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Friday, September 27, 2013

Changes and Visitations At Cascade Bluff

Well this time I have a perfect excuse for why I have not been posting for so long.... you know what I mean, don't you, Mary S? Those that don't know will know soon enough...  but in the meantime here is a post of some of the seasonal changes, some predictable, some not, and some of the visitations from friends and relatives over the summer and early fall of 2013! 

My cousins Susy and Therese happened to be "in the neighborhood"... ie, Chicago... and about 12 hours driving time later, they showed up (expected) in a classic Jaguar! Zoom zmmm!!!! Fanciest car to ever arrive at Cascade Bluff, and with very welcome occupants! 

 Perhaps you might notice a slight family resemblance... oh yeah, ya think? Looks like we all got the same Ogle cheeks... 

Speaking of cousins, Val's cousin Beverly was in the neighborhood and stopped by for an exploration of our trails...
...and she and her friends got the whole tour, including climbing over some downed trees... and they are still smiling! 

 Friends Cindy and Gary stopped by for a hike and a good talk on the deck...
Neighbors and friends Dave and Meredith camped on their nearby land and came over for breakfast, and our dear friend Sue was our guest and joined in... along with all the other things we coaxed Sue into helping us out with... more on that later...
Here's Dave admiring the view... or sleeping standing up, hard to tell for sure, after a night of tent camping... need a refill on that coffee, Dave? 
... our friends Mary and Curt came by for yet another hike, a big exploration and "assessment" for future events... lots more on THAT later, too...
 Our friend Alex stayed overnight and was immediately recruited to help clear our newest "trail" which is a river overlook on a steep slope by the road... actually he graciously volunteered to don gloves and wield the hand saw, clippers and the Jaws of Death (our electric clippers)....
Here's Alex and Val at what is now called "Alex's Overlook" ... with a new sign, too! (to be documented on a later post...)
Not all visitations require our friends to make the big trek up the Big Hill... We venture out sometimes too! Here are Parker and Sharon in their cabin on Gunflint Lake, where we joined them for a wonderful dinner at the Lodge, followed by the best pie I've ever had, EVER! Thanks, Sharon, wild raspberries, wild blueberries and those scrumptious peaches made a fabulous combination! No wonder they're smiling! 
Summer came late and left oh so quickly this year... but that brings fall and color in those hills...
 ...and color in our gardens....
Black eyed Susans...

Milkweed, the butterflies and bees just love it...

Beautiful "Strawberry Seduction" yarrow...

This pretty purple frondy stuff is native leadplant...

Canadian heather...

...and our blueberries are thriving... 'though the varmints (chipmunks) got all the berries this year...
The maples were already starting to pop in mid September...
 ...and the blaze of color just continued to be richer every day...
 ...and in every direction...
 Lots of rain this summer, in unusually large blasts of monsoon-style rainstorms, led to the Cascade River running at spring levels in the early autumn...

But that didn't stop us! Among the new projects happening at 
Cascade Bluff...

Our version of "The Big Dig"... 
 Whoa, what's that big truck doing all the way up here??

Hmmm.... Is it a giant punchbowl? A huge fish stew pot? 

...a place to hide skeletons? An extra large time capsule? 

Not sayin' just yet... once again, more on that later...

Our friend and contractor fixed up what was a pretty roughed up road from the extra long winter and some mighty big rains... and helped us make what was a very steep and rocky path through the woods into a nice smooth trail... drivable, even...
 Here's Dean on one of his mean little machines...
 How nice, somebody brought us some rocks... something comes to mind about "coals to Newcastle"...

Dean's really amazing with his rock picker...
 Val's quite sure she'd like one of those cute little do-dads...
 Dean built us a couple of new paths...
We call this one Independence Pass, 
'cause we cut the brush for this trail on July 4th. Dean made it smooth and easy...
 
And while we're at it, how about a fire pit? Sounds good to us...
 Voila, brand new fire pit, complete with grilling grates! 
 Here's that great new path, and a new rock retaining wall above it to hold the house and patio up...
 Val and Dean are taking a break and catching up on the latest news...
*

Here's the final results of our new paths, after we'd spread some fresh red pine wood chips... notice the new cherry tree...


