Pictures from 2010

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Lots of snow by JanuaryWalls going up. Lots of T&GScott & Chris with El Nino
kitchenbathelectricalfurnace and CT
May in Nova Scotiastucco finishedfloating the Grand Canyon
plants in the greenhouseLeaves fallingWinter returns
Bess at off lead Winter Dog checking each other out
Bess at off leadWinter Dogchecking each other out
Bess and Karen off lead Bess and King Bess and Ranger
Bess and Karen off leadBess and KingBess and Ranger


15 November 2010

After unseasonably warm days in early November, winter returns. The November cloudy & cold period will test the greenhouse which at this writing does not yet have the water bag heat storage...maybe today. I must admit to taking on other tasks instead of steadily working on the construction. Tomorrow I go to Grand Marais for a sausage making class. Thanks to Mike Barard for taking care of our pig, Daryl this last summer; we will cherish him with every bite. Also wanted to get cages around as many of the growing trees as possible to protect from the many deer; this part of the state has the most intense hunting season as there are so many deer. Finally got the Grand Canyon pictures and report done and up on the website. If you get together with us, we can show you the many more beautiful pictures. Now that we are mostly over nasty colds, we hope to get out more.

After thinking that the mushrooming season was over, the warm and wet period lately brought out several cuties including a tree ear/Auricularia last week. Check out the Myco observations page for more on that. Gene also got a microscope and began informal classes in mycological microscopy. There are lots of mushrooms that can only be positively identified by looking at their spores or other structures microscopically. It would be fun if one of the grandkids took an interest.

Haven't seen much of the kids. They have their life. Soyeon got a job! Karen has been staying in touch with sister Sue and hopes to go to Florida with her again if finances can be arranged. Karen is also enjoying lunches and errand running with Laura, her Dad's companion who recently had her 97th birthday. No one is surprised anymore that because one is retired does not mean you have more time to stay in touch with friends.

Looking forward to snowshoeing and winter activities.


25 October 2010

Several changes, minor but significant during the last week. The leaves are down, which increases visibility in the woods; nice for walks. Mushrooming is done for the year; lots in the freezer and dried; lots of polypores around yet, but that's for another year. Brought up transplants for the now nearly full greenhouse beds; they look great with something in them. Normally, one needs to start plants in August for a winter greenhouse, but that didn't happen. So I took the less advisable transplants which can bring little meanies along; I suspect that pest control is in the future. The heating season began with our first small fire in the heater; not needed most days as the passive solar keeps it nice in here.

At present, a week of rainy (and yes, a chance of snow) cold weather forecast means more fires in the near future. Lots of tasks to do before freeze-up which is usually early to mid-November. Real soon.


1 October 2010

We spent most of September in the Grand Canyon. We returned to yellow and red trees starting to lose their leaves. There was 2"1/2 in the rain gauge, and the minimum temp had been 31 F. Hummingbirds are gone and the junkos are back. It is autumn, for sure. The morel spawn stalled that I planned to seed into a bonfire spot; perhaps next year. Lots to do before freeze-up. Still waiting for our solar contractor to finish the hot water system; soon. The slate for the floors is due for delivery. The hydronic furnace is in place and needs me to connect it up. Looking forward to the first fire in the masonry heater.

Paul and Teresa trained us in for monitoring for Minnesota Land Trust. Pretty easy and very interesting people. It is a great program that saves some of our great land.

We are still shuttling between Duluth and St Paul until we sell the duplex. Looking forward to a new tennant moving in. Also worth traveling to meet with the MN Mycological Society monthly meetings. Gene's son Peter and family were in Niagra Falls when we left; need to catch up with them.


23 August 2010

Hot and sticky days, thunderstorms, cool nights. Dusk is coming a bit sooner and the Summer night sky is moving on. The woods out front are lovely, and the bird feeder is busy with woodpeckers, red breasted nuthatches, goldfinches, and the occasional warbler, flycatcher, or others. Alsways blue jays and ravens. Hawks and turkey vultures soaring and circling. The neighborhood fox are about but a bit more shy lately.

