's here. That's it, that's all.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
The weather has remained cool and rainy. I fear that summer is indeed over. It’s really cool, almost gets down to freezing, at night and we haven’t had sun in some time. Sam says we’ll have one last warm stretch before the snow flies.
This morning Sam and I are going to finish up the electricity and then on Friday, Saturday and Sunday we'll finish the interior treatment and the slate floor. Then the cabin will be ready for a wood stove and cabinets, which should be ready early next week.
Sarah Pallin won the primary for the conservatives last night and Tony Knowles won for the democrats.
Anyway, must get to work.
Monday, August 21, 2006
'But (senator Ted) Stevens said his primary concern is how to fund renewable energy projects in the state, because they offer little return profit. That’s why Alaska’s more well known resources should not be downplayed when touting renewable sources. Specifically, he said, he’d like to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration and commit 10 percent of that revenue to alternative energy sources.
“Then we wouldn’t have to go to Congress every year and ask for money,” he said.'
This in a story that appeared in the News-Miner today written by friend Margaret. The senator and gov. Frank Murkowski (both staunch republicans) were at the energy fair yesterday to yakity yak yak. (Speaking of which, I got a flier in the mail the other day that read: If moose could vote, they'd vote for Frank Murkowski.)
Welcome to Alaska folks! Stevens wants to open up ANWR to oil drilling to fund renewable energy projects. Gawd. This place. Where the hell am I? And the bit about going to ask congress for money? This is the guy who got more than 400 million federal dollars to build two bridges in Alaska. One is the infamous 'bridge to nowhere.' (a $200 million project from a tiny AK town to an even tinier one.)
These are just a couple of our elected officials in this good ol' boys' club. I'd like to wrap up this post/rant with a couple more quotes from Sen. Stevens who is, for those who don't know, the chairman of the senate commerce committee, the committee that regulates e-commerce. These quotes were spewed earlier in the summer, but are just too funny. This is the man that Alaskans have continued to re-elect for nearly 40 YEARS! This is uncle Ted speaking before congress on the proposed net neutrality act.
"The internet is not something that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's, it's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand that those tubes can be filled, and if they're filled when you put your message in it, it gets in line, it's gonna be delayed by anyone who puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material."
These are not typos. This was his argument against net neutrality. Yikes. Oh yeah, the primary is tomorrow.
See more on the energy fair at www.yourownpower.comPeace.
So yesterday I helped out Gwen and the first-ever Renewable Energy Fair at Chena Hot Springs. The weather was crap but there was a great turnout considering the rain and the fact that it was an hour out of town. I ran a little bagel kiosk. It was actually really fun. I've never been a waitress or server before so to do it for one day was good. Plus, everyone was in a really great mood and therefore so was I. Even when they shut off my power (at the energy fair, go figure) and I could no longer toast the bagels or make coffee or tea, people still came around to chat. I learned a valuable lesson yesterday: sometimes, not often but sometimes, it's fun to be nice to people.
My friend Kelly the Crowe from Whitehorse got married this weekend. She got hitched. She tied the knot. She's got (or has become) the ol' ball and chain. I'd put a picture of the wedding on the blog, but I fear a letter bomb from Whitehorse would follow. Can I say bomb on the blog? This person who lives here got her blog flagged for cursing too much and when her boyfriend tried to access it at a public library from down south, he couldn't. A message came up that said the site was too explicit, or something like that. I wonder if my blog is flagged? For what, I don't know.
The cabin is coming along. Unfortunately we have water coming in along the beams that join the upstairs balcony to the house. Believe me, I already had a little meltdown when I went to prepare the logs for treatment and saw the water. But, it's not much and it's an easy fix. Tom and I worked for 14 hours on Saturday cleaning the logs and getting the first coat on the upstairs. That's the first of three coats and now I'm doing it alone, so it's going to take FOREVER. I'm hiring someone to do the downstairs because painting the walls, ceilings and floors WITH A FOAM BRUSH (to avoid the bubbles a roller would create) will take a lifetime. So Painter Pete will come this week with his skookum spray gun and blast the inside of the cabin. I'll finish the upstairs however, so that should keep me busy for a few days.
I hope. That's the plan, anyway.
