Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ice, rocks, tracks...

Not much to take pictures of construction-wise these days...
I was out and about yesterday and saw some tracks down on the lake-shore on Burntside Lake.
I decided to take a walk. It was a warm day and we hadn't seen the sun in a while.
I'm not good at track identification. I am guessing Fox.
I found the ice formations on the rocks interesting.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Looking for stones

As a younger family, we occasionally enjoyed a trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior.
There is no better place than the shore of the Big Lake to look for interesting stones...

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"Mother and Daughter, Searching For Stones on Lake Superior", 14"x22" pencil drawing on Bristol Board by John Huisman

Saturday, November 15, 2014

More pictures of the island cabin

Some more pictures of the island project we have been working on through the summer.
These, of course, were taken a few weeks ago during that nice stretch of Autumn we had this year.
I have since taken the boat out of the water and parked it for the winter.

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Rock floor in the bathroom area.

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Rock floor and back wall for the area around where the wood-stove will be.

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It's a little bit different kind of a house than a lot of the homes and cabins that we have built over the years but it has interesting lines and a very unique setting.

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custom, lake, cabin, huisman, concepts, ely, mn, minnesota, autumn, colors


winter, ely, minnesota, snow, cold, sunset,
The weather is different today.
This morning we had our first below zero temps.
We only have about 3" of snow but it certainly seems here to stay.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October ICF foundation walls

Trying to get concrete work done to get a new cabin construction project started before the snow comes. Another week of beautiful weather. Conditions could certainly be a lot worse this time of year for this type of work:

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Here we have the footings poured and ready for the ICF wall. It is a very short wall and will only be a crawlspace inside.

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Here we have the ICF form put together and ready for filling.

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We have a conveyor truck here to make filling the ICF wall much easier.
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Another shot of filling the ICFs.
 Here is just a very quick video of the conveyor and the process: Filling ICF wall

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And here is the completed foundation wall, ready for our floor framing.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cold Water and Tamaracks, October 2014

Some late season work on an island project. The weather has been beautiful the last couple weeks and a ride across Burntside Lake is particularly enjoyable.
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Traveling alone, it is nice to have a little extra weight in the front. Here I am taking a mini refrigerator that will go under the kitchen counter-top in the cabin. This shot was taken as I approach the island.

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Getting out of the boat and looking up the trail toward the cabin... You can sort of see it through the trees there.

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Recently completed cedar and stainless steel cable railing on the deck.

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The kitchen area where the under counter mini fridge will go.

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The ride across the lake again. Most of the reds have fallen but there are still a lot of late turning Aspen that are giving some golds to the largely evergreen forest. The water is cold. The hazard buoys have all been taken out for the winter so care is required on a lake like this.

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The last trees to turn are the Tamaracks which seemed to reach full color this past week. I think they are a more intense gold than any of the deciduous trees that we normally look to for fall colors. In another week those needles will all be down and they will just look like dead Spruce out in the swamps...
Winter is coming but this past week was one of those amazing and perfect weeks, weather-wise, that you know you only get a few of each year.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Interesting small project this summer

...interesting project this summer in Whiteside Park in Ely. We bid to do the re-roofing and refinishing of the buildings in the park as well as doing something with the lower logs on the bandshell that had not weathered so well over the 20 years or so since this had been built. In the course of thinking about that bandshell issue a little further, in some discussions at park and rec meetings, it came to our attention that the one most common complaint about the structure was it's height from the ground. Performers and spectators alike all said that the stage was just to high. Since we were already faced with the issue of fixing the rotting logs under the front of the stage area, we decided we should think about taking it a step further and see if we could just lower the entire structure, and we came up with a plan to do just that.

The building as it stood this spring before we started anything...

log homes, ely, mn, minnesota, huisman, log,construction, huismanconcepts
This is the closeup of the rotten logs in the front of the building under the stage. The weather just pounds those logs because the roof is so high and the prevailing winds are out of the southwest.

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With the help of McGregor house Movers out of Mt Iron, we raised the building just a hair and took out all the logs from underneath.

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Then we set it back down and finished off the lower area. The stage is now 30" lower than it was before. It was a satisfying project and we have been getting a lot of comments about the improvement.

The Hummingbirds have left us. I think the last one was here last Monday or Tuesday... The feeder was still up all week and we kept looking hopefully out the window over morning coffee but they never returned.

