Category Archives: construction

First Frozen Pipe

It was -18F this morning, and I received my first frozen pipe call of the season at 8am. My response was “that it wasn’t cold enough yet for frozen pipes. What are you going to do when it drops to -50?”

“Well, you’re going to fix the problem long before it drops that far,” she replied.


So I spent much of the morning re-insulating the offending closet with the water lines & wrapping the pipes. I feel like I’m never going to get this siding job finished.

Blues Along The River

It was a beautiful day to be outside, building a deck, with the waters of the Chena flowing by. Even the sound of joyriders buzzing up & down the river on their airboats didn’t dampen the good mood. I had the iPod plugged into the job radio shuffling along, when the cabin owner showed up to, “Clean up around the place”.
I assumed that it was her attempt to simply help out, but all she really did was slow me down with endless questions and constant attempts at chit-chat. As it stands, most of what she cleaned up, I’ll have to go over anyway, before we spray the insulation.
Recently, she has started to make several visits to the jobsite, shared her thoughts on still being single, and often mentioning “going out to dinner”, while being vague about who she expects to join her. I’m starting to sense that she has ulterior motives to showing up at my jobsite. However, I’m quite content to remain in the role of Contractor to the Broken Hearted. The pay is better.

With the iPod on shuffle, I suppose it was only a matter of time before a song played that would get a reaction. I heard the familar guitar chords and thought, “Oh oh”. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched for a reaction from the new deck.

“I have a hard time missing you baby, with my pistol in your mouth
Mmm have a hard time missing you baby, with my pistol in your mouth…”

I saw her head flip up as she tried to gauge what she heard.

“You may be thinking ’bout going north, but your brains are staying south…”

Then, from inside the cabin I hear, “What the hell are you listening to?”
Without even looking up from my tape measure I replied, “That’s why they call it The Blues, ma’am.”

Pressed Into Service

… and we’re back to work.

Dozin’ In The Mud

We spent the past three days pushing rock and mud with a small dozer. As usual, it rained much of the time, but we managed to only get the dozer stuck once, when we pushed our luck and broke through the stable muck and into the quickmuck. The quickmuck it is what swallowed up the mammoths, so the Deere was lucky to escape with its life. Sadly, I had to sacrifice a few recently acquired birch logs to save the metal beast.

Weekend Plans

Guess what I’ll be doing on Saturday?

I worked both days this weekend to try to make a push on the siding job. The trim needed to get painted and the deck needed stain. Once again the weather didn’t cooperate on Saturday, as I watched the storm clouds come in while I was painting facia boards.
I did get the trim finished and a coat of stain on the deck Sunday, since the rain held off until late in the afternoon. I was dropping off a truckload of the old siding at the transfer site, when the wife of the couple I’m working for swung through to drop off her own trash and offered to buy me a beer at the local brewery.

Part of our conversation over a couple of Old 55’s:

Client: The house looks great. You really know how to polish a turd.
Me: Thanks. You’re trying to give me a compliment, right?
Client: You know what I mean.
Me: That’s not something I want to get around. Next thing you know, I’ll get a rep, then I’ll do nothing but polish turds and they won’t let me near a nice, level house.
Client: There are worse things.
Me: Well, don’t be offended or anything, but that slogan is not going on my tombstone.
Client: You want another beer?
Me: I do now.

What made Milwaukee famous…

I think this has been sitting here for quite a long time. When did steel cans & pop-tops go out of style?

As expected…

… metal roofing & blood thinner mix poorly.

Power, Power, Power

In all honesty, I would have been happy with a Bobcat, but I was given a John Deere backhoe, because “bigger is always better”. I had canceled the delivery on Friday due to a week of straight rain over ground that was still frozen just a few feet below the surface. Every path to the new cabin site was a mucky mess. Then I was told that the backhoe had been delivered a day early, and it was sitting in a driveway about a half mile from where it was suppose to be.

We would figure out a way to make it work. Sorta. Somewhat. In a manner of speaking.

The ground was, of course, too wet for such a large piece of equipment, which is why I thought a Bobcat would be more productive. But one plays with the equipment that’s delivered. I cut down a forest of trees that were in the path, we did a good job of getting the drive “formed”, considering the melting muck. There was no chance of getting the backhoe into where the new cabin will go, however. So the actually site work, and the new hole for the outhouse will have to be done at a future date. Tomorrow the Typar will go down, then we will start to haul rock (re: tailings) in, and build the new driveway from the current drive out to the new cabin location.

The backhoe is a blast to run. In fact it drives easier than The Rover, and with about the same amount of levers. I think The Rover might be a tad faster on the road though. Overall, an extremely hectic weekend, but a very productive one as well.