Monday, January 16, 2012

Still Ticking

"Partly cloudy. Patchy ice fog. Lows 30 below to 45 below. Light winds."

Pretty much sums it up ;) Seriously, we get B-grade horror movie effects every time we open the door as the warm interior vapor rapid chills and forms a thick layer of fog across the floor when the cold air rushes into the living room. It's trippy.

We've been staying inside warm and cozy unless it's absolutely critical to be out and about. Even then, we try to limit it to as short a time as possible. Getting bits and pieces of projects done a little at a time... mostly depending on whether it's warm enough for the generator to run, or the truck to start. The poor ATV is hibernating, even a warm freshly charged battery and plugging her in on the generator won't get or keep her running most days. Not to mention that I keep having to either dig building materials out from underneath 4-5 feet of snow, or whatever I need is buried and hiding somewhere in the crap we have stacked up all over the house.

I truly loathe living in an active work space, and working in an active living space. The first 90 minutes of every project is moving everything "domestic" out of the way and gathering up/moving in all of today's materials so you can work. And the last 30 minutes, at least, are spent putting all the work stuff away somewhere and re-establishing domesticity so you aren't reaching over a 5 gallon bucket of paint while you're making dinner. Considering that we only have about 5 hours of sunlight these days, it doesn't leave a lot of time to get anything done that requires light and power tools. We can either have lights bright enough to work or have big power draws, but not both!! And I really don't want to try doing precision finish work with a headlamp or a handheld battery-op saw.  I admit it, I am just not that good (or maybe I'm just that OCD heee!).

We gotten the joy of being trapped inside the house because the doors froze shut. Not just a teeny bit of seasonal swelling, but actual creepers of ice sealing the jamb. T'was very special... we needed a heat gun, jimmy bar and deadblow mallet just so Ripley could go out for a pee LOL!  I think before next winter we'll need to get a different heater, and possibly a different stove, because the "unvented" models we have now are putting out just a teeny bit too much humidity (they're safe indoors, just create water vapor). Since the rest of the house is so tight, the condensation is icing up the windows and doors something chronic. Of course, we'll (hopefully) have everything properly installed, insulated, caulked, and painted as well as the arctic entry porches built... which should all help immensely. It will at least move the condensation and frost zone out a couple feet. Heck, I might even have curtains up next winter... gasp!!!!!

With any luck, I'll at least have the kitchen, pantry and bathroom squared away before break up. If I'm really lucky, it'll be done before it warms up enough for engines to run properly and we need to focus on getting in next year's wood. Because, really, the disorganized mess is driving me totally bug-nuts. Having Aspergers, I don't usually get cabin fever like "normal" people because I like to spend time cooped up by myself, but I do get a little freaked out when things in my space aren't organized and put away properly. (OK, a lot freaked out, so I'm spending a lot of time rocking in my recliner while window-shopping for organizers and pantry canisters online in an attempt to self-soothe).

But, all in all, we're doing well. Hanging in there and taking it a bit easy this winter now that we aren't freezing our tails off in the tent ;)


BSV said...

I am SO glad to hear from you at last. I mean, you started this blog a couple of years ago, and you got some of us hooked and all, and then you sort of sailed away for a while, leaving us hanging.

I know you didn't mean it that way, and I know that you live in an - um - sort of challenging spot. But, damnit, some of us are living your adventure vicariously and you owe us -- know what I mean!? We need some posts a bit more frequently.

That said, we can now check off the possibility that bears ate you (they hibernate this time of year anyway). It is good to learn that ice fog is at the forefront of the problems you face. They deal with that routinely over in Fairbanks. I've spoken to some commercial pilots about that and they know how to deal with it.

I would not like to have what happens to you happen to me when I open the door to the outside. But that's why I live in Central Texas. On the other hand, I have to pay property taxes and deal with an intrusive federal, state and local government. You guys are in the last and perhaps final frontier. The government will have to stretch a bit to make things difficult for those of you in bush Alaska. You made the right call for sure, in case you ever wonder about that. I just wish I were 20 years younger, in which case I would do something similar -- but in the non-permafrost zone to your south.

You guys are crazy. But you know that. We love you and wish you all the best. Please keep us posted at a bit more frequent intervals.

Thanks from a friend.


Ellen said...

Really glad to hear that things are going as well as can be expected up there and that you are finally able to take it easy a bit this winter.

Take care.

lynn said...

Yeah, love to hear the updates, I have missed hearing all the building news. Glad to hear that projects are progressing. I too so hate to work around household mess, I want everything cleared out. I learned this lesson many years ago watching my parents house be built arond me. Molding went unfinished. There would be big uproars by my mother and everything would get tossed out of a room and my Dad would fianlly finish a project. Many of my childhood toys still have splatters of ceiling paint. My Mom would love to say, "a cobblers children go without shoes, a mason's family goes without front brick steps, a carpenter's home goes with molding."
Keep warm and keep on writing. Denise

Velma G said...

Thumbs up to NOT freezing your tail off this winter..... :D

Velma G said...

I subscribe to the Canadian Workshop and after reading you blod was reading my email. :) This was in my inbox "Window condensation, eco-friendly insulation, and more" I immediatly thought of you.... Dont know if it's relevant but hth!

Plickety Cat said...

@BSV - haha, no we haven't been eaten bears or held captive by Guido the psycho penguin or become arctic-pops out in the snow somewhere ;) Good to know that folks are looking in on us, even if only in the Cyber-world!

@Ellen - even though I feel a bit guilty about being so "lazy", I think we really needed the extended break of not really doing much this winter. Burn out can be a serious problem, and I think why many folks fail before they reach their goals. You just can't push forever, sometimes you have to give yourself permission to be a slug.

@Denise - life would be easier if both our generators would run at the same time, then we could have lights and power tools at the same time which would mean finishing a project wouldn't disrupt the house as long and we could probably deal with something awkward being in the way for a day or so. Alas, this is not so... an electrical engineer's family goes without completed power systems LOL.

@Velma - thanks for the link, it was an interesting article. I would love to get an HRV system to deal with the moisture, but we can't afford the power. I think switching out the heater and cooktop will help enormously next winter as we can see a huge increase in the condensation levels on days when we're mostly running the heater instead of the woodstove.We're also considering some sort of low-tech venting, since it's often plenty warm when the fire is going to lose a little heat without suffering too much.

Sam.... said...

Yeah - what BSV said!

Just wanted to add my 2 cents that I'm glad you guys are doing ok.

Stay warm!

Sue Sullivan said...

Yeah, what Sam said! :) I, too, am happy to read that you are still engaged in such an epic (and arctic) lifestyle adventure.

Glo D said...

Very much enjoyed reading this post as it rings such a bell with me! Keep it up!