Friday, December 25, 2020

I Can Not Lie

I chopped the cherry tree down.

In fact, I cut them both down.

Not sure what old George did with his cuttings but I had a plan for what I'd be doing with mine.  These remains were not the only thing I was left with.

There was a sort of plan, a hoped for result and it was to be something that I would take along on my cooking/camping projects, something I'd been thinking about for some time.  

You are not to be faulted...I wasn't sure what to call it either.  I've given it the moniker of Spatulacallit.

It needs to be strongly stated here that this and what follows was not 'design'.  That's my day job, my vocation and it is filled with Rules, datums, sizes and tolerances....there will be precious little of that here.  This is about wood, an avocation, so the term 'design' shall not be mentioned or enter into it in the least though there was an allowance in a few cases for those of us with the left-hand persuasion.  I pick up a very rough piece, the grain begins to speak.  I simply listen and then follow instructions, the pleasure of watching and assisting the transition a true delight.... I'd start and couldn't stop until it was as good as done.

My Spatulacallit was so much fun, so enjoyable that I continued on.....

As you can see, some of these kitchen utensils are for food that has yet to be invented.  I can't tell you how rewarding it was making these pieces and done from only a few of the many slabs that I split out with an axe.  I'm hoping that there will be more later this winter after I get the current batch of dust all dealt with.  Very little was wasted (bloody obvious right?) and I found little need for using only chunks that were straight and true.  Yes, there is a tooling mark here or there, perfection is what you'll see on the shelves at the 'Mart. 

Already there's concern about locating other, additional truth telling individuals in order to keep a supply of fresh grain drying on the shelf so if you know of anyone meeting this demanding criteria....

In my time I've made a lot, a truly real lot of parts out of metal (vocationally) and when left on a workbench, the desire to pick them up and fondle is apparently a human trait because I've watched it happen over and over again.  Hopefully the recipients of these gifts will feel the same way.  An absolute unequivocal splinters shall occur!  The connection with these cherry surfaces certainly brought me pleasure.

It was a very low impact gift giving Christmas around here.  Peg's been knitting since July 4th might have even been June 4th.  There were sweaters for our dear daughters, beautiful and much Too Fine for me to wear.  I gave family members utensils and a few of my watercolor paintings, the food shelf a few bags, our Johnny On The Spot car care guys some yummies and for any and everyone else close, hopefully a modicum of Holiday Cheer.  

I honestly wish that for all of you as well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

A Good Bit Of Holiday Cheer

 The Mileage Pie is now sweeter!

23 miles sweeter to be precise and this was the early morning reason!

It was colder in my heated shop than it was outdoors...

A contributing factor to this morning's ride...note the Red indicators....heat is on High.

A fine morning for a toodle....

On the local pond there's ice and the fisher folks have been making holes to find the fishes.  No permanent houses yet....but that will come.  Lake Pepin isn't ready for ice quite yet.

I rode up into the State Park and found it very quiet.

The parking lot hasn't been this empty since pre-COVID.

Raining across the river in Wisconsin and soon to be raining in Minnesota.

This is the reason that it was so nice this morning....because it's going to be so bad tonight.

Raindrops barely perceptible on my black Darien Light jacket.

Once back at home, I was out in the shop to finally get the Helix put back together.  We should be ready for many more trouble-free miles.


And so on...:)

Making a cold winter day just that much more special....

Merry Christmas to all with hopes and prayers for a peaceful, healthy and happy end of 2020.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

House -> Home

Some background.

We live on mom's side of the family's Century Farm, great grandfather Charles bought the property in 1884 after coming over from the Black Forest area of Germany, later my grandmother inherited the 162 oddly shaped acres, never actually having lived here herself.  Her sons did however, beginning their farming careers here, various cousins as well as other more distant relatives have over time been here also.  Mom and her siblings inherited the farm and in 1989 decided to put it up for sale.  Peg and I at that time were in our first house in St. Paul and for many reasons, decided to purchase the farm.  Cousins were living here at the time, farming full time with supplemental employment off the farm.  For a number of months, we were landlords.  Mother's Day 1990 the auction took place, our renters moved out and that summer the weeds grew thick and tall.

In 1984 while the extended family celebrated the 100 years of ownership, Peg and I were living in Orange County, California so we missed the celebration.  Only a few short years later, the original farm  house caught on fire and essentially burned to the ground.  Our young cousins moved a mobile home in over the top of the old cellar and that was their home when we purchased the property.  After the auction, the cellar was here, their old mobile home was gone, the barn and other out buildings all empty.  That summer we setup a small tent trailer and used it on weekends as we became familiar with what was here, beginning our plans to build a home and move.  Not able or ready to build a home but very anxious to leave St. Paul, we purchased a used mobile home in Plum City and had it moved onto the property.  Before our St. Paul house was even sold, we moved to 'the farm'.

I commuted to the Twin Cities at first, then found a job in nearby Red Wing and only a year or so later, left local employment returning to my commuting task, something I've continued with to this day.  Everything about our new home and life was adventure, 4 small kiddos in the mobile home, lambs, rabbits, goats, horses in the barn, gardens, weeds, fences to build, fences to tear down, old buildings to remove, one of them only slid to a new location.  Every single memory of those days good, even my climbing under the mobile home to thaw out frozen pipes.  Baby lambs being born only in the worst weather, every once in awhile spending time in the kitchen to thaw out and return to life.  

As I said, adventure.

In the spring of 1994, the basement was dug.  During the day, I was working in one or more of the the Twin City suburbs, Peg was homeschooling the kids.  Evenings and weekends we were builders, Peg the Brains and Brawn, I filled in with the remaining Brawn.

3 of the big kids, Hanna not yet big.

 Walls were poured....

 Ben exploring the peaks...

 Lots has changed since this photo was taken.  That which we've come to call the Tree Field was an acre of cropland when we arrived, now huge soft maples canopy that section of the 1000' driveway.  The driveway was moved so that we could put the garage in its place.  The building barely visible on left in this photo is the old Summer Kitchen, the cook space when summers were hot.  It originally sat about 100' to the north.  The house foundation is where the old corn crib sat, just one of many buildings no longer present.

Ah the memories of summer flooding....


  Foundation in, Phase 1 lumber delivered, lots of materials were staged in the barn and milkhouse.


Sometimes the lambs pitched in...

When the fun work started....

First a garage in St.Paul, a garage on the farm and then the house.  I've totally used up my desire and ability to build.  That is more building for me!

But if you've a little first level framing you'd appreciate some help with, I'd take the call.

More segments to follow in this home-building series.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Early December - 2020

 They talk about a walk in the park....I actually did one (last) Saturday morning.


It was time for brunch, I was prepared.

Sunday morning I went back again, no sun or cooking this time, just some water and my cameras.

If it were summer, we'd be complaining about a drought.... brown and dry.  Instead, it's almost winter and brown and dry.

More takeout, this time pizza in Red Wing.

A package arrived the other day and in a hurry, I only quickly caught where it was from but quite sure there was mention of NORTH POLE on the label.  The big guy, apparently a biker in his off season enjoys a cone.  I have to guess the banner is just a reminder for me to not get too uppity about my camping gear and to maintain some perspective.

Finally the new bearing arrived and finally finally I managed to get the old one out.  Now to get it back together once more, hopefully it will feel AND sound right.

Another hike, this one today, December 12.

Finally, two birthdays this past week.  The big girl, 35, the little boy, 31.  I'm not a Grandpa nor do I feel like a Grandpa.

Coming up, another week on the road for work, a good thing I have all of my Christmas shopping done.