What We've Been Up To....

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Last Year in Pictures


Updated semi-spasmodically....

Cass comes to the woods

Winter Comes
The mistake was when humans thought they were the most intelligent species; but we are only part of an intelligent system.- Ernst Gotsch ..........
I find the notion that the universe is absurd to be a great comfort. Absurdity is head and shoulders above malevolence. - John Straley
Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do. --Wendell Berry

Surprise and delight are only possible when things don’t go according to plan.


20 Feb 2021
Intimations of vernality...things are pointing toward Spring. The pileateds are hammering for all they're worth, we're eating dinner without turning the lights on, the chikadees are singing their "hey sweetie".... After a couple months of just surviving, the greenhouse plants are starting to grow a bit. Even though we had -39 F last week the solar meter is showing good electric gains.

Some signs of winter still: Pine Grosbeaks and Redpols at the feeder, our local ermine shows up occasionally to check out the voles under the bird feeder (a handsome little weasel!). With the minimal snow this year, the deer are looking in good shape; they also take advantage of the limbs I'm cutting down and leaving a little fertilizer for the field to come. Still snow on the ground; not enough of it I'm afraid. Fingers crossed that we'll have rain come April and May or we could be in fire danger.

The daily fires in the mansonry heater are a lynch pin of my days now. Better than TV and a nice slow oven during the day to thaw, warm, or cook things. Choosing wood for the evening and hauling more in every few days. Harvesting a few trees for later on. We have enough wood for the Winter. Plans for more Winters and Springs.


13 Feb 2021
We're entering our second week of below zero weather here. -37 F this morning. Second fire time; we normally have one in the evening in the masonry heater that has a window (better than TV) and bakeoven. Nice.

Winter session at UMD for Seniors is almost over. We have good classes: Tai Chi, an indian studies class, and Caring for Your Aging Brain. Uses up our data quota however to say nothing of mushroom club meetings, soils talks, ....

I have over half the field expansion cleared, seeds and trees arrived or ordered, and a two-wheeled tractor on the way. The forest farm is an investment. I'm enjoying planning it immensely! The work starts in May.

Karen does the classes and church meetings. We walk the dog when it's reasonable out. Tough life ;)


13 Dec 2020
Trying to keep this updated.... This has been a challenging year for all of us. My vision of our land has changed significantly, also. More than a retirement home, more tha a northern MN retreat,...I'm creating a 'forest farm' and having some success! What started as a hazelnut trial orchard is now an expanding source of sustenance and carbon sequestration. I'm expanding the 'field' that was created for hazelnuts to include apples, oaks, Korean pines, plums, currants, ..... Still not to the end of this by a long stretch. My hope is that one of my grandchildren have some interest in living here and perpetuating this plan. Failing that, it should go into an agrarian commons to continue the effort. It should not be a summer home for some capitalist second or third home. As if. I'

OK enough of that. I'm busy this winter with clearing an acre of dying balsam (that is waiting for a fire) to do a demonstration plot that could be propogated. Many trees and shrubs ordered to plant this spring.

This gives me hope!


30 March 2020
It's been a looong time since I updated this misal. Can I say I've been busy? Preoccupied with covid-19? Angsting about Trump? Well, yes all those. And more that are occupying my time but much more satisfying than irritating...at times.

The hazelnut field has morphed into the idea of a forest farm


30 March 2020
Cass and I discovered (again) the subtle art of crust walking. The Anishanabe called March the moon of crusty snow (or close) due to the overwintering snow melting and refreezing on top. In the morning, it's hard enough to support us, especially on my snowshoeing routes where it's packed down. Later in the day, it's postholing and not as much fun. With no leaves and many shrubs weighed down and buried, it's a great time to see through the woods. Fun! But with the warmer spells, that's about at an end, so we'll have to be content with roadwalking for a week or two. Karen, I, and Cass went up to the mailbox and walked on the asphalt road aways where it's easy. Lot's of folks doing that.

Sets are started mostly waiting for warmer ground. The broccoli raab is still prolific and finding many recipes for them besides the usual garlic and olive oil on pasta. Pizza works as does mixing raab with cooked quinoa in ramekins and topping it with a duck egg and baking; was extra good with the frozen blewits. Our egg source is a small indie farm near here who delivers eggs to our door! Sadly taking a break with the cv-19, but more later. Baby green in the greenhouse are keeping us in salads, and now using up our last saved red cabbage. Got the half dozen shiitakes for a couple meals as well as the last of the blue oysters on their third flush.


