North Nikiski 1989 to 2015
As I start this article I am “pondering” at the fact that the past 30 years have been the most delightful time of my life. Well, with exception of how delightful my kids were and are, while I grew up with them.
Bob and I have known each other for exactly 30 years. We have grown into a most comfortable position in life after years of hard work, such as trying to get in and out of our new house in the middle of winter. Bob and his helpers, (one being John Turnbull), built our house in a summer span that was more rain than shine. Bob also had a full time job at Unocal. We moved into an unfinished house but we were warm and comfortable.
We waded through waist deep snow, pulling dirty clothes and empty water jugs on a sled up the hill to the cul de sac where our car was parked. We pulled clean clothes, jugs full of water and groceries down the hill (sometimes not successfully) in waist deep snow. We struggled through those first years and Bob always had( and still does) a smile or an outright laugh at me and my stuggles, with my short legs trying to stay in his snow tracks to get me into the new house that “Bob Built” and build a fire in our wood stove to warm us up.
We retired our woodstove this fall. Now we are comfortable in our warm house by using our Rennnai heater. We do miss, at times, the hot heat of a roaring fire from the wood stove. Those are warm memories that cause me to ponder a lot.
I washed clothes in the summer with an old Maytag washing machine setting on a palette in the yard. I filled it full of water from a hose that was connected to a pump that was connected to a generator that pumped water out of the lake. I rinsed them in a round galvanized tub. I hung clothes on a line strung from tree to tree. Oh! Those dried clothes smelled so good!
Bob’s work at Unocal provided money enough for us to think about getting electricity into the property. (On a four year payment plan.) But wait! You have to wait – for the process of the internal working of the electric company – the bouncing back and forth of a person setting at a computer, telling us that we had to bring electrical lines from a source about 4 blocks away and very very expensive, compared to the line that was actually at the cabins we had moved out of, less that a half block. The final plans took about 4 months. The digging of the ditch, the setting of the pole took two days. We had electricity! The first electrical thing we bought was a toaster and a loaf of bread. We toasted the whole loaf and ate every buttered slice in about a half hour. We still love toast!
Bob added a bathroom a year later, so we could be comfortable and not struggle with big heavy snow coats, put on our boots and trudge to the outhouse, that had a snow path he shoveled. Some years the sides of the path were 5 or 6 foot tall. What a big accomplishment indoor plumbing was! We so appreciate our indoor bathroom every winter and still use the outhouse on occasion in the summer, just to remind us of memories and “pondering.”
We added an electric glass top stove to replace the old propane appartment sized stove. No more cleaning parts and pieces of all the stove top burners. Now just one or two wipes and I have a shinny clean stove top. We also replaced, the much hated on my part, propane refrigerator. Old and temperamental, we either had frozen lettuce or thawed, liquid ice cream. I realize how efficient the propane refrigerators are – ours was not! It came off the beach, painted a horrible brown to match the rust spots.
We added a big heavy TV early on. We have upgraded several times to a very large, light weight TV. Gone are the days of oil lamp light and Bob reading to me Robert Service and all the ridiculously funny Patric McMannus books. We laughed until we were silly, hoping that no one came to the door and called the “carzy wagon.”
I learned about the computer 16 years ago after Bob built this wonderful sewing/computer room with the help from friends (John) son David and grandson, Grey about 5 years old. During the construction of my sewing room, Grey was Bob’s forever helper with his small nail apron. Bob sawed off at the handle a hammer, added a small square and a big pencil and a full arpon of nails. Lots of progress was being made on the sewing room and Grey pounded lots of nails into odd pieces of discarded wood that Bob did not need.
If you asked Grey what he was doing his reply was, “Helpin’ Bob, that’s what I do, don’t ya know Grahma?” He also was taught by Bob to say “ A Carpenters work is never done, Grahma”, followed by shaking his head and a blank stare at me.
One of our favorite memories and why we like the word “ponder” so well, is Bob telling Grey to take time out, we have to “ponder.” They headed for the tree shaded picnic table for a well deserved cold glass of juice for Grey and a cold beer for Bob. Grey, stepping right behind Bob, wiggled up on the bench, right beside Bob and looked at him in all seriousness. “ Bob – does pondering mean drinking beer?”
No not really, “pondering” in my word book means memories and lots of them!
As I write this I suddenly realized my dream of coming to Alaska was in 1963, the year J.F. Kennedy was assasinated. I was most sure I could survive in Alaska with my three kids. It took me until 1967 to get to Alaska. Now after all these years in Alaska, my dreams have been realized finally. I live in a warm, cute little house (that Bob built) on a hill above a beautiful lake in the woods. I am very happy, warm and comfortable. My kids live in the area. Two of my grandsons live close by and so do two of my great grandkids. I am surrounded by nice neighbors.
Memories makes me stop and ponder about how lucky I am to have had Bob to spend this last 30 years with.
Thanks for all those memories Bob!!
Maybe we all should stop and ponder our memories. You still have time!