The leaves seem to be turning color as you watch them now. I took a couple pictures on our walk this morning. Pictures never do justice to the autumn leaves. They are reaching an intense level and the Aspen haven't even started yet.
Fall colors, ely, minnesota, huisman, concepts, john Huisman

Fall colors, ely, minnesota, huisman, concepts, john Huisman


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cabinets and a Heron

A few pictures of the nearly finished kitchen in the timber frame home we have been working on.
Cabinets are a Red Birch Blend supplied by Voyageur Lumber in Ely.
Counter-tops are Honed Mesabi Black granite supplied by Laurentian Monument.

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honed, mesabi, black, granite, red birch, cabinets, timber frame, Ely Minnesota, huisman

honed, mesabi, black, granite, red birch, cabinets, timber frame, Ely, MN, huisman

This past Monday evening I attended our monthly Parks and Rec meeting. It was held outside at Semers Park in Ely. It was a cool, early autumn evening... perfect Ely weather for this time of year.

Semers park, Ely, Minnesota, Photo by John Huisman

A Great Blue Heron joined us at the end, landing by the new dock and then flying over to the island and disappearing as they tend to do, in the shadows there.
Great, Blue, Heron, Semers park, Ely, Minnesota, Photo by John Huisman

Great, Blue, Heron, Semers park, Ely, Minnesota, Photo by John Huisman

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Stainless cable exterior deck railing

Some deck railing we completed in the last few weeks.
timber, frame, custom, home, ipe, brazilian, walnut, huisman
Cedar top and bottom rails and then stainless cable in between.
It took me a while to warm up to the stainless cable look, but I am liking it more and more now.
It really is a lot less obstructive to the view, especially on a lake home like this where people want to be able to see the lake from a chair in the living room but still have a deck and railing along the lake side of the house.
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I thought it turned out nice. The decking here is Ipe.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ceramic tile and timber stairs construction

Some progress on a current project, some ceramic tile has been installed in the kitchen and hallway areas over the "Gypcrete" and "in-floor heating system.

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This is the entry area and the walkway back to the master bedroom. To the lift, just past that timber post, is the stairway going to the basement and up to the loft.

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This is the kitchen area. There is an area with some 2x4 cleats for the mounting of the island cabinets. The plumbing for the kitchen sink is along the far wall.

Meanwhile, stairs are being built of pine timbers for accessing the basement and loft areas:
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Beginning layout of one of the 4x12 stringers.

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The assembled lower section of stairs to the basement floor.

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Looking up from the basement level, the timber stair have been assembled in place. The basement ceiling is not yet finished.

Seems the mosquitoes have tapered off as quick as they started. The weather has been pleasant, cool nights and not too hot during the day and jut the right amount of rain when we need it. I imagine we have a bit of summer coming yet at some point but so far it has been very nice...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

2014 Baseball

...and as quick as it started, it is over.
The baseball season has come and gone once again leaving us with this sort of vague emptiness...
Sure there will be some "fall ball" stuff going on and some camps here and there and we can always go to the batting cage and practice, but there is just something about the life that takes over the field during the season... The music, not to loud but just loud enough, coming from the speakers between games and the cheering and crack of the bat and slapping of leather during the games and the always friendly fans milling about...

But even in the off season the field has a quiet energy.
Being there alone reminds me of when I was younger, I used to go to church an hour early just because I liked the meaningful emptiness.

My own youth baseball experience was not a good one. (This was in a place far away from Ely). I think it ended after "T"-ball probably in about 1st grade, (although, if I remember right, we didn't use a "T", we used something called the Harman Killebrew Power-stride)
I was the kid they put in right field, (when they had to put me in), and hoped the ball would never go that direction. I was a daydreamer. Still am, I guess... The coach himself came up with a exceptionally clever nickname, he started calling me "pockets"... He was a clever, funny guy...I wish I could meet him today and have a talk with him about that. I never really thought about baseball again, (or any other sport for that matter), till much later in life...

I lived in Ely for 20 years with only a passing notion that there was a big baseball field, behind the little league field across from the high school.
The older boys lost interest in baseball after a few years of Little League. I fear it might have been because of my attitude toward baseball at the time, (I consider myself to be merely an adequate father even at my best). So we did some other things, basketball, a little hockey, skateboarding, some figure skating and cross country skiing and even a horse...

A few years later, our youngest son took an interest in baseball.