Work on the house continues. The greenhouse beds are nearing completion; need to work in the early morning there. The stucco is virtually done....YEA! Plumbing is coming along; need the solar tech to complete. Hooking up the in floor heating system is starting to sound like a good idea; it won't be long. Hooking up the greywater system is in the mix soon. Slate and tile will be delivered in late September, so that goes on soon after. When the floors are on, we can begin moving for real. Karen has been sorting out books that we want to move and boxing them up.

We will be on a Grand Canyon dory trip for a big part of September. Over 200 rapids and lots of canyons to hike. This is the trip that calibrates other vacations. Of course, late September is lovely up north; the pests are mostly gone (2 and 6 legged) and temps are moderate. Many things to do.....

We had a good mushroom foray with the MN Mushroom Society at Wild River last Saturday. I found more and larger hedgehog mushrooms than I have before, and plety of chantrelles. A foraging trip to St Croix SP a few weeks ago netted lots of chantrells and five King Boletes. Our land also has a surfeit of lobster mushrooms which are tasty and filling. Our mushroom meals are pretty steady. I'm trying to promote chantrelles and edulis on the land using the spores of collected mushrooms. Having the right species of trees is important, and I just finished putting deer fence around my little oak grove, some two feet hight now.


23 July 2010

Summer is moving along towards Fall. The raspberries and thimbleberries are ripe, blackberries not far behind, and a few of the puple asters and tansy are blooming. Heard the last of the hermit thrush song for the year. Aspen and Birch Boletes from the land are tasty additions to the table.

Karen has picked up a couple of temp jobs, and is quickly recovering from her knee surgery. Even so, she's spending more time up north with me. Both places are "home" now. Much to say for both; trying to pick the best.

The stucco is going on slowly between other tasks and rainstorms. Much work to do on the plumbing and greenhouse yet, but it's coming. I'm more relaxed about it now. What do you mean, "finished."


21 July 2010

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of joining the Paul Bunyan club on a mushrooming foray south of Walker, MN. The haul was chanterelles, black trumpets, an edible white coral fungus, and a beautiful King Bolete / Boletus edulis. And a walk in the woods with good people. The next day, Karen and I had an omlet with the coral fungus, chantrelles on toast with hummus and fresh tomatoes for lunch, and a luscious sauteed bolete on chicken with noodles for dinner. Wonderful. Before returning to St Paul, I found a birch bolete that made a gourmet mushroom soup the next day. Mycology is very rewarding.

... 20 July 2010


Early last month we enjoyed a trip to the Canadian shore of Lake Superior at the Rossport Kayak Symposium. For the next few years it is run by Naturally Superior in Wawa while Dave Tamblyn finishes his administative educational career. Dave from Wawa is very good at outfitting, too. At least these two Canadian adventure organization do wonderfully at promoting their young staff; moreso than many US companies I've met. We stayed with our friends Billy Jo and Bill Keating at B&B On the Beach. Billy Jo used to waitress at the Rossport Inn where we previously stayed; she is a treat. Bill is a locomotive engineer on the Cannadian National. We used to go out from dinner at the Inn and wave at him going by. Now they are starting their own business at a knockout beautiful lakeshore home with a second floor deck overlooking the lake and Rossport Islands. She continues to cook and elegantly serve breakfast. It's a treat. Go there and enjoy.

We had the joy of going with Daryl to the former site of his "camp"--what might be called a cabin in the US--at Jackfish Bay. The area is chockablock with history and very beautiful. His camp was burned out last year by a wildfire. Daryl is a young contract instructor in outdoor adventure at Lakehead College. He and his small children deserve to rebuild his camp. We are invited back and I supremly hope we will do that multiple times.

The day after we returned to St Paul, Karen went in for her first bionic knee. She was blessed with a great surgeon, a wonderful hospital and staff, and returned home in three days skipping the care facility recommended. She was good with her physical therapy and soon gave up the cane...before I could provide the promised willow walking stick. So just when she had help arranged and I returned up north, she got a temp job in downtown Mpls. and I returned to ferry her arround; she could have coped, but..... She continues to improve like a superstar. Our goal is to make the hikes in the Grand Canyon in September. I've been doing some simple weight training when I'm not working on the house, too.

