Saturday, June 27, 2009



We are getting the staining of the outside of the building done now. The above photo shows the screen porch framed and ready for the screen, but we decided to do the staining at this point rather than try to cover the screens.


Someone sent me this the other day and asked what i think about it:

http://www.foxnews.com/search-results/m/23314264/jobs-vs-environment.htm#q=ely+minnesota

My response may not be the best thought out and organised, but I hurridly jotted down the following:

Well, first off, I'm not really all that "liberal", I don't think, though I took some sort of internet test recently to determine this accurately and I came out a little left of center. Anyway, the Fox news thing wasn't that bad, till the end when she said you might just have to find a different lake to go to, there are, after all, over 10,000 of them. that's funny.



This mining stuff has been in the works for some time. The testing is down around Birch lake near Babbitt, but that all does flow into the BWCA. The environmentalists are getting a little uptight about it, (I don't really consider myself an environmentalist, most of them are more than a bit nutty), but really there is not a lot being said. I like the idea of some sort of industry that might create some jobs other than in the tourist industry, but I don't know a lot about this mining procedure they are talking about. Seems to me though, that there are enough laws in place now, that they would have to come up with something pretty clean to make it happen. Maybe I am naive, in thinking large industry will have to conform to the laws set up by the EPA and folks like that, but I like to think, with the increased attention, they will have to do what needs to be done.



I guess I have taken a somewhat apathetic attitude towards all these things. It seems like thing will happen and there's not a lot we can do except try to make difference in the small circles within our reach. I am more concerned about North Korea, but that is even farther beyond anything I can have an effect on.



On the mining thing, my opinion is, it will be a relatively small operation in the end. they are never going to tear up the land like the iron ore mines did. They will ultimately create a few badly needed jobs and, in the end, everything will be pretty much unchanged, except that the environmentalists and the Rusch Limbaugh types will have something else to argue about. I have other things to expend my energy on. those nuts will never find any common ground. They fight for the sake of fighting, just like the Republicans and Democrats. There is no end.



I wouldn't worry about your real estate value dropping or anything like that.



This is one viable option for creating new jobs, and I can't really think of any others...logging would be good, but the same thing, environmentalists and local people would have to come to some sort of an agreement, and that is just never going to happen.



Like many other similar towns, Ely seems to be dying. Locals who grew up on Burntside can no longer pay taxes and have to sell out to rich people from the cities. There are so many empty houses in town for sale. The only industry will be catering to the tourists, which is a 4 month out of the year deal. Not many can make it on that. All Mom and pop businesses, nothing bigger. Just scraping by.



I will stop there...

Thursday, June 11, 2009


...working on the elevator shaft in our current project. This is a quick shot looking up from the main level. The elevator offers an easy way to get from the basement level all the way to the loft.
Otherwise, elsewhere in the house, we are ready to give it a good cleanup and start on the varnishing in the inside of the building, as well as the exterior stain.

It's been a cool spring so far with just about the right amount of rain. The weather has been very nice if you are not one who is wanting to take a relaxing swim in one of the lakes around here. I haven't tried it yet, but I would think a swim would still be anything but relaxing at this point.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to set up a pool table for one of my clients. This was the second one I had done in my life and I find the task to be an enjoyable and rewarding one. Here is a picture of it in the basement of the home we finished building last year:





Way off topic, we had another one of our kids finish high school a week ago.

I've been thinking a lot about the speech one of the teachers gave at the graduation ceremony last Saturday. Just one of those things that has been bouncing around in my mind for a while now.

Apparently the students voted for the teacher they wished to give the speech. I don't know if they only had one or two to pick from, maybe out of the few that throw their hats in having interest in the job, or if they can pick from all the teachers, or how that process goes, but the same guy gave the speech two years ago when our second one graduated, (last Saturday was our third).

He had some good points, the usual thoughts to be pushed at such an event, but at one point he stressed the importance of "finding a mate", (maybe not his exact words, but that is how I remember it). "People are sociable animals and need someone to live with".

Now, I have nothing against marriage, but these are high school seniors. The last thing I would want to do is promote the idea that the most important thing they need to do now is going off in the world is to find a person to be their spouse. I would also argue that there are many perfectly happy single people in the world.

I know he was using this as a jumping off point to throw some comments about God, (convinced, I'm sure, that this was a gutsy, heroic move in a public school setting), into his speech, (marriage without God will fall apart), but there are many other ways he could have done this. This isn't a marriage counseling class, these are 17 and 18 years old young adults, most of whom are going to enter some of the most stressful, confusing years of their lives right now. The last thing they need is the additional burden of "Now I have to find a spouse".

Fortunately, I doubt if any of the seniors could tell you anything he said after the ceremony.
My wife pointed afterward that, with this particular teacher, the emphasis was on the theatrics of the delivery, not the content.

A few weeks ago I watched as a well meaning adult asked my soon to be graduate the question that came probably more than any other over the past year, "So...what are you going to do after graduation?". I don't remember anything about my own graduation, but I do remember the last year of high school having that question thrown at me by many similar well meaning adults.

In this most recent incident, the response from the future graduate was, "Live life as it comes at you". A cliche for sure, but that is probably the advice I would give if I had to talk to these young adults.

Life will come at you. Guaranteed.

Hopefully, in a few years, when I have to sit through another one of these ceremonies, something a little more inspiring will be said, and in a slightly less theatrical manner. If only for us older folks who are listening.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Another cold morning. 32 degrees when I got up at 5:00. There was frost on the roofs. It is very sunny now and looks like it will be a beautiful day.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

...continuing work on the interior railing. Here is a close-up shot of the railing going up the stairs with the spindles installed:

It was a beautiful day here in Ely today. It started off a little cool, but later became clear and temps touched about 70 degrees. It ended up being a great night for baseball, we had a little league game where all the kids played well, none of the coaches, (or parents that I was aware of), became aggravated, and, though we were loosing going into the 6th inning, we actually pulled out a win in the end. My son said to me on the way home, "this is just one of those perfect days that you wish wouldn't have to end".

Monday, June 1, 2009

Inside we are working on the hand railing that goes around the loft area and stairways. The first step is putting up the posts, in this case, spruce logs measuring 6 to 8 inches diameter. Then the rails are shaped to tenons on the ends and the mortise cut in the post to accept them. The spindles will be put in later.
We like to make the rails and spindles out of Aspen, (or Popple as it is most commonly referred to around here), it is a relatively hard wood, (compared to the coniferous species most popular for this type of purpose), has plenty of character, and it finishes beautifully.