Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kitchen rough-in

Travis will be here tomorrow, so the rush was on to get the counter-tops in place, along with the 20 amp circuits, hot and cold, and drain. Travis will make the actual connections, assuring a professional finish to the amateurs lash up.
Above is the pony wall with the upper mini-counter in place, and two outlets. Below, the purple, mold resistant wallboard will be covered with a tile backsplash when the sink and the countertop are in place.
Tomorrow: The Kitchen Sink.

Trellis hiatus

This is as far as we got on the trellis yesterday when the plumber showed up and said he'd be back on Wednesday to hook up the sink. Since we don't have the sink or the base cabinets set yet, we put our redwood tools away and moved indoors.
Which is fine, it's been a bit warm for working outdoors during the middays. It's cool inside.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pedestals complete, now the lattice

Structure is eight and half feet tall. Posts are 5.5 inches square. The first trial unpainted
trellis rail is visible projecting 48 inches horizontally from the spine. Its length is dictated by the

height of the spine at its juncture with the rail. This will create an interesting horizontal parabola. You'll see.
Beautiful day gave us a chance to finish off the base of the unit and get it primed. Once the detail is added, painting will be greatly complicated. This morning we installed the LED lights under the porch roof, so now we can work all day and all night. :)
This morning we picked out some nice under cabinet LED lighting, subway tile and a shade for the kitchenette.
Tomorrow we focus on getting the lattice added to the spine and turning the corner on the fencing.

Andrew's sweetie

Here's the card Andy Dang created for his girlfriend, announcing her upcoming graduation from the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences.
Congratulations to Laura -- and Andy. Andy attends the same college and will graduate along with her this spring. Their futures look bright, so many plans and decisions and dreams ahead. So much accomplished so far in their young lives.
We have known Andy since infancy, when his father came to work at the newspaper office as a computer tech and software engineer. It has been a pleasure to watch Andy grow into adulthood, a credit to himself and his family.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Too hot

Six foot wide wall accommodates microwave, dish cabinet, window.
The sink will be in front of the window, next to the dishwasher. Drawer unit on far left.
The cabinet on the left is bumped out to accommodate the microwave and still make the cabinet
accessible. Fridge and pantry are on opposite wall.
It was definitely too hot to work on the trellis project today. We finished the pedestals and started work on the fence.
It was in the 90s and there were two outdoor parties in the neighborhood: a shower under a tent and a birthday party. (But it's a dry heat.) This evening it will cool off and we'll paint the spine of the trellis. It will be easier to do it now, before the lattice is applied.
Meanwhile, Stan spent the day indoors in the air conditioning. He trimmed out a door and a window and hung a couple of kitchen cabinets. Seems like most of the time was spent trying to figure out how to "snap" the soft closing hardware onto the hinge assembly. Finally found a YouTube video to help.
The assembled cabinets had been serving temporarily as his bedside table to keep his stuff off the floor. Now what.
Below, Severin (that's a real name) and his partner snapped some chalk lines for crown moulding in the dining and office.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Day Two

Sealing the spine today, sand and paint tomorrow.
Lots of miscellaneous details to look into today. Shopped for materials, loaded the SUV roof rack with 12 foot redwood 2x6s. Took it easy driving home from Lowe's, strapped together like the Beverly Hillbillies.
We're building the pedestals for the trellis project (above) out of 6 by 6 material, which is a challenge of course when your saw cuts only 3 inches deep. We ripped a half dozen redwood 6 inch boards into 3 inchers. Should make good headway tomorrow. If it gets too hot again, we'll case the new window in the kitchenette and enjoy the air conditioning.
It cools off in the evenings and the mornings are choice, but midday can be brutal in the direct sun, so we find a shady project.

