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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giving Thanks

Greetings on Thanksgiving weekend from Cascade Bluff! Winter is slowly overtaking us... much less dramatic than last year's foot of snow just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Just a few inches so far, and most of that has already melted....

We were busy before the snow flew, splitting a birch that had to come down this fall and stacking it in our new wood shed that sits at the back of our new garage....

...and this is just half of it!....


We enjoyed a lovely walk exploring parts of the woods we haven't seen very much... This is a great time of year to tramp about, while all the leaves are down and before big piles and drifts of snow accumulate. 

Here is one of our trails, along our east border... 

A spot of bright color...
We came down to the riverbank at a spot where the bank isn't too steep, and found a wonderland of ice, rocks and gurgling water...




Our dear friend Rox came for a visit for Thanksgiving. She is making an afghan for us... and of course, Rosie the kitty is very interested in the entire process!
Rosie the Yarn Guardian...


The Thanksgiving "feast"....
...and at the end of a nice day, another gorgeous sunset! 

 

We are so very thankful for our lives of incredible abundance, for family, friends, good health, beautiful natural surroundings, and for our New World at Cascade Bluff! 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What's New at Cascade Bluff



 Greetings everyone! We are experiencing our first real Minnesota snowfall today, and Val and I are heading up north into the heart of it tomorrow. Can't wait!! We've been away from our beautiful spot in the north woods for a long time. And it has been way way too long between postings... sorry about that! 
This one is a catch-up covering "what's new" at 556 Cascade Bluffs for the last 5 months or so! Here I am, the Lupine Lady, in mid June... I am mixing mud with lupine seeds... delightful work, I might add... then spreading the mud-balls with their seed nuggets in the hopes of having some glorious purple color next spring... We'll see!



You all remember about the totalled Eurovan named Panzerbjorn? Well, this is Ursula, the big red Ford Explorer. We think she looks sort of bear-like, hence the name... She is replacing our buddy the van, and has some better attributes though she's not quite as roomy. But the cats like her!




 These are a few "new items" we've brought up to the cabin this year...a Mexican vase...


a bell from Arizona (an Arcosanti bell)...a pretty star-shaped hanging light for the screened porch...

 
 ... the screened porch...

 
 Here are some things that probably require a bit of explanation. These three colorful masks are part of a group of four that we picked up in a Guatemala market. Aren't they wild looking? Sort of scary, too, late at night...
 


 ...especially this guy with the big red tongue... needs to have his B12 checked, I'd say...

 

 This is my latest bit of whackiness. It's true, folks, we (oh, okay, I'm the culprit) are collecting Rubber Duckies! We got one years ago from a guy who worked on our bathroom--he gave them out as a cute alternative to the usual boring magnetic business card. Then we got #2 along with the hot tub and stove... came in the package,wearing a snorkel mask (the stove is called a Snorkel Stove...) Number 3 was handed out at a meeting... and three seemed like the start of something interesting... A couple of bucks on Amazon, and voila! Our very own collection of assorted (and I mean really assorted) Duckies! We have a Geisha Duckie, a Dreadlock Duckie, a Military Duckie, a Mermaid Duckie, a Duckie with a Walker... You'll have to see it to believe it... and of course, additions to the collection will be certainly appreciated!

 
 Back in June (before the car accident) our home in the woods was a site to visit on the Cook County Small Footprint Fair. One could argue about the size of our footprint, but we were picked because of the "off the grid" electrical system, the novel heating stuff, the super efficient construction and some of the other "green" things we've done. It was kind of fun! And our contractor gave us an official energy rating certificate, ranking our structure as 5 times more energy efficient than the average house...

 

We did some nice additions to the outdoors...A Mesaba Cherry (bred for zone 3 for you gardeners...self pollinating, too!)




We crawled around on the rock retaining wall that faces south, and planted a bunch of perennials. By late summer they were really thriving!





Our good friends Randy and Mary Jo came for a visit from Fargo. Randy was really great, helping us make (well basically doing everything) a beautiful insulated lid for our hot tub.


For those of you who have a place out in the woods, you'll already know that one thing that can be said about garages is they are always "too small". We learned that lesson last year, especially in the winter when we discovered that trying to fit the Ford F250 and the Jeep Wrangler with her Trax attached (and not ram into all the stuff in the garage) was, as Yul Brynner said in "The King and I", a puzzlement. So this summer, guess what we did! Had a second garage built, right behind the first one. We also put some sheet rock up, insulated and added a simple wood stove to the first garage, which is now a workshop, 4 season-style!


We already have a list of "projects for the "workshop" and got a head start in October. Lots of scrap wood left over from construction and we are putting it to use. Here are some 2x4's cut up and ready to assemble.... into sand-salt barrel racks for winter...



...another "new" item, our hand splitter....
...and a big pile of cedar to split into kindling....

Speaking of splitting, we've been hard at work again this year....

This Monster Machine is not ours, but we borrowed it for a few days from a neighbor. It is to clear trails and it is like a giant lawn mower meant to take down small trees and brush. Too big for us and too hard to handle on our steep and rough, rocky terrain...
But we managed to clear lots of trails, nonetheless, with a smaller device called a Bush whacker. Can't put my hands on a photo of Val in the swing of it... As you see, this trail was particularly gnarly, through really thick brush...
...but some was through more open forest...

We made it all the way down our east boundary to the USGS survey pin that marks the SE corner of our property.  A huge spruce tree has fallen over the marker, nearly squashing it into the ground!
 

 And last, here is a great pic of Val enjoying the stupendous view from our "lookout" spot on the ridge behind our cabin, looking NE toward the curve in the Cascade River. Doesn't she look glad to be out of the city?
 

Next post won't be so long in coming. I have a backlog, so watch out!