 .... and Independence Pass, leading from the house and the gardens to the road and across to another trail into the woods... more on that later, too...
 Rosie isn't at all sure what she thinks of all this new gravel... But we are certainly pleased with it... funny how you can come to LOVE a fresh load of Class 5 gravel! 

Most of these visits and changes do in fact have something in common... but that's for the next posting, which I hope will be coming VERY SOON! And the colors on that one will make this posting look pale! 





Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Exuberant Spring After Slow Start

Greetings from Cascade Bluff, where spring came suddenly after a long slow start this year. Of course it is now fully summer but I had this pack of pix waiting to post from last month, so here goes... 

The view to Lake Superior was really vibrant and green...

...as was the view toward Cascade Mountain to our west...

...and even on gloomy days a bit of sunlight seems to always peek through and light up those trees...


Yours truly has been busy making mischief in the south side of our "yard" -- which is another word for our sloping area below the rock bed that holds up the ground surrounding our foundation. I discovered the soil out here has a pH of about 5, really acid, and did some research... guess what grows well in acid soil?
Blueberries! 
We made the nursery in Finland, MN quite happy when we stopped there in June and bought a bunch of blueberries, making sure we got at least 3 different types so they can cross-pollinate...
...and in future pix I hope to show the swirly spirals-in-circles pattern I am attempting to achieve out here... on a slope, no less...

Mmm... a few more long views of the glowing light on the spring foliage...


Now what would a blog post on "Kathy and Val's New World" be without an update about one of our whacky projects? Well, not much... and here is one of the latest projects.

We continue to be determined to use up all the leftover wood from our house construction. Some of it is starting to be a bit warped and doesn't look grand... but it is serviceable. Here we are taking advantage of some leftover Douglas Fir plywood, to make a storage cabinet/shelf for all our electronics that run our "communication network"...

...and without showing you all the sweating and minor cursing that went into design, measuring, creative use of mishaps, and all those great carpentry skills we are gaining, here is the finished product!

Not half bad for a couple of old bench wenches (see previous posts)!!

Spring brings thoughts of birds and bees... And speaking of birds, here is a robin's nest, parked right outside our front door. We checked... there were eggs... Now we are being very careful to use a different door so we don't disturb Mom and Dad too much... Perhaps we will have news of some hatchlings soon...
Last year's cherry tree looked lovely all dressed up in white blossoms... no pix yet but we added another cherry tree this year...
Our perennial rock garden looks just splendid! Everything seems to be doing well, even some of the plants that had yet to really bloom... Glad to see our ground phlox finally revived and put on a show...
A view up toward the solar clothes dryer...
Cute little candytuft... nice fragrance, too...
A new addition of pasque flowers... one of my personal favorite spring wildflowers....
Oh how our solar panels love the long hours of sunlight and all those photons showering down on them! 
Late in June the leaves were already completely full and thick...
...and the shining green against the sky's bright blue is always magnificent! 
But here's a reality shot of what it takes to be a tough northern gardener.
Here I am, decked out in my knee pads -- for kneeling and crawling around on soil that's basically, rocks -- my hand axe/fork tool -- for chopping out the many very tough and deep roots -- and my fashionable bug net shirt to keep out the hordes of black flies! 

Let's not forget our vegetable gardens...
With our cool slow spring, our cold frame (built last year but not used due to the amazingly warm spring of 2012) was great and kept tomatoes and broccoli alive and well and free of frost...
...green beans coming up...
...hoping to keep the weeds down with some straw mulch...
...and for tougher mulching duties, we visited our local lumber mill and bought a truck bed load full of red pine wood chip mulch...

...and are planning to "deploy" it around some of the trees and shrubs we've been planting all around...


...one last serene shot of spring light before I go...


We will be back soon with more... lots more! You won't believe what crazy stuff we are into up at Kathy and Val's New World... and what 2013 is going to bring for us! Stay tuned!