Aug 242014
 

I guess you could say that I’ve took the summer off from blogging since I haven’t written a post since Mother’s Day.

Wish I could have given ya’ll some notice, but I didn’t realize that I was going to do it!

I’ve thought many times over the last 3 months to sit down at the computer and do some writing, but then this, that and the other thing got in the way and well, I’m sure your Summer wasn’t much different.

Minus the blogging.  Or not.

So what’s kept me so busy?  Lots of little things like gardening, loafing off, reading and lots of running around filled up a lot of the time.  Spending weekends canning, doing housework, spending time with family and friends took up most of the rest.

Another that keeps me running around is helping my former boss (and good friend) out with his campaign for State Senate.

When I first moved up here in 2001, I worked for a local Native newspaper as their accountant.  Back in May my former boss from that job, Paul DeMain, stopped by the homestead to let me know of his political aspirations and if I would be his Treasurer and Accountant for his bid for state office.

My life has been non-stop since that day.

And if that wasn’t enough to fill up my world, Rick & I decided that life needed to be a tad more busy so we bought ourselves a little project.

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This building is about two blocks from our house, and was, up until a couple years ago, a bar.  And before that it was a bar.  And other times of its life it was a brothel, a bakery, and… a bar.  So I’m told.

This will consume the majority of our time for the next 9 months as we repair the roof (Rick’s current project), remodel the upstairs apartment to get it rented out (my current project), and then tackle 1,952 other things that need to be fixed on the main floor before we can relocate Rick’s business and I can open up my coffee shop again.

Oh, and still get Paul elected to State Senate, and still work my current job, and keep up with the chores on the homestead, and, and, and….

But if that wasn’t enough, we also have an addition to the family:

Meet Perry.

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If he’d stop moving you would be able to see that he is a Siamese kitten that formerly resided at Nichole’s home, but graciously relocated to the Northwoods when Rick decided that we needed another furball.  Rick obviously forgot the high maintenance that a kitten comes with, but luckily for him Thor welcomed him into the home and has been taking him under his wing.

There are not many things in life that shock me, but that right there threw me for a loop!

So I may have taken Summer off from blogging, but I haven’t really had a vacation per se.  Yes, there have been some relaxing moments here and there, as well as over-nights here and there;  personal time with a book on the deck;  relaxing time in the studio creating new items;  snuggle time with Thor while Perry plays with his tail;  precious moments with the grandkids creating memories that I hope they will reflect on when they are older.

Yeah, it’s been a good summer, and the future looks like it’s going to be pretty great too.

Hope you’ll join us for the ride.

May 122014
 

Mother’s Day has come and gone, and for the third year I met up with Nichole and her munchkins in Eau Claire for a mini-day of lunch and shopping.

It’s fun to see the changes in the grandkids each year.  They age just a little bit and their temperament for being with us older folk while we chat over lunch and browse the stores gets better.

A couple things, however, I am sure will never change.  One of which is Nichole and I finding goofy stuff that make us crack up like teenagers.

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The piece de resistance this year goes to the Dammit Doll.  This masterpiece was found on display in a Hallmark store with a picture of Betty White clutching one to her chest.

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Had. To. Have. It.

And you can bet it will get plenty of use when I take it to work.

The second thing that the girls look forward to is the picture taking session.  We actually have two of them, the first taking place in the mall photo booth with us making all sorts of silly faces.  The second shoot comes as we exit the mall and find our designated locations for the outside shots.

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Here is where I really get to capture some memories.

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And those girls sure do love their Momma!

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And they like to do some serious model posing.

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Being goofy is fun too.

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Then we let the kids have our cameras and get a Mother-Daughter shot for posterity.

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Apparently one of the dolls didn’t care too much for the moment.

I don’t think that one is invited next year.

May 082014
 

My life is made up of routine.  When you have a good routine, you hardly ever have to think about what you are doing because it just happens because of repetition.  It is like the air that I breath.

But when that routine is interrupted, I’m like a guppy out of water.  Spring causes me a lot of stress because it has so many instances where it snaps that routine in two, forcing me to actually think about what I am doing.

Case in point:  Daylight Savings Time.  Twice a year I have to adjust to either an extra hour in a day or one hour less.  Do you know how much that screws up my system?  It’s like having jet lag without having to get on a plane.  It takes me a good week to feel like I don’t have vertigo anymore.