Work continues on the house. Stucco, the finish coat, is the priority, along with plumbing when the weather is acting up. Work on the greywater greenhouse has sppurted, also. We should be living here this fall!


10 June 2010

We spent the last week in May in Nova Scotia (see Marilyn) where we paid respects to our good friend Marilyn McGuire, and spent some time touring this lovely part of Cananda. It was great, but eight days with five people in a car is interesting, also. We'd like to return there to do some of the things we missed.

On returning to the land, some of the bird feeders were empty and the pine siskins were gone. A few red-breasted nuthatches and the occasional chicakee, but nothing like before we left. I assumed that it would just take a few days to get back to 'normal' but as of today, that hasn't happended. Perhaps the onset of bugs means they are feeding their young with a better food source. Woodpeckers and Blue Jays are the most frequent visitors. Strange.

I'ts been wet here, and expecting more this week. I think that's good. But not for stucco. Lots else to do. I have been finding Oyster Mushroom in the woods growing on dead aspens; yum! Several meals of them so far. I've ordered spawn for shitake, reishi, and chicken of the woods so I can grow other mushrooms, and perhaps get them stared on stumps and logs. I'm really enjoying identifying the fungi on the land, even the inedible ones. More to come.


18 May 2010

Early May is about the best it gets up here. The temps are reasonable, rain doesn't create a mess, and NO BUGS yet. We've had rain enough for now, but lake levels are still low. I find myself in awe of the gorgeous place I find myself.

The birds are busy and songful. I've started to accumulate my observations and will post it on this site...eventually. As we suspected, there are different birds at the feeder and the shelter (more warblers).

Several more construction milestones: refrigerator and stove in, propane in, roof finished on the greenhouse and entryway. Next to finish the stucco and water plumbing. I'm losing the "camp" feel up here, although others may disagree.

We've had more guests up, staying in the shelter. We plan a trip to Nova Scotia soon to spread Marilyn's ashes; while we are away, our good friend and professional Peter S. will be staying in the house and taking care of our dogs....what a treat!


May 2010

Music is in Duluth. We recently attended an organ concert at Sacred Heart. The now music hall is a wonderfully acoustic former church complete with huge pipe organ. Understand that it is available for weddings, also. We may get involved here.

We still need to check out the Duluth orchestra, the jazz fest, choral music, and hope to do some lute music at St Scholastica. Lots to do (yeah!).


7 May 2010

Spring seems to be here, with balmy weather interspersed with threats of snow.

Lake levels are low and until this week, the woods were dangerously dry. After a week of rain, the land is getting soggy again. That means the trees are leafing out, and the first black flies can't be far behind.

In addition to wathcing the change in bird species, the trees and plants are doing their spring thing. Only flowers so far are anenomes, hepatica, and one-flowered wintegreen. Some of the grasses are blooming already.

Karen and I prioritized the next 24 things to complete on the house; the roof came right after the electrical system. Other items fit in the spaces; seems strange to have a refrigerator when the cooler was just fine most times. Soon will have the propane installed so I can cook on more than one burner. Next up: stucco!


14 April 2010

Late this afternoon, I did something that I haven't done for a long, long time. I took my dog, a beer, a bowl of chips and sat outside the house and just watched the evening come on. Very nice, content, even peaceful. A couple of days ago, I passed the final electrical inspection on the house. I've been working and losing sleep, and straining my relationships for months--almost a year--to get there. Yes! A couple of days ago, I hooked up the main power to my service panel and began to test circuits. Those I was most worried about--the ones that took much contemplation and were the most complicated--worked without a hitch. Yeah! All the other issues except one were bad fixtures that I isolated and replaced. I'm amazed and a little sad that I don't need the kerosene laterns as much. It is much too bright in here. How easily we adapt.

The first of this year's visitors showed up and stayed in the shelter. Of course the weather took a turn for the colder. I borrowed him my winter bag and he did well. Nice having company. More to come this month.

