1995 Nikiski, Alaska
Bob and I met when we were both in our 40s. What a treat he has been and fun besides. We built our little house in the woods beside a small lake full of fish. No running water, no electricity and a state-of-the-art outhouse was built just for me. Our unfinished house was cozy and warm. We read stories to each other by lamplight (he is a much better reader, Robert Service is his best!) We laughed; we giggled and had lots of fun reading by the light of the lamp, sitting around the wood stove. We were afraid that we would have the Pattie Wagon called on us, if someone knocked on our door, as we laughed so hard at Patrick McManus and all his stories about Rancid Crab Tree, in his book Grasshopper Trap and Real Ponies Don’t Oink, and all the other stories he has written. We still laugh at those stories.
We built our house a year much like this summer. One of those rainy seasons, with down pours of rain all summer long. When we walked across the newly disturbed ground, the mud would build up on our shoes, making us about 2 inches taller by time we got to where we were going. And it just kept raining!
I loved our wood stove from the very start and curled up on the floor in the sleeping bag before the house was done. We decided we could get along without electricity and running water for a couple years, besides it would be fun! Yeah-Right!! But before the house or anything was started, a state-of-the-art outhouse was built. It still is a nice place to “go” in the summer, but the winters, those are shivering interludes I prefer to forget.
The sub-floor, the walls of the house, was built in the rain. A big green tarp was spread over the top to keep the rain out at night. Before Bob went to work at Unocal in the morning, we would take a T-like two by four that he built and push the rain up and out of the green tarp that sagged almost to the floor.
I tried to do what I could during the day, but most of the house was built after Bob got off work. With the help of our good friend J.T. we got most of the house closed in. And with the help of other friends we finished the roof by late October, 1995. We moved in and lived within the four walls, while we finished the inside with sheet rock. Bob would put up the sheet rock and mud the cracks. I would sand them off during the day, and he would come back after work and sometimes have to redo my intense sanding. Those were tough days, as we had sheet rock dust everywhere!
I was the blame for moving in before the house was done. I could not stand to 5th wheel that J.T. had so nicely let us borrow while we were building. It was built in California, with tinted windows and when it rained the condensation was terrible inside. I felt so confined in the tiny bedroom, as it was built over the 5th wheel part, leaving about 3 foot of headspace. I woke up once again with the ceiling dripping and the bed clothes damp and cold. I grabbed a sleeping bag, headed for our unfinished house, re-built a fire in our newly installed wood stove, curled up in the sleeping bag on the floor next to it and went sound asleep!
Bob woke up in the fifth wheel wondering where I was, came into our house and discovered me asleep on the floor next to the wood stove. When he asked what I was doing, I told him I was not sleeping another night in the damp, cold fifth wheel.
So we moved into the unfinished house and we have been there every since! Oh yes, the house has been finished with the handiness of Bob. He built cupboards in the kitchen, a closet, wired for electricity and plumbing for water. We were set and we read to each other each night by lamplight.
Next week finishing the house, and digging a well with the engineering of J.T. and Bob and the 1963 Ford pickup.