Pictures from 2014

January Goldfinch Flock

Cats by the heater

Dogs in the sun on the warm slate floor

Lots of snow

Gene at BLEC snowshoe workshop

A surprise shitake from the log

April Greenhouse looking good

Canoe building workshop at Boulder Lake EC

St Louis River at Jay Cooke still high in June

Inaugural Paddle of the 24' Canoe

Gene's New Toy

Lots of Lobsters this year

September greenhouse full of tomatoes and cukes

'innards' of the bake oven

Emily (Cable Museum) and Britt Bunyard

Mt. Ranier from NAMA foray site

Finished Bakeoven (so far)

Dog City in the Sun


12 Dec 2014
The greenhouse picture says it: a month of mostly clouds...still. We had some below zero F nights, too. Although the picture was taken a month or more ago, nothing much has changed. The tomatoes are now inside and ripening, mostly. But the raab, arugula, and chard just survives. I'm unwilling to pump more heat into it, though. About the end of January with sunny days, things will take off.

Karen is still working in the twin cities, so the animals and me are taking lots of walks and keeping the house warm. We had a spell of bad car times and now have two new (to us) 2008 Subaru Foresters. The AWD is great on roads up here. The first I found with a dealer in Cedar Rapids so Karen drove me down and visited Jodie in Iowa City--a nice visit. The second was necessitated by an inopportune meeting of the VW with a one hurt, but the car totaled by the insurer, not extensive damage. So we're a little car poor right now until we can sell the duplex. We had a showing with a dealer who wants to arrange a one-time showing soon. We'll see.

Had a nice Thanksgiving with neighbors. Karen has been connecting with friends down south, too. This weekend would be when we had our holiday party in St Paul each year. Miss all the friends; fewer up here, as expected.

We have a few trips planned. Winter is a good time for that. The 'Winter Garden'--going through the records from last year and ordering seeds--is fun in the doldrums of December, also. Oh, and then there is the list of things that needs to be finished on the house.....oh.....gotta go now.


12 Nov 2014
We are a few days into the first real snow of the year. November is the cruelest month for solar: cold and cloudy. So I'm finally taking some time at the window-desk to update web things and watch for the sun to peek out.

Got the plow on the truck yesterday for the winter. About 6" of snow to get started. Wood is mostly in the woodshop staying dry now. It was close as I didn't quite have enough. Planned on buying wood together with the Frisbys but, with wet weather and rising prices our source dried up. Scott got another provider late this Fall--all birch--so split and stacked the rest I needed for this year. Need to do next year's and beyond this winter. In the interim, Karen did a great job of salvaging older but still good wood on piles about the property. Think we are OK now.

One of the joys of living here is having neighbors to share tasks. Dog sitting is major for us, and Scott and Chris have been great. Just returned their dogs; four is a bit much for one person. Cute to see them all sacked out in the sun (for a couple of hours). Walking four dogs is....intereting.

Karen is working in the cities for awhile to save up for trips. I get along way to well on my own. Also means she won't be singing in the DSSO performance this Saturday. Another opportunity later if the job doesn't last too long. She is also now on the board for Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center with a meeting this weekend. She put together a great package for a Duluth visit for their fundraiser which went well. Good to know.

We were a bit dismayed at the national election. With Congress more completely dysfunctional I'm afraid the rednecks and reactionaries will be looking to rip and tear for the two years they have. Minnesota seems to be holding it's own. I try not to get political most times.

Got our meat for the year from Beaver Creek farm. Great pastured pork, lamb, and chickens direct from the farmer at affordable prices; good people. They will be taking orders in the early Spring for Fall, and chickens and eggs during the summer. This year we shared with Susan Scherer and our neighbors Hillary and Martha. Next up: makin' bacon!


October 2014
This has been the kind of Fall we haven't had for awhile. Warm, sunny days and cool nights, and great fall colors. The garden produce kept right on coming, and the greenhouse is full of tomatoes and cukes. Good crops of onions, kabocha squash, carrots, cabbage and leeks to harvest later. Deferred cutting wood with the 'imminent' truckload of wood (I'm waiting....).