While all that was going has beeen a long, long time since I added to this...Karen started spending more time up here, and we put up a bird feeder outside the windows; an attractive nuisance when I'm trying to get things done. The spring panoply of birds shows itself. Our winter friends were first: pine siskins, junkos, red breasted nuthatches, chickadees, hairy and downy woodpeckers, and (flying over and talking) ravens. The pileated woodpeckers are drumming and the chickadees have their spring "Hey, Sweetie!" song. Purple finches joined us. This week saw the first goldfinch, flicker and mourning dove, and I heard the loons again. At least one tree sparrow stopped by on it's way to the tundra for a couple of days, and a bright yellow evening grossbeak showed. Even a pair of white-breasted nuthatches made an appearance.

Funny what you see when you take the time to look..


6 March 2010

Making progress on the house. Lots of tounge & groove installed inside the walls. This is needed to complete the final electrical inspection, due in April. Also working on the solar hot water system, and planning for the greenhouse.

The passive solar is working! I'm on the fourth day when a fire is not necessary; the temp is 60 to 70 inside.

Karen convinceed me to put up a bird feeder two weeks ago. This has proven to be an attractive niusance for me trying to get something done.

The third day after the feeders were installed, a pair of pine siskins found the finch feeder. Then their friends showed up. And red breasted nuthatches found the sun seeds. Nearly a week later, the first hairy woodpecker found the suet feeder. The first chickadees were a few days later; odd in that these are the first arrivals at the pond by the shelter. When the sun seeds were gone, the RBNs attacked the peanut feeder, too. So now I have a new task, keeping the feeders going . But it's all part of the fun in the woods.


15 March 2010

We had a great time at the Sax Zim Birding Festival. It's an hour away and doing the evening programs and getting there early for dawn trips left us pretty sleep deprived by Sunday. Add to that helping a neighbor look for a lost horse one night and I'm reminded of college days, getting along on a few hours sleep and napping when I could.

I'm told that this is the only winter birding festival in the USA. It's the place heavy duty birders come to see owls, especially the great grey owl. They come down when food gets scarce farther north, but although there have been many reports in Minnesota, we missed them here. We did see many Hawk Owls which perch at the top of trees so they are quite visible, and not easily spooked. We caught a Boreal Chickadee to add to our list; much more timid than the Black Capped, it's somewhat hard to find. Also saw many Pine Grosbeaks, Common Redpoll, and a very plain white hoary redpoll. Also roughed grouse, ravens, crows, black capped chickadees, and other common birds.

Sunday we took a trip to rural (is there any urban?) Aitkin County where we saw Sharp Tailed Grouse on their leks until people got out of the bus; quite early for them yet; later they wouldn't mind. The simile was made to a singles bar where the males strut their stuff, females make their choice, and everyone takes off. Also saw a couple of Goshawks in the distance. We stopped at a couple of feeding stations where we enjoyed the bright yellow Evening Grosbeaks. Snow chased us out of the area.

The fesitval is a home-grown activity limited to 150 participants, centered in the small town community center in Meadowlands, uses school buses for the trips, and has wonderful speakers. Kim Risen spoke Friday night. He is local, but spoke on birding in Mexico where he guides. Great show. Saturday night included Al (from New Richland) who is funny and inspirational....and an avid birder with great stories.

On the bus, we played with our new smartphones (Android), but rural Aitkin County has remote spots, as I found out calling to wish my son happy birthday. We need them because I'm losing my data card supplied by work for up north. We're giving up our land line in St Paul to help pay for them. There is an application PDANet that works for tethering to our computers for internet access. Much more on these machines than we need or want, but several things we do that work well.

There just might be some nice things about living here!


10 February 2010

Lovely, sunny day in the 20's F. Karen and I drove into town for appointments and shopping; lunch at Burrito Union.

We had a great snowshoe out to the shelter and through the woods. Took the dogs on their leashes which is always a task, but it went well. Gorgeous out in the woods with snow everywhere and the sun shining.

Put up bird feeders (peanut and suet) in front; no activity yet. Would love to see the flock of Bohemian waxwings we saw a month ago, although I know an irruption of them means they are having trouble finding food. Looking forward to the Sax Zim Bog festival this weekend.