Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Let's Go Skiing!

Sunday was a lovely day. By lovely I mean the temperatures were in the twenties, there was very little wind, and there was no precipitation. A rare kind of day in January in the boreal forest of northeastern Minnesota. Since it was Sunday I also didn't have to be at my day job, just do a few things around the farm. The load of hay that we got on Thursday was all put away by Saturday afternoon, so I had a few hours of my own to enjoy on Sunday when I had recovered from the hay party.

I headed up the Gunflint Trail for a few miles and stopped at George Washington Pines to take a nice loop trail that is fairly flat for my first time on skis this winter.
I doubt that George Washington actually skied here unless he was getting acclimated to the winter for his Delaware River crossing, but they named it after him anyway.

I was the only vehicle in the parking lot and had the forest to myself which was kind of nice unless I got seriously injured and froze to death. I took my trusty TracFone which is what I used to take these pictures. I wanted to be sure I documented my demise for posterity.

Out on the trail I went. After about a quarter mile I ran across this by the side of the trail.
I wondered if the squirrels did it and if they ever take down their Christmas decorations. The trail was in good shape. As a multi use trail people can bring their dogs, go snowshoeing, or try skijoring if their dog is willing to drag them around.
There is a small lake just a few yards off the trail, but I decided not to venture out on it even though the ice is probably thick enough to drive on.
Then there are the pines. There is a stand of red pines that was planted, some about about a hundred years ago, after the earlier logging had taken everything available. They are coming along nicely, but I think they are protected now. Here are a few of them.
The trail was fast and there are just a few good downhill runs, but nothing too serious, and I managed to stay on my feet the whole time! My skis brought me safely back to the parking lot where three more vehicles had arrived and I said hello to an acquaintance and her dog before heading home.
Now I feel pretty confident about my replacement knees, too. It is supposed to be nice again this coming weekend. I wonder which trails I should try?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Return of the wayward pants - Update

About three and a half years ago we heard that there was a new resident in town ,about our age, who found herself recently petless. We were heavy on our feline quota and decided we could lighten our burden and help her out at the same time. It was a tough decision, but we decided to let two of our kitties try a different living situation.

Orange Mamalaid and Princess Puffy Pants were chosen after a very analytical process. After three days Mamalaid still hadn't come out of hiding in her new home, but Pants was adapting well to being a spoiled cat with no competition from ten others.

A few days ago I got a call from the woman who adopted her. She has a small active dog now and is about to get another puppy. Puffy Pants can tolerate dogs as long as she is left alone, but if provoked she will cut open an offending nose into three or four equal slices without hesitation. Most dogs learn this quickly, but puppies, not so much.

Saturday afternoon the Cooker and I went to bring her home. She is now purring in my lap as I try to write this which is kind of awkward, but after years of practice and constant editing of typos I can do it. Sort of.

Pants is back with only one new face to get used to since she and the other eight all knew each other before. Still a bit of hissing and growling, but no blood has been drawn, mine or anyone else's. So far. Here she is in all her fluffy glory.   

Welcome home Princess Puffy Pants!

Sunday, January 7, 2018


I am not much of a housekeeper. I have always taken the phrase, "An immaculate house is the sign of a misspent life," seriously. Oh sure, I vacuum weekly, do dishes daily, clean the cat boxes daily, clean cat barf as it happens or as it is discovered, laundry on weekends, but deep cleaning is a rarity. Especially the downstairs office and craft area. We all have levels of tolerance for filth and I really don't know how I compare to the rest of the world. Having animals inside and outside makes me think I can tolerate more of a mess than most, but at some point I can't stand it anymore and have to do something about it. In an ideal world that would be to call a cleaning or housekeeping service. When I have felt wealthier I have actually done that, but usually I don't feel like I can really afford it. Besides I would have to clean the place before a crew came in to keep from being embarrassed about living like this. I get builders magazines at work and the pictures from the latest designs in homes never look like anyone actually lives there. Everything is bare bones. I have seen homes like that, but I couldn't live in one and keep it like that for any length of time. Just too sterile.

The Cooker has an audit coming up for a client (she's a bookkeeper for income) and that happens in the downstairs office area. We knew this was coming up so we started last weekend. Heavy duty dusting and mopping happened last week. To prep for that a lot of stuff had to be moved and gone through. As long as that is happening a lot of "archives" turn up. Old photo albums get dusted off and everything gets taken apart, wiped down, admired, wondered about, and sometimes thrown out. Walls cleaned, paintings dusted, and the trophy walleye even got a fairly detailed cleaning without breaking the fins.

I even got to reorganize my photography, music, office stuff, photo albums, and other miscellaneous things that all got individually cleaned and put where I can see and find them again. A few things turned up that I had wondered about for some time. I should try and get rid of more things, but I need to get over my sentimentality a bit more.

The place is nearly presentable now. I also know that the first two thirds of my life I have accumulated things and now that I am well into the last third I need to get rid of things. Maybe I'll get serious about that in the Spring. Gotta go clean cat boxes now.  

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year

The holidays are about over for now and it has been cold. How cold? It was so cold that Pamela Anderson was downgraded from "hot" to "tepid". Football fans were actually ordering hot chocolate at the games. Scotsman started wearing pants. I used the snowblower on the floors instead of the vacuum this week.

Really, it wasn't all that cold. About -22F (-30C) was it, but the winds would howl for a couple of days at a time which really did hurt any exposed skin. As little was exposed as possible, but we still had to feed the horses, make sure they had water, and put them in the barn at night which entails cleaning it up the next day and getting it ready again. That meant being outside for an hour or two each day.

The birds at the feeders were pretty well fluffed up to stay warm. Here is a chickadee with a fluffed up look in order to better insulate against the elements.
The lake is still open as long as the surface stays above freezing. The cold, dry air forces evaporation into a roiling cloud of steam that looks like this.

When the temperature is about 10F the steam rises much more slowly and nearby ships are still easily visible.
Shipping season won't end for a couple of weeks yet, but the ships going by on the really cold days  take on a ghostly appearance when cruising through the steam.
Hopefully, at some point this month it will get above freezing for a couple of days before taking the plunge back down. The days are getting longer now and tomorrow night is a full moon, known as the wolf moon to the indigenous people here. The meaning can go either way to determine if it is a good thing or not. I'll let you all do that research if you wish to.
I haven't seen or heard much of the local wolves for a bit, but lately I have had little desire to stand outside listening for any length of time or going for a hike to look for tracks. Maybe when it warms up a little.

Then there is the calendar issue. I was finally getting pretty good at knowing and writing 2017 correctly and consistently when all of a sudden they go and change it again. It takes me a little longer each year to get used to it and practice until I get it right and then it changes once again. I wish they could just pick a year and stay with it, but no, they can't put all those calendar makers out of work. That must be the reason, right? What else could it be? Maybe someone smarter than me could figure out a compromise.

Happy New Year everyone!