Thursday, November 12, 2009

11-05-09: Help me, Ralphie!

Just a few ruminations this morning while I wait for the tent to heat up enough to leave Charlie alone while I'm out foraging more firewood.

Don't, I repeat, don't ever put anything metal that has been outside for more than 15 minutes in your mouth when it's below freezing. Yes, this seems like common sense... We've all heard the horror stories about licking the flagpole. But when you're outside working, especially alone when it's getting dark, you sometimes forget that your lumber marking pen has a metal clip on it; or that the snaps on your coat are metal. It's just second nature to pull the pen cap off with your teeth or to nudge your jacket out of the way with your face. So, now I have two frost burns on my lip and a raw spot on my tongue where I had to yank the frozen pen cap from it.

The same goes for picking up anything metal that's been outside with your bare hands. I had taken a bunch of shelf brackets out of the shed and set them inside the front door. A couple minutes later, having taken off my gloves, I tried to grab them off the floor and they bit me! Luckily, no permanent damage was done to me or the brackets while I frantically waved my hand around to get them to let go. I remembered my lesson when I brought the chainsaws inside!

Yes, you heard right… I brought the chainsaws inside. You might be an Alaskan if you have a chainsaw in your living room and you have to start it inside before you go out (it's not that cold yet, but not far from it). I also brought the chain oil inside since it was about as viscous as blackstrap molasses which couldn't possibly be lubricating the chain all that effectively. Pretty soon we're going to have to start bringing the generator inside when it's not running.

I was supposed to do Deadite Patrol yesterday, but it was 6F with 20 mph winds and the tent would barely stay above 50F… so I made the executive decision that it might possibly be more beneficial to dip into our "insurance firewood" and continue putting up the insulation to keep in some of the heat we're making rather than near freeze to death to make more heat that the wind will just suck away.

Can I just say how incredibly difficult it is to manhandle 4x8 sheets of 3-inch thick foam board by yourself when it's seriously windy outside? This stuff only weighs about 2 lbs; but when the wind is pushing against it, you need the strength of Samson to keep it from flying away or pushing you over. And then there is the fun part of trying to maneuver the sheets around inside the tent with one person and a low ceiling. I made all sorts of creative use of spare lumber and household goods to make a deadman to hold sheets in place while I zip-tied them to the tent frame. Which, by the way, also sucked because the wind was blowing so hard that the tent kept jiggling and knocking things over and out of square… not so bad when I was working on a wall, but really not cool when I was doing the ceiling panels. I, unfortunately, did not get as much done while G-man was in Fairbanks as I'd hoped… but at least the bathroom is entirely done and I've gotten the western corners started. Hopefully, things will go a bit faster when he gets back and there's two people on the job.

OK - the tent is finally above 60F, time to bank the fire and go scavenge wood! At least the sun is out and the wind is only gusting around 12 mph (seriously, those NREL guys who said there wasn't enough wind here for turbine generators were smoking something!).


The Husqvarna wouldn't start (it's Gungnir's and doesn't like me) and the Shindaiwa doesn't work as well on big or frozen stuff… but I managed. I sawed and I hauled, and sawed and hauled until my arms were sore, and sawed and hauled some more… at least until I came upon fresh bear scat and then I decided that I had enough wood for today (and if not, I'd just have to make it last). It's hard to know how much firewood you really have when it's still in tree form in all different diameters and lengths. So much easier to tell once you've bucked it all and stacked it; but by then it's a bit late to tell whether you need more since it starts getting dark around 5 these days.

I accidentally left the pee-tainers on the deck (meant to empty them before I started), but they're frozen solid now… oops! And I was going to have a PB&J for lunch before I start bucking the firewood… but the jam is frozen too. Looks like we're going to have to start bringing in the "fridge" cooler now as well. I think I might be able to rustle up some Spam if I contort myself around the foam panels that still need to be installed in the pantry. Hmmmmm… it would sure be nice if G-man got home from Fairbanks soon.

No comments: