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Monday, November 26, 2012

A Real Winter Has Begun!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! We are beginning to enjoy a real winter ... as compared to last year which was wimpy, warm and too little of the fun white stuff for our tastes. But 2012-2013 is starting out right. Snow has come and rapidly gone in October and November, but now as of today, November 26, we've had about 8 to 10 inches up here on The Bluff, with a 60-70% chance of more tonight! 

The trees look lovely...
...and even such mundane items as the fence hiding our LP tank look sweet when dusted with frosting...
More icing on those trees...
A combination of mist, morning sun, the accumulation of the night before and bits of glitter in the air...
Every trail looks especially inviting... No footprints before yours! 
Branches weighed down with new snow...
Woodland in winter...
The slanting light of November adds just the right golden hue on those tree trunks, don't you think? 
And behind it all, that amazing winter blue sky...
Hmmm... here's something happening in the maple forest...
...more on this later... we are building a labyrinth! Not a maze... a walking path that leads inward in a spiral and out on the same path, a labyrinth is an ancient meditative structure... and ours is in the middle of the woods. maybe I'll devote an entire post to the details... right now it is a work in progress, and looks pretty darn cool with a blanket of snow...
Even the most ordinary and common of the north woods trees, the lowly but fragrant balsam fir, looks gorgeous...
A peek at our solar panels, diligently movin' electrons...
Sparkling air filled with little flecks of ice...
Our snug house on The Bluff...
and "the compound"...
Nice view to the west toward Cascade Mountain...
...and south toward the far shore of The Big Lake herself, all silvery and steely gray in the slanting light of late November...
Morning mist...


Blazing sunlight, all of 15 degrees out, but felt positively warm! 
It'll be a while before we're sitting comfortably in these chairs...
Is that more snow heading our way? 

Gotta love that view...

And I just can't get enough of that ethereal blue winter sky and our beloved maples and cedars all dressed up in their formal clothes! 

We're heading back to the city for a bit, but I do have some hoarded photos from late fall and may have some posting to share before the next big snowfall hits... stay tuned! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tinkering with Toys for Fun, Safety, and Pleasure

Wow, it has been an incredibly long time since I posted anything here, and for that long lapse I sincerely apologize. Lots has happened since the hot and dry summer of 2012, culminating in some nice rain, a fabulous election and relief that our state refused to put intolerance into our constitution... but that's all for another blog or at least another blog post!

I feel that it is time I caught up with some of the more mundane and mechanical events of 2012, which included some creative on-the-spot carpentry, a bit of frugal use of what's lying around to make things more attractive, and the latest and greatest in toys for the women of the woods who have lots of toys!

First, let me re-introduce you to our friend Nick, a creative carpenter if there ever was one! 
Nick's arriving for the day's task: to make our "Overlook" site on our ridge trail, where so many of our friends have posed for a photo or stared off into the wonderful view, a safer and more sturdy place. 
Here is the Overlook, or "The Lookout"... we had put up some makeshift rails of downed tree limbs, but the slope down to the edge is kinda steep. Thinking we'd just dig down and put in some sturdy rocks for steps, we discovered what we already should have known... it is bedrock just a few inches below the surface, all the way down. Hmmm... now what? 

Well, Nick brought some ingenuity... and some masonry bits... 
...started sinking some anchoring blocks..
...and a few more anchoring blocks...
...pausing to explain his strategy... notice the fine tools for precision cutting of the various 2x4s and other lumber (the chain saw)...
We had some leftover stair risers...
Heck of a deal... they fit! 

Fasten them down to those anchor blocks nice and tight...
Looking good...
Adding tread...
Voila! Stairs! 
...and with a newly reinforced railing, our lookout site is much safer and more comfortable. Come on up, we'll take your picture! 

Now this project was something we began last year, let languish over the winter, and finally completed this summer. We made this wall/fence of lots and lots of bits of scrap lumber, mostly pieces of board and batten from our siding...
Behind this lovely rustic fence hides... an LP tank...and Kathy... 
Hi there! She was momentarily in charge of holding the fence in place while Val ran to get a few more bolts...
Here's the final view... no LP tank lookin' like a big beached submarine. 

And then there's the Toy category... BIG toys, noisy toys, that is. As you may recall, earlier this year we had a close encounter with a busted wood chipper, and were not very amused by it all. Well, we started over, and ordered from a different company, who kindly delivered to our small and far away community... Nick provided transport for the final stretch...
...and friends Michele and Dawn helped drag the thing off the trailer...
And here she is: the Wood Chipper, that is... Val, for perhaps the first time in her life, actually reading the instruction manual before attempting to put it together! 
What a beaut! 
Michele and Nick attaching the shutte...

...the feeder mechanism...

Watch your hands, everybody! 

...and not much later, Charlene the Chipper started on the first pull, which is why Val is grinning so widely! Yes! 

Here's a small sample of our first product... Michele immediately said, "looks like great dog bed material" but we have the garden and the landscaping projects more in mind... maybe dogs will come later...
Woo hoo! She purrs like a big ol' red tabby cat! 
...and even Zoe, Nick's daughter, thinks the chipper is neat!

Soon to come, more pix of this summer and fall's outdoor projects... you won't believe what we've been up to at our Hard Labor Camp in Northern MN... 
and a very hearty thanks to all our friends everywhere in the state who went out yesterday and VOTED NO on the so-called marriage amendment! Yahoo!