Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Iceland dreams

I was daydreaming about Iceland the other day and decided to check up on my friends at Polar Hestar. They have a webcam that takes pictures in front of their barn. Sometimes there is snow and sometimes not. Even the dog and cat show up. Then, sometimes, they get a bunch of people to start getting the horses in shape for the summer tours. There was a little longing in my heart when I saw this a few days ago.
 When I went out for a few hours with one of the young women who worked there we went around that rocky peninsula in the background and along the edge of the village of Genevik before getting back to the farm. We got close to the fjord across from where my grandfather was born.

Needless to say, I get a little dreamy when I see this sort of thing.

Friday, March 23, 2012

News from Iceland

In today's Iceland Review is a story that in this relatively sleepy, but magical country, is typical of small town news. Two lovers caught doing what they do in someone's truck (any port in a storm). It's always good to start the day with a chuckle or two, especially at someone else's expense. Here it is.

23.03.2012 | 00:00

Lovers Left Red-faced
A local man from Selfoss on a quiet evening stroll was surprised to find a truck belonging to a fellow local lit-up and parked in an isolated area. When the owner arrived to turn off the lights, he was surprised to find a pair of lovers in the seat of the vehicle making love, who in the heat of the moment hit the light switch by accident.
Summertime in Selfoss. Photo by Páll Stefánsson. 
Upon getting caught, they escaped in different directions sheltered by the night as they got dressed.
However, the owner of the truck was happy to discover the truck started at first go and that the lights had not drained the battery, reports. 

Aaahh, young love.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

International Talk Like William Shatner Day

Today is William Shatner's 81st birthday and was officially declared International Talk Like William Shatner Day way back in 2009. Shatner 's break came when he was an understudy to Christopher Plummer at the Stratford Shakespeare  Festival doing HenryV. Mostly famous as Captain Kirk from the original Star Trek series and subsequent movies, Shatner is known for his overacting ability and self parody among other things. As an avid horseman he can't be all bad and with a good sense of humor can stand being the butt of some jokes.
Anyway, here's to you Bill! Many happy returns!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Spring has sprung about 6 weeks early. The porcupine and woodchuck were right! I think a groundhog and woodchuck are about the same thing. Who would have ever thought we would stay 15 to 30 degrees above average for weeks on end. Several bird species are back early and the dirt in the greenhouse is at 50 degrees. Stitch might get some leaf lettuce planted today. Of course there is a down side. The forest might burn up if we don't get some precipitation. Yes, yes, I know talking about the weather is considered "small talk", but for those of us who spend a lot of time outside and don't live in a city or town, it is a major player. Besides, this is Minnesota where small talk has been taken to an art form.

I felt the need to document this odd March with photos around the farm, so here are a couple. It shouldn't look like this until early May.
 There is still some snow in the woods and in the low spots, but it won't last a week if things keep going the way they are. Even the piles from the driveway are dying a quick and merciful death.
I finally started to ride again. I hadn't ridden a horse since the week before my surgery last Halloween. My horse, Draugen, had only been borrowed a couple of times this winter, so I spent a little time with him a few days ago and yesterday doing a little ground work to make sure I had his attention. I saddled him up and we went out for a very short (20 minutes or so) ride around the farm in the dry places. The woods are a little slimy yet. All went well. We mostly walked, but did a little trotting and when I got off I felt great. No pain or discomfort (to either of us) and he was a perfect gentleman, as usual. When I was walking around taking pictures this morning I was going to take his, but his head was still down inhaling his breakfast. At least the Colonel, our beloved mule, came over to see what was up. Here he is.

As I was walking around, in my slippers no less, I wanted to see if the round pen had dried up enough to use. I am not sure if it has because I didn't want to disturb one of our four-footed neighbors who was wandering around in that vicinity.
So that is Sunday morning on our little farm at the edge of the boreal forest.

Spring has sprung,
The grass is riz.
I wonder where
The flowers is?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Quick trip

No, I didn't stumble. At least that is not what this is about. It was my brother's turn for a biopsy, so I went to the Twin Cities to accompany him to the procedure. It was pretty uneventful, fortunately and I got a few errands done. For example, I cashed in my enormous pile of gold stuff. Yes, I am being facetious here. I haven't worn my high school class ring since she took it off over 40 years ago. There were a couple of other odds and ends that I am no longer sentimental about so I decided to cash it in for a future trip to Europe, probably accompanied by the aforementioned brother. If you remember this post where I learned the monetary value of gold, you won't believe that I found a refiner that would buy from the general public. It more than covered the expenses of the trip. So I got much closer to the actual value of the metal by avoiding the middle man.