The dogs are good. Here are some pics of Sister. She likes to beat up my boys. She took down Sneaky Pete, Bull and Strider in one fell swoop. They had no idea what hit them, but they sure did run away quickly. I knew I'd like her.
Here's Sister licking her chops after taking a big bite outta Bully's arse.
This is Daphney (and Bull, he's such a camera hog). Daphney is one of the rescued dogs.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Yesterday evening, we had our Conex delivered. A conex is a large (40 feet long) steel storage container that you see on trains. They're very popular here for storing things and perhaps even living in. We're not going to live in ours...it stinks...but it will take the place of the tarp city we currently have at our old cabin. So, Adam, the truck driver, was nearly an hour late but when he did arrive he was very accommodating and eager to drop this two-ton Tessie wherever we wanted it. One of the first things that Adam said to us was: 'I can put this thing any place you folks want. I can squirt it 10 feet or so off the end."
As soon as the words 'squirt' and 'ten feet' came out of his mouth, I knew we were in trouble.
Adam, a surprisingly young guy, was a little squirrelly and at one point had the Conex teetering off the back of his semi. Adam ran behind it, kicked a big piece of wood that one edge had come to rest on and sent the whole thing rolling right for him. Sam grabbed him by the scruff and yanked him out of the way. That's when I had to go away, because I simply couldn't watch the guy get smushed. It all ended OK, except for the fact that Sam threw out his back. He's a little better today, but he could hardly walk (he looked like the hunchback) yesterday. Poor guy. Here's a pic of Adam and the Conex.
Sister is adjusting to life on Farmer's Loop. She and Bully have really taken a liking to each other. She likes to hump him. He likes to try and pee on her. It must be love. The other pups are doing well too. A little waterlogged because of all the rain here, but good.
Yesterday, Tom (my hobo, seen eating pizza below) and I sanded while Olaf and his friend Shaun came by to install the final windows. This was Olaf's official last day. He is done. It was kind of sad. I've gotten used to his snide remarks and German accent. We got pizza and gelato for lunch and I picked up a little thank you gift from Sam and I. Auf Wiedersehen, Olaf!
Let's see, what else?
Oh yeah, Ken and Gwen are currently in the process of charging the junior musher with neglect. Animal control has been out to said musher's kennel and seized two dead dogs, one of which was still on the chain, the other tossed in the bushes. Sick. Gwen has also been writing letters to all the races informing them of what has happened and asking the race managers to ban her from any and all events in the future. Word has spread like crazy here. I went into one of the feed stores a couple days ago to get dog food and they were talking about it in there.
Better get going.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I found a hobo today and Sam let me keep him! Whooopeeee! A hobo named Tom just for me. Ok, so he's not really a hobo, I just like that word. Say with me; Hoooobooooo. Very good. Tom is a teacher/journalist/carpenter/carny who was in Fairbanks working the rides at the state fair. He's going to make his way south to Palmer for the next round of fair-tastic fun, but in the mean time was looking for some day labour and sleeping in his truck. He's from Haines, Alaska, and my gal pal John knows him quite well. I hired him to help me sand the cabin and told him he could sleep in the Nomad for a few days. (I will stay at our old cabin with Sam, not in the Nomad with said hobo.) There's a voice that keeps on callin' me. Down the road, that's where I'll always be. Every stop I make, I make a new friend. Can't stay for long, just turn around and I'm gone again. That's the theme song from a great, great Canadian TV show called 'the littlest hobo.' It was about a vagabond German shepherd who traveled around Canada saving the day. The Canuck Lassie, if you will.
ANYWAY, he's a damn hard worker and is more than willing to do all the crappy jobs that neither Sam nor I want to do for, get this, ten bucks an hour! Pretty good, I'd say.
If I show up at the new cabin in the morning and everything's gone, I'll admit it was a bad decision. But until then, I'm patting myself on the back.
Today we sanded and sanded and sanded. Our hair, clothes, eyes, ears, everything were covered in dust. I started wearing a mask because sucking that stuff in for eight hours a day sent my lungs into a sputtering rage. (yes, I smoke the occasional ciggy, but the lungs are used to that by now).
