09 October 2019

Back To Blogger

When I started blogging, well over a decade ago, I really enjoyed learning all aspects of the use of social media. I had the two blogs, each with their own corresponding Facebook page, a linked Twitter account, you name it. I spent quite a bit of time trying to grow my audience, teaching myself the use of analytics, and actively participated in the blogging community. Our circumstances at the time were a bit challenging to put it mildly, and acquiring new skills, as well as writing the posts themselves, made for great, not to mention cheap, therapy.

Over time my need for therapy diminished, and with it the number of blog posts, until eventually it all fizzled out. Purchasing the two miner's homes in the UP, however, renewed the urge to write and keep you abreast of our Yooper adventures. What I don't have the time for this time around, nor the inclination, is expanding my social media skills. Due to some Blogger issues last year, I ended up purchasing a Wordpress blog and a new domain. But to be honest, I am not happy with it. I don't like how it looks, I don't know how it works, and I just don't care enough to do something about it. I overcame my Blogger troubles so I moved the handful of Wordpress posts over and am calling it a day.

I am not sure if I am going to keep the blogs' Facebook pages going. They only exist to call attention to new posts. And for that I can use my personal Facebook page just as easy. These updates go remarkably well with posts about the kid and the cat, some random funny videos and memes, and the occasional demonstration of intense displeasure with the lawless grifters that currently occupy the White House. Right?

06 August 2019

Montreal Mining Company - June 2018

We returned to the UP just about every other week last year, to work on the cabins. After cleaning the first one out, we started gutting the inside, focusing on the downstairs. Most of it was lath and plaster which was covered with wood planks in the bar and kitchen, fake wood paneling in the living room, and dodgy sheet-rock in the upstairs bedrooms.


We ripped out the kitchen ceiling, exposing a vaulted ceiling with rough cut rafters. Next we tackled the living room walls. First went the paneling, followed by the ceiling with fake wood beams, and finally the lath. The squirrel that lived in the beams was most displeased with the noise and the dust and decided to move out. It’s quite possible he has moved back in the meantime, but I haven’t seen any evidence of him.


After we cleared the bedrooms of everything but a wood stove, an antique iron bed frame, and a dresser, we set up camp upstairs with cots, blow up mattress pads, and sleeping bags we could leave behind. Once I figured out a semi-permanent solution to keep the mosquitoes out, it was really quite comfy up there. And relatively clean.


To collect all the debris, we had a thirty or forty ton dumpster delivered, I can’t remember the size but it was huge, which we filled up at an alarming speed. We made great big campfires with the wood we cannot reuse, everything else went in the dumpster.


It wasn’t all work and no play, much to Lola’s relief. We finally stopped at the Hanka Homestead, an outdoor museum depicting life of Finnish immigrants in the Upper Peninsula one hundred years ago. We used to drive by it every time we came up from Milwaukee, and it has been on my to-do list forever. It is a very well maintained homestead with several barns and a spring house, looked after by volunteers, and I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the neighborhood. Bring bug spray!





29 July 2019

Montreal Mining Company - May 2018

The original idea for the cabins was to fix them both up at the same time, but that turned out to not be financially viable. Instead we focused on the house that was in desperate need of a new roof and siding. For two reasons, really: 1) without a new roof, it would not last much longer, and 2) it had a working wood stove. We contacted a local contractor by the name of Walt to quote us a metal roof and siding, as well as new windows and a driveway.



Unfortunately the price of steel increased substantially between the initial quote and our order. So much in fact, that we decided to change course altogether. We still contracted out the roof because we’re afraid of heights, but are seriously considering doing the rest ourselves. One room at a time, we will remove the old lath and plaster, and put in insulation and tongue and groove planking. New windows, new flooring if needed, and finally new siding, starting with the front because that needs it most.


We butted heads a little on the insulation. Ryan was a big supporter of spray foam insulation, while I felt using fiberglass or foam sheets would allow us to scour CraigsList and save some money. While I agree that spray foam is the superior product, it requires the whole house to be done at once. I was still making my case for fiberglass when I removed the old insulation in the kitchen, encountering a snake nest with live occupants. Needless to say, I instantly saw the light. Spray foam insulation it is.