Good to have friend Susan Scherer for a visit early this month, and back to make sausage later.

Gene returned to Cloquet Forestry Center to do the 'Lost in the Woods' station at Forest Conservation Days. Hundreds of fifth graders (fifteen at a time) eager to build a shelter. We've done a lot with Minnesota Land Trust monitoring this year as well. Karen is getting more involved with Sugarloaf Cove; we re-stained the Center on a Volunteer day.

Gene attended the North American Mycological Association foray near Seattle, close to Mt. Ranier. Great site in the rain forest although it's a bit dry now. Good to see the people, hike the woods, learn things.

Taking care of the duplex in St Paul is taking us away a bit more than we'd like. One showing but still for sale, although we took down the online page while we were away. Soon.


July-August 2014
What's big and ugly and beautiful and really moves things? Gene realized a wish and got a backhoe/loader, a Case 580L to dig gravel, move snow, uproot stumps,....well, a lot of things. Perhaps a bit of a toy, but a good one. Should come in handy if we build a barn.

Back at home, the fungi were poppin. Lots of winecaps from the garden, lobsters in the woods, and others. Because of his foot problems, Gene did not do the fungal inventory walks at Boulder Lake this year. Great veges in the garden; better than last year. Tomatoes started producing for real in August with the cucumbers a bit later.

As we have the last couple of years, we headed out across Ontario and Quebec to Maine. This time for the NEMF foray and a mycology course at Eagle Hill. Good people, lots of mushrooms,....another good trip.


5 July 2014
A fine summers day; a bit too hot for me and T-storms possible; watered the garden nicely last night. Wildflowers are all over. Flower bed in front of the windows has gone through a nice cycle: daffodils, pasque flower, poppies, iris, and bee balm and purple coneflower coming; wire cover kept the deer off it. Trimmed around elderberries and cranberries near the house; need to mulch and add compost to more. Transplanted trees in the woods are doing well inside the cages: oak, white cedar and black cherry. Previously planted white pines and spruce are doing well, and some survivor red and white cedars look good; a lot of caging to do.

Started work on the bake oven outside. Need to move the pile of 'topsoil' piled when excavating for the house anyway, and decided to screen it to get the gravel and clay I need for the oven and other things. Miss the bake oven in the masonry heater.

Garden and greenhouse are doing well. Tomatoes climbing, blossoming with little green fruit. Four cukes and six peppers survived the slugs; one climbing. Bel Fiore radiccio is very nice, mild, pretty; headding up loosely and some bolting. Thinned carrots two weeks ago; big tops. Harvesting turnips, one beet, and chard. First broccoli today; row cover may have helped through spring challenges. Squash at third leaf stage; kabocha failed except one plant; thinned zukes and yellows.

Moderate year for mushrooms. Wine caps are still fruiting (started early June); need to feed them. Mediocre harvest of oyster mushrooms; dried extra. Two picks of morels in early June; dried a few. Aspen scabers starting; Karen doesn't like them but they do well with bacon and onion saute.


21 Feb 2014
A day of moving snow. We got 14 to 16 inches yesterday and last night. Plowed out but running out of places to put the snow. I'm plowing out my neighbor, also. With all the snow, I had to push to the sides each time so it took a long time. Snowshoed out to the shelter and got the snow off, and opened up the ski trail. Had to shovel out our front walk where the snow slid off the greenhouse (many feet of snow). Brushed off the solar panels. A lot of snow and its blowing now. Impresses me again that one must stay fit and take care of repairs oneself to live up here.

But what a great place to live!