Northwoods report

Wayne writes from International Falls:

After reading that it's too hot in the sun where you are I thought I would show you what we found Thursday morning. We went down to light the furnace and deliver some supplies for a spring outing to the shack. The north side of the shack happens to be the front thus an ice chisel and metal shovel were needed to chop thru this snow which slid off the metal roof.
Greetings to Hai.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Trellis, continued

We used temporary braces to tack up the redwood spine supporting the trellis at the California project house today. Went pretty well. The kitchenette window was slipped in yesterday, (at right) so we can continue finishing off that space as well. It's a little custom window that was rejected four times before Lowe's finally got it right.
Meanwhile, the gardener has been hard at it in the front, producing this curvaceous creation, reminiscent of the river rock treatment so common to Minnesota landscapers.
Work will continue on the bougainvillea trellis out back later this afternoon. After considerable tweaking, we think we've got the correct relationship with the shed roof… not too close, not too distant. We'll get a better idea when we fill in the legs and the wooden fence.
It's hot in the direct sun right now, we'll wait for it to cool off a bit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Eight is not enough? Two more inches on the way!

Accuweather map
Winter has returned to the tundra, it seems. Tonight's forecast calls for two more inches on top of the eight received (and partially melted) in Shakopee. Optimists say they'll be back on the golf course within the week.
Others are not so sure -- and are making plans elsewhere.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

It's a party, it's our Spring Snow Storm

If you were ever going to give a snowstorm party, this one would be it. Wait until a Sunday evening when everyone is safe at home watching basketball or something. Tease it all day with dribs and drabs and then go All In and bring it on in big generous soft flakes as fast as you can, no wind, a warmish 30 degrees, with just enough dusk to illuminate the scene. Paint the roofs and the streets and the trees and leave six or more fluffy inches by 8 p.m.
That will give the overnight crews a nice head start cleaning up after the party in time for the Monday rush.
Snow Butt
It looked so inviting we just had to go out. We pulled on our boots and coats and mittens. It was magical. Quiet. Pristine. We looked at all the familiar places with fresh eyes, watched the woods fill up, admired the cascades under the streetlight. We let it snow, let it snow as we left tracks in the virgin fluff all the way to Langston Court, then back. The acoustics made it possible to hear excited children shouting a mile away, their dog barking with them. By the time we got home we felt refreshed and glad to be alive in this fleeting winter storm.
Now it was Birdie's turn. We released the hound and her joy was immediate, dashing through the snow, delighted to be invited to the party at last, covering herself in the snow and loving it.
It's a springtime celebration in Minnesota. What's next?

Awaiting the blizzard

Depending on whom you ask, what time it is, or what channel you're watching, we're in for one to 6 inches of snow in the next 24 hours. Should be interesting.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Confidence builders

Grandpa with his "G" logo; Emily with hers, and the leggy GM. (General Manager?)
There's lots to analyze here, but we're late for Kung Fun.
Emily may need a stool to be as tall as Grandpa, but Grandma doesn't need one. Just look at Emily's drawing of Grandma, above. Perception and belief are the things that really count in our lives.

Waffles AND a Smoothie
Powering up for today's test.
That's why Emily's Mom enrolled her in Kung Fu.

Any disinterested observer could easily see that Emily probably could  never hurt anyone (except possibly herself) with Kung Fu. But that's not the point. It's a confidence builder that's so important to a growing girl (an inch and a half since May).
Today Emily earned her Green Belt, which is a step up from the Orange one she wore into the test. We drove Emily to her Green Belt test today and were treated to an impressive naming of all the Books of the Bible (including Habakuk, remember him?), both the new and the old, in order. Good job.
Pretty soon she won't need a stool for anything.

Emily's Fan Club; Grandma, Melissa, Diane

Friday, March 20, 2015

School's out! Goldfish survive winter freeze, make unexpected Spring break!

The inversion process brought the warmer, oxygenated water to the top, along with its denizens.

It was truly a dramatic entrance.
They hadn't been seen for five months and no one knew if they could possibly survive a brutal Minnesota winter in the little pond they had been dumped into last July.
But on the first day of Spring, just as Emily arrived for an overnight with Grandma and Grandpa, the big school of goldfish made its first appearance. Totally unexpected. They looked just a tad bit sluggish, as if they were waking from a long winter's nap, but the clear, newly-melted water made it impossible for them to hide their brilliant orange and red hues.
They're big, they're beautiful and they are survivors. We've counted 23 in the class of sophomores so far.
Gary the Green Heron can't be too far away.
Reflections of dead grass and evergreens on the still water surface can't hide the brilliant hues beneath them.