The above picture, I believe, was in 2005, the American Legion had the regional tournament in Ely. My son, Patrick, (wearing the helmet), was still playing little league. It was our first real experience in the big field. That year they let the younger kids "shag" balls, (meaning go and get them), not only out of the field, (fouls and such things), but balls that were in the field but out of play, behind he plate or down the foul lines. Of course, for this, they were required to wear helmets.
Patrick was just happy to be at the field.
And because I didn't realize that this was a place I could just leave a kid that age and he would be fine, I would stay and watch the games.

I started to observe things...
An odd game, baseball. One of the few games that doesn't involve a competition where two teams try to move some sort of object from one end of a given area to the other.
A game with no time limit... (seriously, in theory a game could go on forever).
A game where you can't run out the clock if you are ahead, you have to give the other team a chance.
A game where if you can succeed in the key effort, batting, 3 out of ten times, you were doing pretty darn good.
A game that parallels life in a profound way.
Like life, A game largely consisting of a tense boredom punctuated by intense moments of heroism or failure... you have to watch the whole game or you will miss the important stuff.
A game that teaches patience, every failure brings you closer to the next success.. but there are no guarantees... You learn to work hard in practice and try to be prepared for the moments where opportunity presents itself...
A game that teaches that anger and self pity is destructive and contagious.
A game that teaches to play well, you need to look good. (I have often heard one of our coaches tell someone in the middle of the game to tuck in their shirt).
...on the other hand you are almost certainly going to have to get dirty.

I remember our first trip to the State Tournament as a high school team, and even before that, marveling as I watched the coaches on the sidelines in a nail-biting game. How are they staying so calm? I seriously thought I might be having a heart attack watching my son out there in a big game.
But I have learned.
Even at my age when I think there is nothing more to learn.
I am still crushed when I see a kid make a terrible mistake, (even on the other team), and I am still elated when I see an amazing play or a perfectly hit ball, (even by the other team), but I know now that it is just one play and it is over and now we will move on to the next.
It is a game where you have to take what comes.
Sometimes it's not fair. Sometimes there is a bad call by an ump.
Sometimes things go your way and sometimes not so much.

But you play the best you can day after day and you learn to take responsibility for yourself and your actions and your attitudes...

There are two teams playing.
As they say in baseball, one of three things can happen: you can win, you can loose, or it can rain.
You play to win. Every time.
But you might loose.
In the end, as corny as it sound, it really does matter how you play the game.
And how you loose is as important as how you win.

And those of us in the stands, even at our comparatively advanced age, without realizing it, are learning a great deal about life from watching these young men on the field.

Ely, Baseball, Eric Sherman,
Photo by Eric Sherman, 
Patrick Huisman, 2014 baseball season, Ely Minnesota

Friday, June 20, 2014


I recently needed a piece of granite  for a custom vanity I was working on and so turned again to the guys down at Laurentian Monument. I was given the OK by the home owner to go and pick something out that I thought was nice. They have a lot of nice stone slabs on site now so I figured I would drive down there and take a look. It is one of the funnest things for me to walk around a stone yard like this, the various colors and patterns in the slabs of granite is just so amazing to me and Jeff down at Laurentian Monument always seems happy to show me around the yard and the shop.

As we are walking around the yard a beautiful piece of rock just jumped out at me. I think I said something approximating: "what the heck is that?"

I was then given the update on an interesting project they are working on. He informed me that this was not granite but taconite.
They are building a plant in Biwabik to begin harvesting this stuff to be used as counter-tops or whatever, like granite or marble. I am always intrigued when I hear about something being harvested or manufactured here on the iron range and this really fascinated me.
It seems they have secured funding for a 2.8 million dollar expansion project of which, among other things, they will be producing this product that caught my eye that day in their yard, this amazing, colorful piece of taconite.

From the news release:
LMGS currently produces granite countertops and monuments and is expanding into other areas of natural stone use, such as structural, architectural, decorative and landscaping. The project is expected to create 15 jobs.

It seems uncommon to find businesses that are expanding here on the iron range and it is exciting to see them doing it by producing a product that is unique to this area.

Jeff gave be a little chunk of it for my desk.

Anyway, the stone piece that I was getting from them might be slightly less exciting, but natural stone is natural stone and always very cool. Here are some pictures of the finished project:, huisman, ely, mn, minnesota, custom, construction, huisman, ely, granite, custom, woodworking
Hey, how many angle can you look at the same piece of stone?
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