After the initial cleaning in April, we returned in May to find the snow gone, in its place a lot of previously buried treasures. We discovered a decrepit golf cart, piles and piles of lumber, an unusually large number of utensils, and tons of beer cans and bottles. In short, more to clean up. Cleaning would be the recurring theme for the Summer of 2018. We cleaned the yard, the upstairs, and even the outhouse. We then moved the outhouse further back on the property because it’s just not that great a thing to have in your outdoor sitting area.



We had help. One of Ryan’s high school friends came up to give us a hand, bringing his daughter to keep Lola company while he and Ryan broke up the bunk beds and chucked a dozen mattresses, old chairs, and other random furniture out the window.


Progress is slow, but it is being made. And every now and then we’re getting a glimpse of what it will look like when it’s done.





26 July 2019

Montreal Mining Company - April 2018

I don’t know about you but I prefer my blog posts with photos, especially when reporting on renovation projects. Yet it is those same photos that trip me up. Because pictures need to be selected, downloaded, edited, and when taken with an iPhone, converted to a different file format. And before you know it, a year has passed, and no progress reporting has been done. That doesn’t mean we didn’t do anything, though. On the contrary.


We worked hard on the UP properties last year. Starting in April, we traveled north just about every other weekend, and cleaned our butts off. Moving from Milwaukee to Wausau the year before meant cutting our trip in half, time-wise, bringing it to approximately four hours.

During the month of April, the world was still covered in several feet of snow, making it impossible to drive onto the property. We would park on the road and slip and slide down to houses, with cleaning supplies and wood for the wood burner.


The previous owner was not able to clean out the cabins for health reasons, and he ended up donating almost everything in them to us. While that was a very generous offer, the cabins were mainly used as a guys’ hunting camp and the decor wasn’t quite what we had in mind, with the exception of the log table/bench you see below. It was put there by the miners some 100 years ago and it, and its mate because there are two, is not going anywhere. They are too heavy to carry out so we renovate around them.


We started by cleaning up the bar area. All of the windows need replacing but for now a blanket covers up the cracks. After that we tackled the rest of the downstairs area.







It wasn’t all work and no play, though. All this snow needs to be appreciated while it’s still there.







19 April 2018

New Adventures In The UP

Hey there! Yes, it’s been awhile. Almost four years in fact. The three of us are well. New jobs, new address, new school, the usual. I recommend using pencil to write down our address. Tempting as it is, I am not going to sum up the past four years. The only thing I will tell you is that Sandman died. We knew it was coming but it was still heartbreaking when it became clear his time had come. He died on November 29, 2017 at the ripe old age of seventeen years, eight months, and an unknown number of days. I miss him. He was such a cool cat.


Of course a new location means a new blog name is in order since our adventures are no longer taking place on the southside of Milwaukee. I have decided to take the location out of the name and go neutral: The Dutch Girl’s Adventures. Nice and simple, and it can follow me everywhere we go. I did run into a Blogger issue when I tried to make the changes on the blog itself. I am able to change the sidebar items but not the theme or the header, and I cannot add a new post, nor edit existing ones. This is a problem, obviously. Hence my move to Wordpress and the new domain: thedutchgirlsadventures dot COM. Dot NET with all my previous posts will remain active until I figure out how to transfer them. (ETA: the Wordpress blog is not working out for me and since I was able to figure out the Blogger issues, I am going to continue working at Dot NET.)

So why pick up my virtual pen again? Well, we purchased some land in the UP. We started small with eight acres back in 2015. But last year our neighbor put his land up for sale and we were able to buy it from him. His acreage came with two cabins. Two very old, very dilapidated mine workers’ homes which we will be fixing up this year. The two houses were part of a row of ten or twelve miners’ homes when the Delaware mine across the road was still in operation, and the only ones left standing.


I am looking forward to posting about our progress. We're going up this weekend to do some more cleaning. The cabins have acted as a deer camp for Yooper dudes for the past twenty-odd years. The left house is also home to a mouse family while a squirrel, or two, resides in the house on the right. And then there's the flies. Oh God, the flies..., so, so many. Evidently they hibernate. All they need is a little heat to awaken. They huddle together on the walls behind posters and such. The higher the paper content, they better they seem to like it. When I started taking down the decor in the makeshift bar, I was surprised by hundreds of live flies. [Shudder.]