Equinox - When the Night Equals the Day

Photo by Rebecca Jerdee
Like a modern-day Stonehenge, the columns supporting the pier at Sharkey's in Venice, Florida, faithfully measure the sun's northward progress, and have announced the end of winter. Stan's sister, Becky, sent this striking image taken with her new iPhone near their winter home.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Fresh pickins

Tree and Cone Expert Matt Drees

A white pine doesn't have much appeal as a Christmas tree, says Drees Trees impresario Matt Drees, because the branches tend to droop under a load of ornaments. Not so the sturdy spruces. But the white pine does yield a nice Christmasy cone, favored by crafties for their seasonal projects. So Matt likes to keep a supply on hand to upsell Christmas customers. When he saw the litter of cones revealed by the early melt in our backyard, he was naturally drawn to them.
Here's the first trunk full, there are many more out there. Come and get 'em -- before the lawnmower does.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

After 60 years, paths cross again

Over sixty years ago Stan and next door neighbor Larry Olson walked a mile and a half together every day to a one-room country school where both attended First Grade with four others. Once they walked to school after a huge snowstorm blocked the roads, just to learn that school had been closed and they would need to return home. By Second Grade, the Olsons must have had enough and moved to town.
Stan pretty much lost touch with Larry until today, when this auto-forwarded photograph and a note appeared, inquiring about the possibility of a 50th reunion of the Alexandria Class of 1965. He had found an old class of '65 email address activated for a previous reunion.
Larry's brief note offered few details, other than that he did get a haircut after the rally in Sturgis last year.
It will be great to see him again. It's been a long road since the last time we played together.
(Work started on the Crazy Horse Monument the year after Larry was born.)

My Mom said to wear these today . . .

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2015

No Good Brother-in-law finally comes through for Wayne

This note today from the Far North, where the ice is thick and the air is warm.

Wayne writes:
While my big city friends golfed this weekend, my redneck friends and I drove to Nester Falls and caught some crappies. On Sunday my no good brother-in-law Woody (FairlyReliable.com) finally showed me one of his secret spots about 2 1/2 miles from my dock [on Rainy Lake] and I caught a limit of 1 3/4 lb crappies, which is 10 in Canada.

Photo at left. Woody, a fairly reliable professional fishing guide out of Rainier, Minnesota, with fish. Wayne married his very reliable sister.

A man astride his bucket: Besides the monster crappies, note the blue high-tech fish finder,
intended to advantage the fisherman.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Saturday, March 14, 2015

From Mom's Orange Tree

We had smoothies this morning using this fresh orange, which was imported in a suitcase from Mom's orange tree in California, and ripened in the Minnesota sun. It was a delicious addition to today's concoction. We hope to enjoy many more of these Washington navel oranges.
Here's some history from the Citrus Website:

Parentage/origins: Washington navel orange is also known as the Bahia for the Brazilian city from which it was imported into the United States in 1870. Although its origins are uncertain, it is believed to come from a bud sport found in a Selecta orange tree in the early 1800s. Upon its arrival at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. it was propagated and trees were sent to California and Florida. Although the Florida trees did not flourish, those sent to Eliza Tibbets in Riverside, California found an ideal climate for their culture. These exceptionally delicious, seedless, easy-peeling fruits quickly attracted the attention of citrus growers, and within a decade the "Washington" navel orange, as it came to be known, was the most widely planted variety in the area.

Season of ripeness at Riverside: November to January

Notes and observations:
EMN, 1985: Buds taken from Parent Washington navel tree growing in plot on Magnolia Avenue, Riverside, Calif. This accession had mild exocortis, removed by shoot tip grafting. 
Navel orange trees, in general, and Washington navel orange trees in particular, are not very vigorous trees. They have a round, somewhat drooping canopy and grow to a moderate size at maturity. The flowers lack viable pollen so the Washington navel orange will not pollinate other citrus trees. Because of the lack of functional pollen and viable ovules, the Washington navel orange produces seedless fruits. These large round fruits have a slightly pebbled orange rind that is easily peeled, and the navel, really a small secondary fruit, sometimes protrudes from the apex of the fruit. The Washington navel orange is at its best in the late fall to winter months, but will hold on the tree for several months beyond maturity and stores well. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Warm day on ice