I picked up the last three windows today and Olaf will return tomorrow (sans Cim) to install them and collect his last wad of cash from us. For my hobo and me, well, it's more sanding tomorrow.
Sam's making some popcorn. The slop bucket just overflowed and Sam's swearing like a trucker in a snowstorm....ahhh, the perils of living in a waterless cabin. He burned the popcorn. He's making more. Maybe this will be my new blog format. Bull's curled up on the couch. Sam's puttering whilst waiting for the corn to pop. (It doesn't take much time to putter in a 12x20 cabin.) Obviously I have nothing more to say.
WAIT! There is more. I forgot to say more about where Kluane Kennels came from. For a brief stint in his impressionable pre-pubescent years, my father lived in Destruction Bay, Yukon, on the shores of Kluane Lake. My grandfather worked on communications for the Alaska Highway construction and my granny learned how to make bannock (native bread). My dad was just a tyke but remembers fishing in Kluane Lake.
Ok, that's all.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Soggy Bottom Kennels just sounds too much like sh***y diaper kennels...sorry Kel. The other option was ISKA Balls Kennels which is an inside joke that I just can't explain because it's gross. John and I brainstormed on the way out to Windy Creek Kennel this morning on our way out to pick up Sister and we both agreed that Kluane Kennels is simple and nice sounding.
Kluane comes from the Tlingit for 'whitefish country' it's the name of a lake in the Yukon and the name of the national park in the Yukon where Mount Logan is. That's Canada's highest peak. Anyway, the park is beautiful, the lake is beautiful and I like it...so there.
Sister is chillin' at the pad and seems content.
Anyway, that's it for now.
Monday, August 14, 2006
My parents are back in Ontario. Hurray! But seriously, it was a good visit and Cliff and Jennifer (or Jen-er-fer as my dad calls her) were very generous and helpful. That last week they were here, Sam and I were going to take them rafting, but when my dad saw how stressed Sam and I were about the house, they volunteered to stay in Fairbanks and help. So we put them to work sanding the inside of the cabin. My dad and Sam also worked on the electricity. (everyone out there in cyber land raise your left hand, make a fist, now stick out your thumb and forefinger and form the letter C with those two fingers...done? We're THAT close to having electricity. Exciting.
We've chosen slate tiles for the first floor. Sam goes back to work this week so my goal is have the inside sanded and treated by Friday. Then I can get the outside ready for the professional painter dude and start on tiling the floor.
OK. So, I've acquired a new dog. She's a feisty four-year-old named Sister. She belonged to Ken and Gwen who sold her to a junior musher this spring. Sister was Gwen's main leader in the race in France earlier this year.
So, yesterday Gwen and Ken get a call from another junior musher saying that they should be concerned about the welfare of the dogs at this particular kennel. Gwen went there immediately and was horrified to see the condition of the dogs. Among other things that I won't get into, the dogs were grossly underfed and very thin. Gwen and Ken called animal control repeatedly and are moving to press charges of animal cruelty. Animal control never did show up so Ken called the mayor. Gwen staked out the house waiting for someone to come home. When the young mushers mother pulled in, Gwen confronted her. The mother said she has little to do with the dogs and never goes back to the kennel. Gwen took her back there to show her what her daughter had done to the dogs. Anyway, Gwen phoned me to ask if I could help her find homes. I said I could take one (sister) and friend bob has temporarily taken two so he can nurse them back to health. As for the others, well, I haven't heard from Gwen today so we'll see what has happened. Stay tuned. If anyone is looking for sled dogs let me know.
More sanding today...
Friday, August 11, 2006
WEDDINGFEST...more photos from the wedding party on Saturday.
So. My parents, Sam and I are now sanding the inside of the logs to get them ready for treatment. We just wanted to sand off the scuffmarks and pencil marks, but because the logs have yellowed some from being in the sun, we now have to sand every stinkin' log. (I said stinkin' log)
My parents have been a big help and we're definitely on our way to moving in by mid September. You all know what that means....house-warming party! Maybe would hire the wedding band again. OR We have a friend whose name starts with S and ends with teve. (last name Brown) who enjoys 'entertaining' at gatherings. Of course by entertain I mean play guitar....This story's going nowhere.
But I digress.