Before I host a tour of the inside in the coming days, it's good to remind everyone, ourselves perhaps most of all, that Ryan and I are no strangers to fixing up hovels. Once upon a time we turned this:


into this:


We can do this. And this time around, we have a contractor. More to come soon.

01 July 2014

Life’s Little Annoyances

The planet Mercury is in retrograde. Well, was. Depending on who you talk to, it will move forward again starting either today or tomorrow at 7:49 PM CST. I am not taking any chances so I will keep my head down until tomorrow evening. To be totally honest, I do not put much stock into things like this but it’s nice to have something to blame for all the bad luck that has recently come our way.

While Mercury was traveling backwards through the skies, we dealt with a flooded basement on a daily basis, a leaky roof, and a car that keeps telling us it wants its brakes fixed even though we just paid $160 to establish the only thing broken is the messaging system itself. There are documents that have mysteriously disappeared, I got a parking ticket even though I have a permit, and I just spilled coffee all over myself.

However, as someone pointed out to me earlier, what about the people who are having good luck? The Dutch team comes to mind, with their win over Mexico. A very valid point. One that I don't have an answer for because there is no answer. Well, maybe that Ryan and I took one, or several, for the team?

Whatever the reason, the basement is fixed, the roof will be, the car is not broken, and my parking ticket has been voided. With the exception of the coffee stains, all is well again. Onward and upward we go, Mercury included. And hopefully Team Netherlands as well. Hup Holland, hup!

17 June 2014

First Grader

"So what happened to Pluto?" she asked, as I was putting her to bed. She was talking about the planet, not the dog. No idea where the question came from, but I answered it the best of my knowledge. Lola likes school. She is starting to read. She read to me this evening, instead of I to her.

I am so proud of her, as I suffer through every other word being sounded out.

Take It To The Bridge

Together with a dozen or so present and former colleagues, Ryan and I handed out water and Gatorade to roughly 8,200 runners in the annual Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole Run last Saturday. We manned Water Station #3 at the top of the Hoan Bridge. It was a wee bit early, we started at 5 AM, but the spectacular view more than made up for the hour!

Handing Out Water to the Runners
Hoan Bridge
Hoan Bridge Up Close
Lake Michigan
Milwaukee Art Museum

16 June 2014

Ryan And The Electric Eel

Sounds like the name of a band, doesn’t it? Or a children’s movie perhaps, a funny TV show, an exciting book? It’s not. It is a tool, a very burly one. They can be rented at your local DIY store to clean up your sh*t. Ryan’s favorite thing to do on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

We are having some issues in the basement. Every time it rains the basement floods. Every time we shower the basement floods. Every time we flush the toilets, the basement floods. Basically anything involving water will cause our basement to flood. The sump pump we purchased is not up to the job because of the silt that blocks the water intake and causes the pump’s motor to overheat.

Egged on by my cousin and me, who were raised to attempt everything yourself before calling in the professionals, Ryan rented the Electric Eel: a burly machine that pushes and rotates a sharp object attached to a steel cable down the drain and cuts up whatever is in its way. Then you pull it back out, insert a bigger sharp object and do it all over again. Until the obstruction is completely gone and your water flows freely again. Sounds easy enough, in theory.

The reality is a little different. First off, you don’t stick the Eel down the drain in the floor but open up a pipe that connects to the main line, usually located closer to the street. The Home Depot guy told us the blockage is always in that pipe. In our case we found out there was nothing to open up. We found a pipe going down into the newly poured cement floor at the front, but it is not capped off. That can’t be good. When we looked inside, we could not see anything alarming. We figured the blockage was probably not there, but in the part that’s under our floor. If that pipe had been blocked, then our basement would have flooded from there as well since it was not closed off.

But what do we know, we’re not professionals, and the tool was paid for, so we stuck the Eel down that pipe anyway. We pushed the line down as far out as it went, about thirty feet. Then we hauled it back in. That was the fun part. The engine had some trouble pulling all that weight, and Ryan had to give it a hand. Hanging directly over the pipe, he got up close and personal with the contents of the sewer. He was not happy and very vocally so. It did stink, I’ll give him that, but Lola’s diapers were so much worse. What was truly awful though, was the brown splatter flying off the cable when it rolled back up onto the reel. I held up a piece of cardboard to catch most of it, but not all.

