Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years Eve.. I can remember when New Years Eve was always at least 30 below zero. It looks like we will get a bit below zero, they are saying -12 and it is dropping now... I suspect it will get a bit colder than that just because it is clear and it just feels like it is going to get cold, but then it looks like back above zero tomorrow and all is well... but those week long spells where it is 40 below at night with a high of 20 below have not happened in a long time. 

Maybe I just remember things wrong. Maybe winters were always like this... Maybe it's just my old guy equivalent of saying we used to walk 6 miles to and from school in three feet of snow, uphill both ways...
I am not crazy about cold weather and snow. I could probably live somewhere where there is no snow and get along just fine. But here, In Ely... I think there should be a lot more snow right now and it should be a little bit colder. 
Maybe a month from now we will have 30 below and 4 feet of snow and I will wonder why I ever had these thoughts...

But winter is here, there is no question about that.

Spent some time by a fire tonight. about a 3/4 moon. Clear starry sky. About 10 below zero.
A can of beer will freeze in your hand, but if you nestle it in the snow it will be alright...

So where am I at? 
It's been a good year for the most part. We have managed to stay busy with projects... Going into the winter here, though, things have slowed up a bit. A couple projects have fallen into place at the last minute, as usually happens, and I think we will get through to spring OK. The problem in northern Minnesota, of course, in the construction business, is you need to get the projects started before things totally freeze up in order to get any footing or foundation work in. Sure, you can do some siding, remodeling or roofing, but the new complete home or cabin project is nearly impossible to start up.

For my own part, I have plenty of shop work to do and, in fact, I am way behind on that. I have a door project that should have been done in October and another that should probably have been done long before that. I have a hard time getting these projects done when my main focus is on keeping the construction business going and the guys busy.

Looks like there are some things brewing now...some good projects, and we will be plenty busy going into the spring. Whenever that is...

In 2012 we lost a a few great artists.
One who's music is very strong in my life is Doc Watson. one more from Doc to end the year:

Friday, December 21, 2012

December 21st, Winter, Ely, etc...

Such a beautiful sunny winter day today, the Winter Solstice. Temps were about -3 this morning when I left the house. A perfect crisp winter day.

An old beaver lodge in winter, Burntside Lake,
Animal tracks, I'm guessing fox, down on the shore by the old beaver lodge...
Sunny winter solstice on Burntside lake,
The now frozen Burntside Lake looking out from one of the vistas on the Passi Road up the Echo Trail...
 Sometimes, the aging cynic in me wants to fight the cold and the snow as if it is an enemy, intentionally engaging in antagonizing me... But on a day like this, just driving to a job-site up the Echo trail, if I can just stop a moment and breathe...

A Burntside Island, winter solstice,
Another view from one of the overlooks on the Passi Road as I was driving to work this morning...

Winter road through the trees near Burntside lake,
There are worse commutes, I suppose...
We can complain... I certainly can, I do it all the time, the world is not a perfect place by a long shot... I don't know why things happen as they do. When the time comes for me, you can bet I will have some questions to ask, but in the mean time, I need to try to focus on quieting my mind, finding the peace, taking the moments one by one...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

quick blog post: new small winter project

Here is a small project we will be starting on this winter some time.
The homeowner of this log home decided they would like a covered porch entry way area built on to their existing log home.
The porch roof will come out at a 45 degree angle from the intersection of the existing roofs.

This is a typical start to a project like this. Here is a picture of the house as it sits now, where the porch will be added:

Log home before porch project
Picture of the house as it is now with the existing entry.
CAD elevation of covered porch project
This is a CAD elevation of the proposed new roof over the entry deck.

covered porch project, pencil
A quick pencil sketch...
I'm not sure when we will start this exactly, but we got the footings in before the ground froze solid so we can start and time during the winter...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Watching winter come on Burntside Lake near Ely Minnesota

...watching Burntside Lake start to freeze over.
Even though we have had lots of cold and even a brief below zero night, Burntside Lake has remained largely unfrozen so far.
I was at a spot on the west end every day this week. On Tuesday it was all open with ice capping the rocks on the shoreline. I took these pictures, very cold:
icy ricks on Burntside,

Icy capped rocks on shore

Then on Tuesday night the wind died down and a smooth but presumably thin layer of ice covered everything as far as I could see. It looks like open water out there, but it is smooth ice:
Newly frozen Burntside Lake

Burntside Lake newly frozen shoreline,

On Friday, 12/7/12, this picture was taken. Things are solidifying, but I could still break a hole in the ice easily along the shoreline:
Ice all the way accross,

I thought that was it, but then I stopped in at another job-site on Burntside lake, on the larger part of the lake near Burntside Lodge, and the water still looked pretty wild. This picture was taken on Friday too:

Icy rock on Burntside Shoreline,

As I write this on Sunday morning, 12/9 2012, it has started snowing. There are a couple inches on the ground. They are predicting a storm that will ultimately bring 6 to 10 inches with strong winds.

I plan on sitting inside and putting wood on the fire.


In other meaningless news, I turned 51 recently. 
It was OK because I had been 50 for about a year and I was getting tired of it.

Somewhere along the line, I can't remember exactly when, I stopped getting a cake that has individual candles and started getting a cake with just two... like one in the shape of a 5 and one in the shape of a 1.

I'm not sure how significant of an event a birthday is anymore. Or ever was.
I have always had trouble with birthdays. I don't ever remember having one that was significant in any way. I don't have any great birthday stories... wait...well maybe one... But mostly they just passed quietly...

...anyway, I will just mark it here by saying, sometime in the past week or two, I did get another year older.
But I feel pretty much the same.


Hand carved doors, butternut panel,

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Some pictures of a door I built a few years ago. I was digging them out to add to my galleries.
It is a double door built out of Cherry.

Cherry carved door by
Half circular windows, double entry door, custom built for a home in Northern Minnesota. Ely MN
The uncarved interior side of the doors before finishing.

Carved custom door, Ely MN, John Huisman,
The lower left carving on the door. It is a lower relief carving of a trunk of a birch tree.

Ely MN carved doors,
The upper right carving on the custom built Cherry door. It is lower relief than what I usually try to do. The carving is of the leaves of a birch tree.


Winter came in Ely over the Thanksgiving Holiday.
I thought it was here a couple weeks before but the week preceding Thanksgiving saw temperatures in the high 40s and even 50 at one point. The frost that had settled into the came back out resulting in a spring like mud...

But, perhaps it is here to stay this time.
It sure feels like winter now. Several inches of snow fell over the Holiday weekend and it seems like it is here to say.

The chickadees pretty much have the feeder to themselves now. Little tufts of energy... I still don't now how they survive...An occasional nuthatch stops in but, for the most part, the other birds seem to have left us.

..Looks like we are supposed to get a couple warm days here and then back below freezing. That's fine with me. As hard as it is to get used to winter, once it is here I would rather it just stay till it's done. I am not excited about the deep freeze coming in the next couple months, but this flirting with mid 30s temps just not very enjoyable.