I got an email from my old roommate in Finland. Her name was (I guess it still is) Anna (I called her Anna Banana which of course she loved). Anyway here's the first line of the email (sorry Anna, I have to share this)
"hi jillie-beanie! just wanted to say hello to my good old roommate, who was so nice never to snore and who taught me some of the most important and useful english words (e.g. doorknob, douchebag,...)."
In German, douche means shower so when I started saying douchebag, some were quite perplexed. I also taught useful and important things like: the phrase ass clown, how to attach your own words into the worst North American Christmas song AND I taught a few how to play cribbage. Oh yeah, and I taught the very useful (in any situation, really) word skank. I am of great importance. I know. I shall travel the world sharing my wisdom. The photo above is of Anna, who, when she wasn't mushing dogs, always had her nose in a book.
Anyway, thanks to you Anna and Marco for teaching me important things like 'Ich bin charf' 'I am hot (horny). Which I think I announced at the dinner table one night...and that time we were sitting upstairs and I was working on pronunciation, and I mispronounced (as usual) and said I had a sheep up my ass. Good times learning German in Finland.
(Photo below is by Sam's brother Jon. The salmon are running thick in rivers around Alaska)
Anyway, I got a press release from Gwen and after years of hard time and labour, this girl has done it!
Good Afternoon,Chena Hot Springs/Chena Power and United Technologies would like to announce thesuccessful commissioning and startup of the first geothermal power plant inAlaska. This project represents a major milestone in the utilization of lowtemperature geothermal resources. Please join us on August 20th for theofficial ribbon cutting ceremony and dedication of this power plant. We arehosting the 1st Annual Chena Renewable Energy Fair on August 20th to celebrateour grand opening. The Fair is free of charge and offers workshops, site andproject tours, vendors, and free food and transportation from Fairbanks. Joinus on August 20th! For more information on the Fair or the power plant, visitChena's project website at www.yourownpower.comThe Chena Hot Springs geothermal power plant is currently operating as the baseload for the site, and United Technologies representatives are on handcompleting performance tests by varying the hot and cold water flow rates. Thepower plant has been running flawlessly.The Chena power plant is running off 162.5F hot water from a 700ft deep well. The cooling water source is from a cold water well at a higher elevation thanthe power plant, and is delivered via siphon (gravity feed). This means nopump needed to move the cold water through the power plant, reducing theparasitic load on the plant.Chena Hot Springs would like to thank our partners in this project, including: United Technologies, United Technologies Research Center, CarrierRefrigeration, the Department of Energy, Alaska Energy Authority & AIDEA, andThe Denali Commission.We hope to see you on August 20th!Gwen HoldmannVP, New DevelopmentChena Hot Springs Resort(907) firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Well, weddingfest was a big success! We had about 40 or so people who came from far and wide to help Sam and I celebrate. The keg was pretty much gone the next day so we consider that a good party 'round these parts. My sister, Sam's brother and sister-in-law and his mother have all gone back to their respective homes though my parents continue to linger and will for another few days. The party was an interesting mix of young and old with people from many different walks of life. Dog mushers, professors, students, engineers...you name it. We had friends play music before and after the bluegrass band - even my sister got in on the action, belting out her own skewed rendition of a Johnny Cash tune. Sam's bro Jon played a mean guitar with friend Steve and sang a Bob Dylan tune. The Harrels are truly a talented family. Sam's mum made us a beautiful cake and we even walked away with some great wedding booty. Thanks to all for all the lovely gifts and cards (a special shout goes out to my peeps at the Yukon News for the thoughtful gifts and sentiments). We got cash and gift certificates which will really come in handy with the new house, a phenomenal painting by my favourite artist, wine glasses, several bottles of champagne, a moose antler crib board, a beautiful wind chime...etc etc. Perhaps the most unique gift was a ceramic Santa Claus fondue set. (More like FUNdue!) Thanks Bob, I think my parents want to adopt you.
