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Monday, April 26, 2010

River of Stone

We have just spent a really nice 3 days up in the north, checking out the New World from our temporary home base in Grand Marais, East Bay Suites. We love our friends at East Bay, and they've been good to us, but we're anticipating that the next time we will be staying at our own beautiful cabin on the bluff, complete with toilets, running water, room service
(Val? Sweetheart? Fire up that waffle iron, please!) ...

Here is our east side deck, you've not seen many photos of this side of the house. We had a great idea on this trip, and that is to make our screened in porch on the east deck. Works better over all, for several reasons, not the least is that it can be roomier on this side. Look forward to progress photos of the screen porch....
This is quickly becoming our favorite part of the place: the black slate hearth....

...with our river of stone...

Loft stairs and rail... they will have horizontal cables, not traditional balustrades...

Some very handsome Doug Fir stair skirting...


A kitchen with light!! That's the 'frig hiding out on the deck.

Copper sink, surrounded by brilliant colored tile...

Faux bronze faucet...

The cabinet that will be next to the frig... the iron rods are to hold shelves in place...

The reclaimed Doug fir flooring is in, with a few nail holes and knots filled in with epoxy...
...here's the newly sanded floor, ready for stain...
Staining in process...
Chris (in red) and Nate (wearing the Star Wars Storm Trooper uniform) hard at work...
Nick, praying that the other guys don't stain him into a corner...
And the finished product!

Here are some trim and shelves waiting to be installed....

In the upper bath, a close up of our hand-made tiles and a real find from an Albuquerque flea market: a copper and silver framed mirror that compliments the tiles perfectly.

Downstairs bath, the shower has a half wall that is glass block above tile...

...and another view of the Mexican painted sink...
But really, we spent most of our time outdoors. The maple forest hasn't "leafed in" yet, and tiny spring woodland blooms are poking up through last year's leaves...

Our next date for a northward excursion will be the end of May... Check back for final details!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Springing Along

Here are some wonderful photos from Chris, taken this week of the progress inside and out. We had a sort of an ACKKK!! moment a few weeks ago, realizing that this counter did not come out as far as we had planned. But the day was saved by the efforts of Jim E, the overhang of the counter was increased, supporting corbels that look like timber frame braces were installed, and now we can sit at this nice overhanging counter and sip our coffee or eat breakfast in style!
Here is the kitchen... Cabinets awaiting facings...
A close up of the tile backsplash behind the kitchen stove...

In the "living room" the Vermont Castings wood stove is re-installed (well, almost... no stovepipe at this moment) and sits on the gorgeous Minnesota slate hearth with the streaming river of stone behind it.


Here is something you haven't seen before! Our first floor Mistress Bathroom, all tiled in with a mix of newly purchased (closeout special from Tile Liquidators) and more of the Mexican stuff. This blue is lighter in color than the kitchen cobalt; it is called "denim" and it does look like nicely worn jeans. The sink is kinda cool, don't you think? Another SW artifact, bought on one of many trips to Albuquerque, and waiting for all these years to be of use!

Upstairs bath, with the row of "spice box" hand-made tiles as a nifty and completely unique backsplash. There aren't any more of those tiles -- if we break one, I'll have to dig out the plaster mold and make some more!

Back out in the living area, the recycled Doug Fir wood flooring is going in. And notice the wood facing on that peninsula, under the counter? That's more Doug Fir, milled off the sides of our old reclaimed timbers.

Outside, the siding is complete! From the north, you can see the shingles that fit into the gable.


And from the south, doesn't our New World look grand?

We're heading up to check things out in person on April 24, so next week watch for another post with more photos of progress.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mud Season

Early spring is a beautiful season up in the north woods. Here's Kathy looking up the trail from the back of our place that leads up along the ridge of the bluff...

The Cascade River still has a crust of ice and snow along the edges...
Up on top of the ridge, we can look upriver to the north...