Just a block away, eager golfers are flooding the fairways as temperatures flirt with 70 degrees today. Persistence and patience are the twin virtues of a good fisherman. This angler parked his car at the public access and carried his chair, rod and bucket onto the rotting ice of Lake O'Dowd.
He's got the place all to himself.
Fish in peace, solitary man.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Oh No! Rusty golfers are hazard to parked cars

Not even close to the target. Dick parked this car about half a block away from the fairway.
Our guest enjoyed a round of golf with Stan today, leaving his car parked in what he thought was a safe zone of the cul de sac. Wrong. This time of the year, golfers' calibration leaves much to be desired, and may be unbelievably inaccurate, as in this case. When Dick returned from today's round he discovered this bruise. . . but no note taking responsibility.
Not surprising, of course. But it has happened. A note, that is.
We hold the Golf Professional at Stonebrooke responsible for damages resulting from poor quality of play. After all, he's the one taking money for lessons. :)

First Golfers of 2015

Leading the Parade.
Denny, Dick and Jean got the first tee times today and wasted no time, pausing briefly here on the 14th to be recognized as the very first in the history of Stonebrooke to golf on March 11. Moments before their arrival, a pine marten scampered across the ice in the background, retreating from what has been a peaceful, undisturbed domain. The interruption will no doubt be temporary, April has yet to arrive with its basket of surprises.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Grand Evening in Florida!

Kim writes tonight from poolside at Virg's place in Ft. Meyers:

A beautiful evening on the lanai with my guy. If only I knew how to write a haiku, I would send it to you. Cheers! 

A Grand Day

Sunny skies and 66 degrees brought Stan's pal Bob over to the house for a cold one to celebrate an unusual March day. The golf course will open tomorrow, its earliest opening ever in the history of the world, according to the boss. The warm weather will last at least a week, it is said. Bob, who raises fish and maintains a summer pond, told Stan there is no chance any of Stan's goldfish will survive in his pond. We shall see.
Stan emailed his golf partner to see about a game tomorrow. Got this response:

I'm in India - will visit the Taj Mahal today.  Talk to you when I get back.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Early T time

Oblivious to posters warning interlopers away, this foursome strolled casually down the cart path to the 17th tee this morning.
The snow is fast clearing the area, we look forward to a brief warming spell. . . then the annual State Tournament blizzard, of course.
The wild turkey hunt opens in April. We doubt our foursome is in much danger. . . if it just remembers to stick to its territory in the adjacent game preserve.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Eight goats munching in an Argan tree

We don't know how old these goats are, but they are up in an Argan tree. Oils pounded from its nuts defy age.
Sosie bought several bottles.
Stan's sister Sosie and her husband Bill are in Morocco. Today she sent a picture of some goats up in a tree and an explanation of the Argan nut, something we've somehow never heard of. Here's her note from Africa:

"Our first close look at an Argan tree came with goats. Goats love argan leaves and nuts, which are the basis for the age-defying argan oil. This is an 'only in Morocco' product and a women's co-op is the current award-winning best producer. The nut is small and women pound the outer shell to release the kernel and then squeeze out the oil. We bought bottles of the stuff, all the better for maintaining the youth and vigor of friends and loved ones."

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Just how cold is it at the well head?

It was 4 below zero and steam was rising from the exposed warm earth this morning as workers dug up the pipe leading into the Community Well on Fairhaven Drive. The plan is to have it opened and repaired by 4 p.m. today. Residents are being asked to use water on an emergency basis, giving rise to discussions about just what constitutes an emergency. Do you flush? Did you pre-fill the tub? Are you showering together?
There's a reserve tank of pressurized water at the well-head for neighbors to share, managers say, and when that's been used up, that's it.
A workman was bent over the hole around noon today when the driver cruised by, getting a photo of the worker's backside and making the driver wonder on the origin of the age-old expression, "Colder than a well-digger's arse."