The worst part of it was that it didn't do any good. The water pooling in the drain was still there. Nothing had changed. We had only proven to ourselves what we already knew: we are the exception to the rule and our blockage is under the house. And for that we need a professional. So we hauled the heavy-ass machine back up the stairs, hosed it off, and took it back to the Home Depot. For the time being, we’ll take short showers and hope it doesn't rain. Oh, the joy of home ownership.

13 June 2014

All Cats Look Gray in The Dark

Now that we have traded in the trendy industrial neighborhood for a residential one, we run into typical residential issues. For instance our neighbors have cats, just like we do. And their cats are curious, just like ours are. So when they see the basement window ajar, to accommodate the hose pumping out the flooded basement, they venture inside to explore our home. And no doubt, help themselves to the cat food in the kitchen.

While the humans are very friendly towards the neighborhood pets, the animals are not. The older, grumpier cat in particular. Sandman howls at the intruders in a way that makes your hair stand up straight. Naturally this occurs in the middle of the night. And when he’s chased them off, he turns on the young, happy-go-lucky cat relatively new to our household and howls and hisses at him. Makes for long nights, I tell ya.

It has made me wonder if Sandman’s eyesight might be failing. I cannot discuss this with Ryan because he does not want to consider the fact that his boy is fourteen years old now, a most respectable age. But being an older cat comes with some problems. When he thinks no-one is looking, he obviously has trouble with jumping onto chairs. He has stopped hunting a while ago. He will walk straight at me but jump with four feet in the air when I call his name.

The other night he walked up to Fluffy ever so cautiously, with his ears flat against his head. When he was about a foot away from him, he visibly relaxed in an “Oh, it’s you” kind of way and walked off. That really convinced me he can no longer see very well. There is no visible sign of cataracts, or any other obvious eye problem. Perhaps I should perform some of the cat vision tests I found on the web. Yes, they do exist and no, they do not involve a chart.

Then again, we just moved into a new house where nothing is where it should be. And Sandman is not bumping into any boxes or furniture. Perhaps he’s just grabbing his chance to beat up the little pest that has forced him to share snuggles, attention, and food. I wouldn't put it past him. Most likely things will settle down when we unpack all those boxes and the house starts looking more like a home instead of a warehouse. It will certainly improve my mood.

04 June 2014

Back By Popular Demand

I was recently requested on Facebook to do a little blogging. I guess I should if I mean to keep this online diary somewhat up to date. And in truth, we have had some big changes around here since my last post. (My butt is all better, by the way, though it took a lot longer than seven to ten days.)

Big Change One

Santa Claus brought Lola a kitten for Christmas. She really, really, really wanted one and he caved, knowing that Sandman is still not a fan of her and she does love animals so. Fluffy, who also goes by the name Junior, is a cute little puffball. Contrary to what the book says about Birman cats, he is a very vocal cat. We try to train him to be quiet, by spraying him with water when he gets out of control, but it does us little good. He does seem to have developed a love for bathtubs and holds no grudges whatsoever about the water. Sandman has warmed up to him, after pouting for a little bit, and while they do not snuggle, they do play together every day.



















Big Change Two

After many frustrating and fruitless attempts to find gainful employment in Milwaukee, I have finally returned to work. I too work for our friendly local cable provider now, just like my husband. After two weeks of intense training, I am learning the job on the job. I am in the quality control business now, where my attention to detail and somewhat anal tendencies are put to good use. It’s fun. I like my colleagues and for the first time in my life, I can ride my bike to work. Not that I have, but I could if I wanted to.

Big Change Three

We have moved. Again. As soon as it became obvious we would be staying in Milwaukee for a while, we started looking for a place of our own. Our apartment was fabulous, but the price tag was not, and there were a few other things as well. We bought a cute little house a couple of blocks down the street and we moved into it last weekend. You would think with all this moving experience we would know better than to underestimate the job, but no. However, it’s done and the place looks like a hoarder’s paradise. After three days of searching for it, I have finally located the missing coffee maker. Next on the docket is creating a path to the cable outlets so that our friendly local cable provider can transfer our services.

So much for the most recent adventures from the Southside. I am sure there is more, and who knows, perhaps I will be a little more disciplined in the future and post on a semi regular basis again. Maybe even include a few pictures. Just as soon as I can find my computer. And the charger. And my camera. And the cable to connect my camera to the computer…

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