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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Can't Wait For Spring!

I just can't wait for spring this year, so I've decided to post some pictures from last spring, 2009, when I got lucky and caught some of the woodland and prairie blooms that pop up every year. These blossoms only last for a week each year, so you have to get out in the woods and fields at the right time!







I could use some color in this warm but dreary gray late winter/early spring, so I thought everyone else might feel the same. Enjoy! We head to the northland next week and will post more images from the ongoing progress at Cascade Bluff.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Everyone's Got A Little Irish Inside...

This weekend is officially the beginning of spring, so the snowflakes are gone, and the blog colors have changed!

Today's post has very little to do with our New World project up near Grand Marais. But don't worry, I'll find some connection! In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here are a few pictures from our trip to Ireland in May of 2005, where everyone can be Irish, even someone half Polish and mostly the rest Scot (and a teensy bit Irish) like me, or nearly purebred Norwegian, with a whiff Danish, like Val (ya, you betcha, she's a Viking Gal!)...

This is the main drag in the village of Ballyvaughan, where our walking and poetry trip in the western county of Clare in Ireland was centered. FYI, Monk's Pub had great fish and chips...

Here's a view of the countryside in County Clare...
good fences make good neighbors, as Mr. Frost said...

...indigenous wildlife...

...never found out if there was a pot o' gold out there...

...but we did discover O'Lochlan's, the local "whiskey pub," where we were instructed in the fine art of sipping "a wee splash." Good thing it was only a block from our cottage. We discovered that Jameson's is considered the local version of rot-gut whiskey. Much more palatable...and expensive...and impossible to find in the US...were brands such as Green Spot, Tyrconnell and Midelton's... mmmm.... and that trip to Ireland led to Irish whiskey finding such a warm place in our hearts, as you who are reading this blog already know...

Now, for a completely different "Welcome Spring" experience, in 2008 I dragged Val to Kearney, Nebraska to see the annual sandhill crane migration as they pause along the Platte River to refuel on their way north. Here we are just about to enter this lovely photo blind, where we spent an extremely cold and claustrophobic night, all for the privilege of watching 300,000 big birdies... What you won't do for love, right?

And here they are, starting to gather at sunset...

...a whole mess of cranes, by air, by water and by land...
And a Platte River sunset, complete with cranes.
Take a look at this website (also a link along the side) best viewed early mornings and late in the day, just after sunset. Even if the picture isn't up and running, just listen...
this is the Rowe Sanctuary web cam on the Platte... wow...

http://www.rowesanctuary.org/crane%20cam.html
So, what's the connection to Kathy and Val's New World at Cascade Bluff? There isn't one, except the sandhill cranes will be flying over the north woods during the next weeks, on their way toward the arctic where most of them nest... and they are so beautiful!

See you in a few weeks...

Monday, March 15, 2010

And March Ain't Even Over Yet...

Progress continues up at our New World as the weather this March has been incredibly cooperative. Here is some of the board and batten siding up on the second story...
...and work is moving along on the decks... By the way, what the heck happened to the snow?

A close up of our new copper post caps! They sure look way cooler than the black plastic and duct tape!

And inside, more color and texture. Here is the entry hall. Those will be storage closets...

...in the Mistress Bedroom, the walls are a calm blue, with character...


...and this warm hue continues up the stairs and will be throughout much of the upper story.

Beautiful work, we appreciate it -- our thanks to Boreal Craft and the Brothers Kalb!
Our next in person visit is in about 2 weeks. Look for more images in early April.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

All Hands On Deck

Our neighbor to the north, Susan the vet, and Chris, our contractor, sent us some great photos of work in progress this week! Still lots of snow up there, but it is melting fast.
Days in the 40's, just like in Minneapolis...
The deck soffits are done, and don't they look beautiful? That means that the siding can go up on the second floor soon. The "cedar mesh" AKA "gorilla fur" is in place on the east wall.
Nick is up there working in shirtsleeves... what a Viking!
We are so excited that on our next visit we'll be able to sit in lounge chairs on our deck, not teeter on sheets of plywood!

Here's Nate nailin' a few loose ends down...

Susan sent us some wonderful new photos from angles we hadn't captured before...

The NE corner of the kitchen...

And Chris has sent these pictures of the first windowsill in place...

...that nice Southwestern look we wanted...

Jim K adding a second layer of colored plaster to the bedroom walls...

...a close-up of the textured ceiling in the downstairs bath...

...and the textured wall of the bath, a rich terracotta color.

G'bye for now, we'll be back soon!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Structure and Infrastructure

Welcome to a view of "The Cabin" as we approached on the road, on a great sunny day on Wednesday Feb 24.

The guys are working on our place outside and in. Here are some views of the boards going up on the exterior walls, in preparation for adding the narrow battens...

We have a new roof over our entry door, a shed roof (the post is a temporary one... Chris is looking into milling a post for us from the one mature healthy white cedar we had to take down for this project...).


Here is a stack of pine boards for the roof beneath the entry as well as the soffits on the north end of the building...
Here is the underside of the entry, pine boards in place...

Speaking of soffits, the nice looking salvaged larch that was milled for boards for our interior ceiling is also being used for the exterior soffit over the deck on the E, W and S sides.
Here's a stack...

...and some of the soffit boards in place...

The exterior walls are kind of complex. The primary structure is a SIP (structural insulated panel) with 8.5 inches of expanded polystyrene foam insulation, with 2.5 more inches of the pink stuff (extruded PS) over that, then a wrap, then this funny black stuff...

...which we call gorilla mesh, for its resemblance to gorilla fur. This stiff plastic mesh is stapled on the exterior wall and holds the final layer, the pine board siding, out a bit from the wrap and foam so the boards can breathe and rain can run down behind them and not pool. This helps the wood siding last longer and not rot, we are told.

Inside, this is our new boiler. It hangs on the wall!

Here are pipes that will carry heat to the bathroom wall...

Our domestic water heater is in, with space left nearby for a solar thermal water tank for when we install our solar thermal panels sometime this spring or summer, to supplement our propane fired water heater and get some hot showers for the price of sunshine (and the investment in the panels etc.)

The in-floor heat is amazing! Val's checking out the temp, just barely feels warm to the touch with the thermostat at 65 for the plaster guy to work, but the whole place is nice and comfortable. Here's to passive solar heat from those upstairs windows, and thick walls!

And speaking of plaster, our interior walls are sheetrock with a layer of American Clay plaster. These are some of the ceilings that have been completed...


A window awaiting plaster that will, we hope, be nearly as bright blue as that tape!


Here's a big bucket of thick terra-cotta colored clay for our first floor bathroom...
...the first swipe of color on the wall, still wet...

...the Mistress Bath wall with one of our tiles. The clay is now dry and looks quite a bit lighter in color, don't you all think?

...and here is a view of the walls of the bath. This bath will also have lots of bright blue tile and will look like you just got off the plane in Puerto Vallarta...

Bags of clay ready to be mixed with water and pigment and spread around...
Just can't get enough shots of the south bank of windows upstairs!

...and you turn around to see the loft and all those nice timbers... That's Doug fir flooring awaiting installation...
Here is a shot of the doorway entering from the stairwell into the kitchen and "great room."

The Pantry... awaiting the necessities of life... and you all know what that means... The single malts will be stored on the left...

And basically no blog entry on "Kathy and Val's New World" would be complete without a photo of that 110 mile view of the far shore of Madame Superior, as seen from our living room. Ahhh!