I took my camera and a "new" old lens I bought off ebay for about $35. I took a slow trip home and stopped at a rest area and found this:
 I thought I wasn't in a hurry, but I didn't think it was "lumbering".  So I get through Duluth and pull off at Brighton Beach. Not much sand, but what's in a name? I looked back toward Duluth and it looked like this:
Stopped by the Beaver River which was still frozen, but there were a few folks hangin' out at the beach.
Before you get to Grand Marais there is a sharp bend in the road and the rock referred to locally as the "rock cut". From there you can see Coast Guard point or Artist's Point jutting out from town into the lake forming the harbor.
 Right before I turn up the hill to go home, after driving along the lake for about 120 miles, is another part of the shore near Five Mile Rock, which is, you know, five miles from town. A lot of people stop here to do some beach combing for driftwood and agates and anything else of interest to drag home. It is part of my daily drive to work. Sure beats the hell out of rush hour in the city.
A few miles later I was back on the farm.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Home improvement

We are embarking on the world's slowest kitchen remodel this week. A friend and I built this house back in 1994 and the Cooker and I moved in before we had any finished walls. The kitchen and living/dining area had ceilings, but that was it. The old (1915) farmhouse had kicked us out when the septic system started backing up and the carbon monoxide detector finally went off due to the cracked heat exchanger in the furnace. The well had been contaminated for years.It was the week before Thanksgiving and the cooker made dinner on the two burner camp stove in what would be the utility room as that was where the water was. The refrigerator was in the living room. Within a few weeks we had a functioning kitchen and bathroom as the propane was running out in the old house and it would soon freeze up. We had been running back and forth moving things and taking showers there.

Our new kitchen was about 8'x18' and pretty nice, but not fancy. So 18 years later we are starting a slow remodel. The reason is twofold. One, we don't adapt to quick changes as well as we used to and two, we are not as wealthy as we deserve to be. So we started out with the vent hood. Our original was your basic $100 variety with a light bulb and a fan that made noise like it was sucking bad air out of the house, but in reality didn't do that very well. A kitten at its mother's teat has more suction than that fan. So, after much online research I sent the Cooker and Stitch to the really Big City of Duluth to get one. Even down there they had to order it and were able to bring it back home a week and a half ago. Time to figure out how to get the old one out and the new one in.

I remembered putting in the original by myself. That included cutting the hole in the wall and installing the outside vent. Since it was long ago, the only details I remembered were swearing a lot, sweating a lot and bleeding a little. Being older and presumably wiser, I decided to get some help this time. I called my friend, Mr. Amazing, who I worked with regularly a few years ago doing mostly carpenter type work. Mr Amazing is a little more than half my age, a couple of inches taller, way stronger, and according to the Cooker and Stitch, quite a piece of eye candy. I'll mention that to his wife.

The old  hood came out pretty easily, but it was unbelievably greasy in the places you can't get to. In an awesome display of teamwork, with fitting it in place and me holding it while Mr. Amazing did the screwing (which is only right as he is younger and more virile) of the hood into place, the worst was over. The wiring was simple, but awkward. I still bled a little from that, but it was Mr. Amazing who was able to get the grounding wire attached. I turned the breaker back on and, lo and behold, the thing actually worked!    
Now that it is in we have tried it twice. The halogen lights a great and the blower is four times as powerful and four times quieter than its predecessor.  I'll pick up a stainless back splash soon and when we get this paid for and start putting away a few sheckles, the next thing will be the stove.

One of the reasons for a better vent hood is this:
 This is Kong, the 800 pound gorilla (deep fat fryer) in the room. We don't eat a lot of fried food, but when we do it we do it right. A good vent is a must for one of these, otherwise you go to work the next day smelling like a french fry. Strange dogs want to be your best friend. It is especially nice when the women come home after a successful fishing expedition and fishing opener is only 2 months away. Yummy!