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Numbers reduced, winter warriors gather nonetheless

Joe, Mina, Mary, John, Katie, Stan
Tommy the Head Bartender took this photo tonight of a brave band of winter warriors who celebrated another evening in Shakopee's winter wonderland at the monthly Abbey Point dinner and conference. The six neighbors present discussed the neighbors who weren't present  . . . mostly they're in Florida, a couple in Arizona. The Gerkens brought a report from Florida where they had been February guests of some of the Abbey Point snowbirds. It was an upbeat fireside evening with temperatures outside going below zero. Although they all have them, aches and pains were not featured on the evening's agenda. Community well water quality was, with Joe Daly volunteering to guarantee the neighborhood's safety by drinking the first glass after current repairs are completed. Mr. Gerken suggests others hold off at least a half hour to see if Mr. Daly starts flopping around.

Tragedy recalls dangers of lake ice

A friend just notified Stan of a tragedy that occurred last night on the lake where Stan grew up near Alexandria. The news story (below) brought back memories of a boyhood experience on the same lake that could have ended similarly.
Stan was about eight years old at the time and out playing with siblings on the frozen lake not too far from their home. Despite warnings from an older sister, curiosity caused him to step on the thin skin that had formed over a recently abandoned ice fishing hole. The rectangular hole was wide enough to easily accommodate dark house spear fishing, so when the ice gave way under the youngster's weight, down he went, plunging into the icy water. Fortunately, his elbows caught on the edge of the hole and his sister quickly put out a hand and helped him scramble out. He dashed a half mile home in frozen clothes. A frozen zipper required his mother to pull his jacket over his head to get it off. His mother was always pretty relaxed about her kids roaming about. Not so much that day.

Our thoughts are with the Alexandria family and their tragic loss.

By Al Edenloff 
Today at 11:56 a.m.

One of the people rescued after falling through the ice of Lake Andrew last night has died, according to family members.

In a statement issued this morning, the family said that James Minnerath, 50, of Alexandria passed away.

Minnerath's 2-year-old grandson, Hayden Minnerath, who was with him at the time of the accident, is receiving care at Children's Hospital and Clinics in the Twin Cities and is listed in critical condition, according to the family. "Our family would like to thank the community for its thoughts and well wishes, and request privacy at this difficult time," the family said in the statement. At about 8:45 p.m. Tuesday night, a resident on the lake, Brad Brejcha, called 911 to report that Minnerath and his grandson had been traveling in a utility task vehicle (UTV) on the lake, located southwest of Alexandria, and were overdue.

Brejcha had went out to look for them and located a large hole in the ice and said that it appeared the UTV had broken through.

The dive team was activated and arrived on scene with Douglas County patrol units.

Dive team members located the two victims submerged in the water and brought them to shore.

The victims were taken by ambulance to the Douglas County Hospital. Hayden was airlifted to Children's Hospital and James was airlifted to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale.

Responding units included the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, the dive team and North Ambulance.

This morning, dive team members and the Bosek Underwater Recovery Services pulled the UTV out of the water.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

No, Dear.

Kathleen saw three deer crossing the meadow and ran to get the camera and fired off a few shots. Here's the best one. If you can't see the deer, don't feel bad. Stan can't see them either. But they were there, honest they were, says Kathleen.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Look Ma! No Misses!

Certified gun safety courses endeavor to teach responsible and safe handling of deadly weapons. They are also a prerequisite for receiving a conceal and carry permit from the county sheriff.
RangeMaster Pete
It was cold out there.

Two recent graduates of a day-long training course in Jordan appeared on our doorstep yesterday with dramatic evidence that they had just completed their study: two posters riddled with gunshots.
This was the first we'd heard of any of this, so needless to say, we were stunned as our daughter and her friend, big grins on their faces, rolled out their posters for our inspection. Based on a quick reading of the results, it appears they're both one-day wonders, both had fired compact patterns into the paper targets. No strays.
They hoped the experience would demystify some of the aspects of gun ownership and use, allowing them to gain a greater understanding of this complex and sometimes emotional topic. We hope so too.
It also qualifies them to apply to their sheriff for a permit to pack heat.
Oh boy.