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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Making Mischief 'N Stuff

We still have winter up here on Cascade Bluff, enough snow to require occasional shoveling and plowing. Our helpful young plow guy, Casey, popped by with his chains on to plow our road today after we got a new 4-5 inch layer of very fluffy white stuff. He brought his Chesapeake dog, Duke, a year old and all bouncing energy... wish I'd got a picture of him! 

Sadly, the road plowing is timed perfectly as tomorrow we head back down the hill and back to Bloomington for three weeks. We will be back in Feb for a visit, and according to the Farmer's Almanac (that has otherwise been pretty much dead wrong this year) Feb 2012 is supposed to be snowy and cold. Okay by us, as long as "cold" doesn't mean 40 below.

I thought I'd post more pix of how we've been getting into mischief up here, with our "new" workshop and our never ending curiosity about what would it be like to try.... well, tiling a metal table, for instance...

These are our first try at tiling.  Not bad, if I do say so myself! The tables are funky metal from that whacky flea market sort of place in Albuquerque, "Jackalope" -- if you haven't been there, imagine the most overstuffed store full of really colorful and somewhat outrageous things from all over the world with a southwestern spin... The tiles are a mix of some we bought years ago for the house in SW Utah that we never built,  some samples we picked up at various places and saved, and some recent additions...
Learned all about tile adhesive and grout...
 ...about making the colors fit when you only have a smattering of each...
 ...using up a variety of samples...
 ...and making sure I didn't crack these, they are very fragile...
 Last time we were in Albuquerque we bought some tiles with numbers on them for our spot in the north woods...
Our friend and neighbor Pat made that lovely wreath for us, by the way...

 Now if you just happen to wander by you'll know you are at the right address!
 Remember the Elf? Well he got out into the workshop, too... Here he is resting against our new bench vise... Not every woman you know owns a bench vise, I'll bet... But please take notice of the TABLE on which the Elf lounges comfortably... We BUILT that! Ooo-Rah!

 Now I know (sort of) how to use a jig saw to make corner cuts...
  

This really sweet bench is made of remnants of Douglas Fir posts, a stair tread and some other pieces. Val came up with this design just for me, and it is now in our front hall! Isn't it beautiful?
 This is a much simpler hunk-o-wood style bench, of two enormous rustic timbers and some scrap we bolted together... It will be moved in the spring to our favorite lookout spot on the trail. It was interesting to cut through those 14" wide timbers with my 7-1/2" circular saw... and cut, and cut... and then use the hand saw...

 The Elf helped Val make our first bench of scrap wood, the one we actually had plans for (and actually followed them...)   Discovered that scrap wood that's been sitting outside getting that nice gray patina isn't always the straightest lumber in the world... But then since we're not the straightest folks around, it all works out...

 Indoors we both got "new" bookshelves in our respective office space, instead of bricks and boards, these are timbers and boards...

Here's the whole collection of new "furniture!"
And you thought we were going to just make some birdhouses, didn't you? 
 But hey, as usual, it isn't all work work work up here. We love this weather (yeah, we know, most of you think that's a little crazy, but so what -- when our friends and families think we're off the deep end, we know we are on the right track!) 

Looks like frosting on the cedars...

 Friends Kris and Mary (the Elf Lady) came for a visit and Val took them snowshoeing...
 When it was time to leave, we shuttled them down the big hill in Babe...
 I kinda wonder if Val wasn't looking for a good excuse to drive the tracks!
 Between snowstorms we've had typical January in Minnesota weather -- cold and blue!
 Someone visited during the night... Who are you?  FYI -- saw another couple of wolves!
 An inviting trail...
 We call this "Cedar Avenue"... The deer love it...
 The last vestiges of the holidays... A beautiful wreath from my sister and brother in law...

 And a blog posting from Cascade Bluff wouldn't be complete without a few shots of the sunset. This was from Jan 10th -- unretouched! It really was that red!