My leg is healing up nicely and wearing a skirt at the party made for some easy access to show anyone and everyone my war wound. (Sam's nickname for me has gone from crash to slash)
Olaf and Cim are done with the house for the moment. They put in the door to the upper balcony today and with the stairs in, all that remains are the three upstairs windows, which aren't ready yet and therefore can't be installed. They'll come back next week to finish up. Meanwhile, Sam, my parents and myself will work this week sanding the logs and getting them ready to be treated inside and out. We ordered our kitchen cabinets today and picked out lighting and slate floor tiles.
As a wedding gift, Sam bought me a Smith and Wesson .22 revolver. I'll need a handgun for running dogs this winter as the moose around here are ornery and have known to kill dogs by stomping through teams on the trail. A .22 isn't powerful enough to kill a moose or even injure it, but I need to start small, as I've never fired a handgun before. Welcome to Alaska, baby!!!
We went to the range today in between errands, but I couldn't fire it. Instead I got a sudden wave of nausea, started crying and announced that we had to get out of there immediately. When Sam first gave me the gun I was really happy, but when I tried to actually shoot it, I couldn't. What the hell is up with that? I never thought a gun could provoke such a spectrum of emotions. I will learn to use it because I've been advised by several musher friends that the moose are especially abundant on trails near our house and the beasts won't hesitate to not only stomp through a team of dogs, but a musher as well.
Anyway, we'll be working on the house for the rest of the week and recovering from a whirlwind family visit.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Well, the day is here. Weddingfest. The salmon is smoked, the keg is on its way and the ribs are ready for the smoker. The cake is made, the outfit picked, the band is lined out, let's see what else? Thanks to everyone for everything. The help, the gifts and cards, we really appreciate it all. It's 8 am Saturday morning and as I write this, it's cloudy. Looks like rain. Bummer. Well, at least the blue-tarp brigade is ready to jump into action if need be. Family and friends came over last night for a pre-party party. Trish and Graeme made it from Whitehorse and my sister arrived earlier in the week from Ontario.
Olaf and Cim started the stairs yesterday and got the entry-way wall up. (the only wall in the cabin) They'll be finished by Tuesday.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
BECAUSE...you never know when you're going to nick yourself with a chainsaw and end up in the emergency room with your bloody pants on the floor, a friend on one side, a nurse on the other and a really cute doctor sewing up your leg. Yes friends, this happened to me yesterday morning. I got up early to start clearing the dog yard. I put on my work gloves and eye protection, plugged in my Ipod and fired up the chainsaw. Things were going really well. I'd cut a few trees then stop to pile them up. It was a cool morning and no one was around. Sam and the family have taken a road trip and the builders hadn't arrived at work yet. I cut a little tree and then moved the chainsaw to my other hand while guiding the tree to the spot I wanted it to fall. Well, when you take your finger off the trigger, the saw doesn't stop. HA! I've been meaning to get chaps (protective pants) for a while but never got around to it. The chain snagged my work pants and got sucked in...TO MY THIGH. Let this be a lesson to all. When using a chainsaw, take all the proper precautions. But if you're stupid like I am, at least eat a few donuts. Yes, it's sad but true; my flabby thighs saved me from hitting the muscle buried deep in the fat. So. Fat thighs are a GOOD thing. Anyway, I stayed pretty calm considering the situation and considering that it's, well, me, and called a friend. He took me to the hospital and Margaret met me there a short time later. All told I got a couple dozen stitches. They sucked all the wood out of the wound and cut some of the more gnarled pieces of flesh away before suturing a tidy little line. The adrenaline and Novocain wore off pretty quickly and so I'm on a steady diet of advil. (Beer with Becky, Rachel and Lisa helped last night too.)
Funny, I walked out of the hospital and had Margaret drive me to Rod's Saw Shop. I told the guy I need some chaps. He looked at my bloody pants and agreed. He actually gave me a discount when I told him what happened. Funny. Anyway, the windows and a door are in. I have a guy coming to help me finish clearing the land today so I must go. And remember kids: play safe. And also remember when you fall of the chainsaw get right back on...or something like that.
Oh yeah, I was taking pictures while they were stitching me up but I haven't figured out how to get them from my camera phone to the blog so stay tuned. The doctor was getting really annoyed with the camera in his face but I couldn't resist. Plus, my adrenaline was pumping so hard I could have probably picked up the doctor and run around the block with him under my arm like a football, so I had to focus my energy on something...I chose photos.