Spring is also the time when I break a seven month relationship with the woodburner.  I no longer have to haul in wood and feed the hungry belly of our main source of heat in the cooler/colder/frigid months of the year.  It’s like a double whammy of Daylight Savings Time because I now have an extra hour in the day that I don’t know what to do with.  By the time I’ve figured out how to use that time and get into a decent routine, it’s Fall again and the cycle starts all over.

The latest tail spin to my life is the bathroom remodel.  To save major bucks, we (as in Rick) are doing all the work ourselves, starting with building the vanity.

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People, this thing is a piece of work.  Rick’s talent with building things is beyond words.

However, there are a few bugs that we are working out… slowly.  First off, the drain in the sink isn’t exactly right.  When he designed this masterpiece he wanted it to be unique (like everything else in our life) and have one of those above counter basins.  None that we looked at tripped our trigger so the only option was to find a bowl that could be turned into a sink.  Simple enough.  Just seal the crap out of it and you’re done.

The only difference between these types of sinks and the “drop-in” ones is that there is no overflow safety, which means you have to get a drain to match.  Follow where I’m going here?  Yep, the drain mechanism we got had two huge holes on the sides for overflow.  So in order to actually use the sink until the new drain came in (one minus holes) was to wrap a bunch of tape around the holes and pray to the sink gods that it wouldn’t leak.  Well, that sorta kinda worked for 6.2398 seconds.  But that’s what empty ice cream pails are for, right?

Where the routine part of this little story comes in is that the design of this piece is so far out of normal that I can’t seem to get my barrings around it.  I stand in front of the thing and have a huge counter where a sink should be.  I get up in the middle of the night and blindly reach for the glass to get some water and grab my deodorant, because that is where a glass has been for 13 years.  It takes me twice as long to brush my teeth because I have to remember that the sink is on the right and grabbing things are not the same distance away anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the new vanity, it’s just going to take a while to get used to it.  I’ll eventually remember where my water glass is and learn how to control the water in the new faucet.  It will become second nature to brush my teeth again and get used to the new arrangement under the sink.  Life will get back to a blissful routine.

Now, if we ever move the toilet there could be a real problem.

Apr 262014
 

Sugarbush 2014 is finally over, and I have to say it was very exhausting.

While we only boiled two times, the second batch was a doozy!  We pulled an all-nighter last Sunday boiling 93 gallons in 25 hours straight.  It has taken 6 days for my body to recover from that, and I’m still not back to normal yet.

Whatever normal is.

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That second boil yielded  just under four gallons of syrup, bringing our cache for the season to five gallons.  We broke our previous record of sap collected to 133 gallons.  My arms still have phantom aches from carrying those buckets.

But it’s over and done now, so we can start working on other things around the homestead, such as cleaning up the debris in the yard caused by the Winter storms.

And also getting rid of some troublesome trees on the property.

We had six that had to come down – pines and oaks – that were dying either due to age or critter damage.  One tree in particular was leaning against a power line that was coming into the house.  Every time we had a storm or strong winds, that thing would swing and sway, causing my anxiety level to skyrocket, hoping it wouldn’t take the line down.

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Now I can rest easy because that troublemaker is going to be chopped up for heat for the house.

Apr 202014
 

Sugarbush 2014 started out pretty slow, but finally the Maple trees are letting their precious liquid flow.

Last weekend was our first boil of the season.  It was a cold, rainy, blustery day so Rick put together a canopy of sorts to keep any unwanted drops of moisture our of the boiling pans.

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It wasn’t the most attractive contraption, but we use what we got and as long as it does the job, that’s all right in our book.

I think this year marks the earliest that we’ve gotten the fire going .  By 8:30 am we had a roaring fire and both pans in position and filled with sap.

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Before the clock could strike 10:00, that sap was boiling and we were in business.

We processed 40 gallons of sap that day which got us 1 gallon, 2 pints, and one 1/2 pint of sweet, sticky syrup.  Nummmmmmm.

Unbeknownst to us, our sugarbush was not over yet.  This last week was pretty chilly and we didn’t pay much attention to the taps and buckets.  When Rick went to check them on Thursday after the snowstorm, he was surprised to find that the trees were still running and collected 16 gallons of sap!

I checked the trees Friday afternoon and hauled in another 16 gallons.  3 hours later Rick made the rounds when he got home from work and brought in another 13 gallons!!  Wow.

Saturday’s yield was 23 gallons bringing our 3 day total to 68 gallons.  Holy crap!!!

Our Easter Sunday will not be spent eating ham and gorging on chocolate, instead we will be keeping a roaring fire going and boiling sap well into the night.

I much prefer tasting hot maple syrup from the fire than processed chocolate any day.