 And it just got better and better...
We'll be back for more in mid-February. Til then, check out my new blog, 

I'm just getting started with recipes "developed" up here in America's Northernmost Test Kitchen... with a fabulous sunset view! 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Adventures Continue

Greetings in the New Year from Adventuresome Cascade Bluff! Wish we could have caught them on film, but this week we are excited to report our first ever sightings of two young wolves (right on our property!) and a bobcat (on the road nearby).  We understand that such experiences might not sound like the type of adventure some people might want, but we are thrilled to glimpse our four-footed neighbors. Moose, bear, wolves, bobcat... Now if only we could spot the elusive lynx...Wouldn't that be fabulous?? 

[insert photo of lynx here...]

We've had our fire road sign for a while, but this year at least two people (including the LP tanker truck) have taken a wrong turn at this sign, which is at the last intersection in the road, and not really on our property. FYI if you are in the neighborhood and want to just drop by, it is all right turns on the way in! Anyway, we decided to install a jaunty little blue and silver arrow, pointing in the RIGHT direction... and of course, being adventurous, we bolted it up to the post in the dark...Perfectly logical... At least it wasn't snowing....

We've continued to build up a nice base of snow, 'though the heat wave hitting Minnesota has not spared us. Strange weather! We hit the low 40's on the day Minneapolis recorded near 60 -- in January! Lost a couple of inches of white stuff that day... rats!

Before all the fun melts, we've been out on our snowshoes...
Havin' fun...
This particular morning the wind chill was about 10 below, thus the Cossack Hat... The water temp was a very balmy 115... My, this hot tub is a little hard to regulate!!
I took off the hat when it got too hot in there, and of course, the wind took over... that little beige smudge in the snow is my hat!!
...and of course, next went the insulated cover for the tub...Funny how the wind took both to the exact same spot... but if those trees hadn't been in the way, they would have been out in Lake Superior...

Here I go, trudging (in my jammie pants) thru the snow...
"Got it!"
"Brave Cossack Woman Rescues Silly Hat And Hot Tub Topper Without Sox On Feet... Details at 10..."

New snow overnight means snow on the photovoltaic panels... Val very bravely remained in the hot tub and ran the camera while I set out (still in jammies, still no sox) for the panels...

We have a long pole with a rubber-tipped broom for the job...
Hey, I'm makin' it look easy...
All done... is that water still hot? My feet are freezing!!

Our adventurous felines... (not)... enjoying the Good Life at The Cabin...Rosie surveying the scene...
Alex would like someone to come and play with him...
More outdoor adventures! Our friend Brian came for a visit and some snowshoeing...The Cascade River from our lookout spot on the ridge....
Brian has some very special blaze orange mittens for hunting season... no mistaking this handsome fellow for a deer!
The view of that mountain keeps changing...
...and the snow keeps falling...
January morning light on Cascade Mountain...
...and a golden January sunrise...
...more pink snow... we get that a lot up here...
Rosie is enjoying a tree full of redpolls just twittering away! They love the cedar seeds...
And another visitor, our dear friend Sue! She bravely accompanied me for a trek across the ice for a little wilderness exploring of our tiny corner of land that is on the other side of Cascade River...
Nobody out here but the wolves leaving tracks...
The terrain and the bush proved a little thicker than we thought it would be! Sue had to untangle a snowshoe from the branches...
...and then there was this twisty little maneuver... Ha, sorry, Sue, I've got the camera and the blog, so the pictures of me upended in the snowbank will just have to be our little secret...
But after all, the whole adventure is really about enjoying the moment. And here are some sublime moments that we savored up on Cascade Bluff...

Slanting light of late afternoon...
...a seductive invitation to take that trail off into the winter woods...
...or just stand and watch the light turn everything gold and purple...


...and paint the horizon with fire...
I'd say that 2012 has gotten off to a very good start! Hang in there for more adventures to come soon...