07 Feb 2014
What a joy that the days are getting longer and brighter. The greens in the greenhouse are finally starting to grow again, and the house and solar hot water are warmer. Yesterday we snowshoed out to another wood pile in the woods; it was sunny and beautiful out even though it was about 10 F. It's being a long cold strech and the animals are sticking close to the heater, except for Bea, our outside dog but even she picks up her feet from time to time. We've been having big fires and cooking most nights in the bake oven. Messing about with wood takes a good bit of time but is enjoyable work. After snowshoeing in and hauling a sled load out, the path freezes into a solid walkway that the sled slides over easily with a load of wood cut and stacked last November.

Gene's been working on the heat in place except to finish the ductwork and wiring. Next comes the steam shower, albeit a bit overdue. Keeping the drives plowed is another necessary and actually sort of enjoyable task.

Saw our first Evening Grosbeak of the year today, a pair of females. No sign of redpols, siskins, purple finches, or other grosbeaks. The woodpecker show goes on; many hairy and downy woodpeckers and signs of local pileated. The red-bellied has not shown up again.

Winter is a time for planning. We look forward to volunteering at Boulder Lake Envirnomental Center throughout the year; Gene will run a Greenland style double-bladed paddle class in April. Also, we will be visiting Alaska for the first time in May; unfortunately, this is the best time to be on the land. Would be nice to find a house sitter for that time. A BWCA solo trip is in there for June. In August we will return to Eagle Hill for a mycology class, and in October Gene plans to go to the NAMA foray in Washinton state. Lots to do.


05 Jan 2014
Fire is started. Big chunks of maple and birch to get us through the night. I (Gene)am so thankful for our life here and a partner who shares many of my values. She just waited for the little downy woodpecker to finish eating the suet to restock the sun seed on our feeder. The solar system is working again! We showered this afternoon. We have electric backup, but choose to live within our ability.

I wish to live a life of gratitude.


02 Jan 2014
A New Year at -30F is still nice to see. Dressing for it and staying active help. Loading up the heater with our best wood for a big fire each night and a couple of morning fires. Managed to cut and sled in a couple of birches when it warmed up to 20F recently althought the snow is pretty deep. We snowshoed out with the dogs to pull in the first sleds; after it freezes, we can all walk on the trails. Put up a picture of the sun dogs we had recently.

Tough on the deer. There is a deer highway across the lawn and through the woods...and to our bird feeder. Birds are tanking up on the extra suet we put out. There is a small flock of Goldfinches that have not migrated. All the birds' feathers are puffed up. Karen says she has seen wolf tracks on the road several times; haven't heard them. The snow cover makes finding browse hard for the deer, but good for our planted trees!

We got our annual pork, lamb and poultry from the farmer. Made sausage this week and it came out well. Just finished up the leeks and still have cabbage and kabocha from the garden that does pretty well in the greenhouse. We added a freezer this fall and hope to be down to one again soon; nice to have the food stored.

The dogs love the snow and Star submarines into the drifts. A bit extra time putting on their booties so they don't get snowballs and stop often to chew them out; they can cause bleeding feet, too. Bea is an outside dog and goes out into the fenced in yard several times a day; Star not so often. Bea has taken a long time, but plays more, 'spronging' in the snow, tossing a ball for herself, and playing with Star. She has also become much more affectionate. Still weird; fits. When dog food hit $45 a bag we started cooking most of the dogs' food; this works very well and they lick their bowls clean. Current recipe: 2 c brown rice, 1 c regular oats, 1 c barley, 1/3 c lentils, 1-2 c veges on hand, 6 1/2 c water or meat stock. This gives a bit more than 1/2 week meals combined with some dry food and either a hard-boiled egg or 1-2 T cottage cheese.

Both of us have been helping out at Boulder Lake Environmental Center near us. Gene helped John with a snowshoe class and Karen built wreaths for their annual sale. The nature walks are off at this time but we still get out a little skiing and snowshoeing.

Karen had a great concert with the DSSOC in November, Mozart mass in C minor. We are enjoying a part subscription to the DSSO. Also caught the Rose Ensemble at Sacred Heart. Karen gets into town more often to practice for choir and DSSO and her YWCA workout still going strong. Her friend JoLee from choir moved to Florida, so lunches there will be with other friends.