16 March 2020
So we've secluded ourselves to our home in the woods for now. Still no confirmed covid-19 in Duluth yet, but we've been limiting our contacts: church is off, ditto choir practice, no appointments scheduled, and deferred Cass' training.

Yes! Cass, a 65 lb. 3 y.o. Pyrenees/Aussie cross has joined our house. She's a Star lookalike but much more Aussie in temperament. She's our exercise machine! Several walks per day and training as well as much time in the fenced yard. She's another rescue adoption from North Star Great Pyrenees. We started obedience re-training but that's on hold. A great addition to the household!

Mushrooms and Mushrooming (Gene): We grew blue oyster mushrooms in the back of our shower space this winter. Worked fairly well. Nice to have fresh although our frozen and dried are holding out pretty well. Winecaps in their bed in the hazelnut field last Fall should be bearing this summer. Just forced a few shiitake logs and have some buds growing in the greenhouse. I've been active recently doing my Presidently duties for Paul Bunyan Mushroom Club and helped a promotional meeting for LSMS to happen with Alen Bergo, the Forager Chef as presenter in January. Lake Superior Mycological Society is new and doing well in Duluth. Gene also started helping out the North American Mycoflora Project. Been part of the Minnesota Funga project for a couple years, but hard to get to the cities for meetings.

Karen: Well, we are coping at home with COVID-19, the novel Coronovirus, for the foreseeable future. Gene has to go in to his dental appointment tomorrow and stop at the library for me, and then we will probably not be out again until next Sunday, if then. If the groceries and markets are not closed by then, I imagine.

Tom Hamilton gave the choir and clergy his notice at the end of February. He will be starting at Grace Lutheran Church in LaGrange, IL sometime after April 26th, his last day at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. I and probably everyone else in choir will miss him very much. I thought it was likely when the first recommendation of the Vestry was to cut his hours back by 5% or 10% to less than 30, which according to some would have made him ineligible for paid sick leave. I think he was just very stunned with the timing; shortly before Christmas and a few days before 9 Lessons and Carols, and just began to look elsewhere.

Christmas was wonderful but I was unable to make it for the Sunday service. I did make it for Christmas Evening, which was great! Hopefully next year it may be easier. I was somewhat depressed this winter and began taking Welbutrin, an anti-depressant, in early September. I began having seizures not too long after that, although they were very brief, less than half a minute, and always in the house and when I was sitting. On the advice of my oncologist, I went to see the neurologist on December 13th and he immediately diagnosed the Welbutrin as lowering my threshold for seizures. I was just able to recently resume driving and yesterday drove up to Kwik Trip for a paper and then home the long way. It will be awhile before I'm comfortable driving on my own again!

We have enjoyed T'ai Chi Tuesdays and Thursdays at U for Seniors. Classes are now canceled until at least April 30, I believe. It will be good to get back into the routine of practicing T'ai Chi Tuesdays and Thursdays.


17 November 2019
Time on my hands while the bacon is smoking. I use the weber kettle indirect method, so it needs tending every 15-20 minutes; a nice task, but I have time to think. We got our meat from the farmer and the freezers are full with that and the summer's vegetables. More dried or canned things around. The winters wood has been in the shed for a couple months and should get us through.

Karen remains in remission and is driving on her own again, at least to Duluth. She is being good about exercises, walks, and taking care of herself. I'll invite her to add to this.

We just finished Fall quarter University for Seniors. I taught a four week mushroom class that went very well; enough interest so they asked me to repeat this winter. Tai Chi is going very much better for me...third try to learn the many moves of this version. Feels good and keeps the body in shape. The trips into town are a bother, but now that we have the EV and solar collector I can rationalize them better.

Mushrooming has been very good this year, perhaps with all the rain. Lots dried or frozen. The Nameko finally came through and is very good, but indeed 'slimey mushroom' good in soups, pizza, and stir fries. Also celebrating a new group in Duluth, the Lake Superior Mycological Society loosely connected with Lake Superior College. Planning a joint meeting in January with a great presentation by the Forager Chef, Alan Bergo. The year went well as President of the Paul Bunyan Mushroom Club with adequate coaching from Michael. We have most of next years activities planned!

Time to check the bacon and to do other tasks.....


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