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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

It is snowing again up on Cascade Bluff. Here's the view from our loft, the lake's gone behind some big ol' snow clouds. We're expecting more of the same overnight. 

I'm at my desk and new "office" where I now have bookshelves, courtesy of some leftover lumber and timbers, a growing confidence with wielding the circular saw, and stubborn refusal to buy new stuff when perfectly good old stuff is sitting around awaiting our ideas... 

 And speaking of perfectly good old stuff, here's a terrific idea! I'd like to dedicate this blog post to Auld Lang Syne... old Scottish for "the days gone by, once apon a time, years ago..."  Reminiscences, in other words. We have been so incredibly fortunate in so many ways -- too many to count. We know we're really lucky, and we appreciate every minute of it. And one of the luckiest and most fortunate aspect of our lives is our incredible circle of wonderful friends and family. So, for Auld Lang Syne, here is a photographic tribute to just a few of the friends who have braved the long drive and the scary hill to make it up to Cascade Bluff over the last couple of years... in no particular order... 

Dave and Merdie, "our neighbors to the north" ...and our very first visitors! Notice there's no railing on the deck yet... watch your step, Dave...


Steph and Joel...and kids...
Sharon and Parker...
Tom... with a gigundo mushroom...
Us and Maria-Teresa...

Val's pal, Morgan the wonder dog...
Val's mentor and former boss, Ace...
Ace is a fabulous wildlife photographer... here he is, caught in a moment of artistic drama... What are you trying to capture there, Ace - some moss???
Ace and Sue...
Good neighbor Stan...
One of Stan's felines...
John, Karen, and Frodo (the dog)...
Last New Year's, much colder and more snow... and Arctic adventurers, Daniela and Linda...
Doin' pretty well on those snowshoes for an Arizonan!
Lynn, Julie, Mary and Pam...
Val, niece Marrisa and brother Keith...
The Vidiarthi family, with our friend Arpana in the middle... right before she left for Singapore!
John and Nina...
Deb and Marilyn...
Beth and Louisa...
Loie, Bob and Nick. Nick rocks at 'Angry Birds' ...taught us a bunch of new tips...way to go...
Gloria, Krystal, and Kathy...
Nick and Zoey...
Our friend Brian (on the right) sealing a real estate deal with Mike... Welcome to the North Shore, Neighbor Brian!
Val and Randy with happy smiles after completing the new hot tub cover...
Randy and Mary Jo...
Sarah and Ann...
Gorgeous sisters, Penny and Sue... they helped us build raised bed #2 for the upcoming gardening season... Thanks, we'll save some tomatoes for you!
Our friend Ellen...
Mitzi and Bill...
Nancy and Val (yes, the Nancy who cleared so much brush she got a trail named for her!)
Neighbors down in Lutsen, Deb and Nan, of Lockport Store... great breakfasts...be sure to stop and order their incredible pancakes some day...
Nancy (a different Nancy...)
Val and Meghan...
Neighbors, friends and 'Up North' mentors, Nick and Kent...
Bridget and David on "their" trail to the river... thanks for the help, you two! Coming back soon, we hope??
We've of course had friends and visitors who snuck by without getting their photo taken, or others whose pictures I've misplaced in some digital file somewhere... we have truly been blessed with wonderful, enjoyable company... For those who don't see their pix up here, if we forgot you, come back and hold still so we can record the event, and for those who haven't made it up here yet, come on, get crackin'! (Are you listening, John, Chris, Ron? Let this be the year...)
And so on this final day of 2011, we look back fondly and raise a cup of kindness... 

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend,
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And now you can all go and watch "It's A Wonderful Life" again! Don't forget the Kleenex... See you all next year for more of the Adventures of Kathy And Val's New World!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

14 Inches and Counting....

Late December greetings from the Bluff above the Cascade River...


We've been having fun doing things like splitting kindling for our wood stoves...

More later on what other mischief we've been into with the power tools. Mostly we've been enjoying a real winter up here. Unlike MInneapolis and St. Paul, where we understand it's been brown with occasional icy rain (yechhh) we're getting white stuff up here and lots of it!
One of our trail cairns... Each one has a special meaning for us. Doesn't this one look lovely with a cap of snow?
This week we've had snow three times. I measured -- 14 inches and counting! 
Here I am, on snowshoes at last (there's finally enough on the ground to make it worthwhile) by those cedars I've mentioned before...
Three white cedars growing together... Awesome!
The trees look wonderful decked out in their winter duds...
...our snowshoe tracks heading back...
I'm on the "Nancy Trail"... what a fabulous trail -- thanks for the help with the clippers and brush clearing, Nancy!
Looks tempting, doesn't it?
We have two kinds of birch on our land: paper and yellow. Here's one of each species snuggled right next to one another. These ladies were growing from an old downed white spruce stump. Mama Nature showing off...
Late afternoon (about 3pm is late during this part of the year) and the east border trail leads south. The snow makes our trail look so neat and well-defined! Wait til next August... all this will be filled in again unless Nancy comes back with those clippers and helps us out... You too could have a trail named after you, dear blog-follower, just plan your trip to Cascade Bluff to coincide with our trail maintenance chores!
Afternoon is getting on... late this time of year is 3 pm...
"The Winter Garden." Our first raised bed in the front, and the dormant compost heap in the back... waiting for spring...
Here's a far off view of the bluff to our east. I don't get photos of this one very often.
Here's Val doing some birch reconnaissance ... this stand has a few that look kinda funky. We'll be out there with our chainsaw in the near future gathering next winter's firewood. Watch for a blog post of the lumberjack ladies, of course! And don't worry, we'll be wearing our headgear and Kevlar chaps...
A final shot of mid-winter light... mysterious... and the signal to head indoors for a nice hot bowl of chili and a cup of hot cocoa!