Looking east from our bluff, in the far distance we could see a cell phone tower. (You will have to use your imaginations.) That's along the Gunflint Trail, 12 miles away. And "line of sight" transmission meant we momentarily had 4 bars!

Yes, that's ice and snow along the river's edge... The last of it!

Spring also means mud season in Cook County. And we've got lots of that...

Good thing Babe the Blue Jeep is a good sport...

Whoa... Here we go, slip sliding down the big hill... The four wheel drive linkage didn't like this hill one bit... Caught on deep soft ruts and popped out of gear... Gulp... but all is well now!

Here is our least favorite gloppy section of the road.
A message to our close neighbors in the northland -- We've got Dean B on the job now to shore up the road, add culverts and repair the soft gunk. He was glad to see it at its worst, and we were glad he got to witness those darn ephemeral streams at their best, turning red clay and dirt into a yecchy mess. It is raining in Minneapolis... we don't know what to hope for -- rain to keep the fires away or dry to help our road!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tile From Afar and Stone From Nearby

A reminder to our readers: Val and I originally bought a parcel of land in SW Utah, in late 2000 when we were on a road trip and visited old friends Rod and Pat who lived near St. George. We instantly fell for the expansive views, the red rock cliffs, the smell of the sage. We started to collect stuff for the inside of a future house, including tile from Mexico, some purchased in Mexico and other stuff bought in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and "trucked" back with us in the VW Eurovan. Long story short: we decided SW Utah was not for us, too many reasons to enumerate (though it is still gorgeous and we love to visit.) Fast forward to 2010, and we are building this whacky "cabin" on the top of a bluff 15 miles from the nearest small town, with no electricity. Where would be the perfect place to use that stunning cobalt blue tile with the antique Majolica accent tiles we've had in our storage closet for almost ten years? At our New World at Cascade Bluff, of course....

Looking into the kitchen, with the cabinet "shells" in place but not much else...
Jim Elverhoy, the master tile artist, laying out the pattern for one of the walls...

Don, getting ready to cut a tile to fit around an electrical outlet....

...Here is the tile, lying in wait...

The back splash behind the sink, going up, one...

...two...

....three... Notice the fancy cutouts required to fit around the outlet...

Here's one counter newly laid, still gleaming wet from having just been wiped clean of dust... Don't you just love that cobalt blue?

Here is the finished back splash behind the sink, with some antique tile accents...

A close up of one of our Majolica tiles. We bought these at a beautiful little shop in the old town section of Puerto Vallarta. The tiles are hand painted, salvaged from old buildings in Mexico, all over South America, and if the proprietor was telling the truth, even from Spain. The tiles are made of sun-dried red clay. Really old, really cool. And from very far away: 1500 miles to Albuquerque, over 3000 to PV, and before that, from...? OK, we admit it... probably our least "green" choice for the place... but ceramic tile is not toxic, and the antiques are "reused"... And we already had all the material!

The piece de resistance: the Majolica "mosaic" back splash behind the stove (not yet installed). We think it is pretty darned gorgeous.

Then there is the stone from nearby. The black slate for the hearth under the wood stove (temporarily decommissioned and resting in the corner of the room) comes from "The Range." For the non-Minnesotans out there, that means The Iron Range, ie, the central NE section of the state, where iron has been mined for many years. Towns like Ely, Hibbing, and Virginia were built by the mines, and now that the ore is mostly gone those towns are really suffering. Just so happens that Virginia has a stone quarry too, and this great black stone comes from there, around 100 miles as the raven flies and 132 mi by truck.

Here's one of Jim's stone masons at work, cutting and fitting the VIrginia slate. It looks great but we are told by the experts that there must be a ton of iron in this slate, since it is very hard.

The heat shield wall behind the wood stove might have been just more random chunks of the slate... But Jim asked if we wanted any sort of pattern or design. I said, well here we are on the Cascade River, on Cascade Bluffs road.... How about a stream of stone?
Here it is, emerging...


A close up of the rushing stone stream...

We are so pleased with the beautiful details that are evolving at our place in the woods! Stay tuned, more is coming...