Showing posts with label Winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winter. Show all posts

10 June 2020

Yooper Update June 2020

It occurred to me that I haven't shared an update on our Yooper project in quite a while. To be honest, we haven't done much. For the remainder of the summer of 2018 we continued peeling off layers of paneling, lath and plaster, and the likes, only to come across issue after issue. A car went off the road about thirty years ago, for instance, and ended up in the living room. The resulting broken studs were never properly repaired. The foundation was seriously bowed inward due to decades of heavy snow pushing against it. The kitchen floor and joists were rotted through.

So, somewhere in August we decided to temporarily throw in the towel on the one house and focus on the other for a little bit. We cleaned it out, painted the downstairs, and moved in. And that's where we have stayed for the past two years. We did put a new roof on the first home because we feared it would not last another Michigan winter without better protection, but that was about it.

For the past eighteen months we didn't do much more than hang out, enjoy the area, and putz a little bit in the woods. We paddle boarded on the Montreal River, swam in Lac La Belle, encountered a wolf on the way there, and enjoyed the summer weather with family and friends.

But the houses won't fix themselves. And so we've made a plan, along with a budget, for everything that needs to be done. We are currently looking at financing because there is a lot on that to-do list. If we go the bank route, we'll be done at the end of the summer - I remain ever the optimist - and can rent out the houses during the winter sports season. They're perfectly situated for that; right on the snowmobile trail, a few miles from Mt. Bohemia.

If we decide not to finance this endeavor, it will be a ten-year plan with one large project every (other) year. This year's projects, regardless of financing, are putting in a driveway and fixing the foundation. We made a very solid start with the driveway last week, and the foundation repair is done. Onward!

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05 February 2014

Butt Hurt

Sunday was a glorious day. Sunny, blue sky, not too warm, not too cold. My kind of outdoor sports weather. So Ryan and I gave Lola away to my cousin and the two of us went cross country skiing together. We had never done it but had always wanted to. Whitnall Park, just south of Milwaukee, rents skis and snow shoes for the afternoon.

It’s not as easy as it looks. Those skinny skis are mighty slippery and the forward walking motion is a little awkward. Without proper trails –and what trails there are have been destroyed by people walking dogs, snow shoers, sleds, and butts- it’s even more difficult. I fell within seconds of taking off, and again the first time the trail went downhill. But after a while we got the hang of it and found it a most enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.

Until I fell for the third time. It was a flat surface, and I wasn’t even moving. But somehow I lost my balance and fell on my butt. And this time, there was no layer of fresh powder snow to cushion the fall. It hurt. A lot. But I got up and continued on my way, telling myself to ski it off. Not that there was a choice about it, we were on the far end of the park.

I did take off my skis to go down a particularly steep bit since I hadn’t made it downhill at all without falling, and I didn’t want to risk my tailbone again. Especially after Ryan flew into the trees in a most spectacular way there. When we got to the end of the trail however, I found I was not able to bend over to take off my skis. Not good.

And so, after dropping Lola off at school Monday morning, I continued on to St. Francis to ascertain whether or not my tailbone was broken. It wasn’t, merely severely bruised. The pain should go away in a day or ten. I can’t take any good drugs for the pain since they cause constipation and that is the last thing you want in my situation. Ibuprofen it is then.
Bummer. At least I am not a broke ass, just butt hurt.

20 January 2014

Winter Sports

Like every self respecting big city, Milwaukee has a downtown outdoor ice rink. Much ice skating fun there is to be had, with upbeat music blasting from the speakers and hot chocolates provided by the local Starbucks.

Unlike other big cities, Milwaukee also has an indoor Olympic training oval, the Pettit Center. Also a great place to go ice skating, sans hip drinks and tunes. With, however, real live Olympians running about.

When the Olympians leave the ice, ordinary people can skate there, too. We signed Lola and her cousins up for skating lessons this winter. Every week, they learn the basics of gliding on ice.

Under the watchful eyes of their dads, Lola, M. and C. are learning to balance on skates, fall and get up, glide, and skate backwards. With varying success, I must say. But they are having a lot of fun.

We also signed Lola up for six weeks of skiing lessons, another winter pastime she loves. And while she has not yet set her sights on Mt. Bohemia, her father’s favorite spot, she is getting to be quite good.

22 January 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I just shipped Lola off to school, two hours later than normal. Our school district started with a two hour delay because of the cold. Schools were closed all day yesterday in the UP and I am sure they are today as well. I had never heard of Cold Days before, only Snow Days.

It was 14 below this morning when Ryan left, with a wind chill of 25 below. For the folks back home who are complaining about the cold, or lack thereof - another Elfstedentocht just bit the dust, that's -26 and -32 Celsius. Brrr!

Today's high will be a balmy 7 degrees (-14 C). It sure is pretty though, the bright blue sky and the sun reflecting on the snow. If only I could stay inside all day.

11 December 2012

One Wish Granted

As I type this, my mother’s plane is taking off. In just a few short hours she’ll be here. I can hardly wait. I’ve got to finish up one work project, scrub a few toilets, and throw a vacuum cleaner around the house. And then I can enjoy the rest of the week off.

My mom ordered snow. Not so much that it hinders traffic. Just enough to makes things pretty. Here you go, mom! Just for you.

29 February 2012

Round One With The Shovel

The Universe had the good foresight to ignore my plea for snow last December. For that I am truly grateful since Ryan conveniently broke his arm just in time for shoveling season. So far it hasn't been too bad. An inch here or there just makes for a nice workout to start my day with.

Until today. We woke up to a foot of snow and counting. Naturally it's not the light, fluffy kind. No it's the wet, heavy kind. After I cleared a path to the garage and did about a third of the driveway I got a break. Our neighbor with the burly snow blower asked if I didn't mind if he lent a hand.

I didn't mind.

While he cleared the rest of the driveway and the sidewalk, I dug out the steps, freed the front door, and tackled the 5 ft. pile of dense snow on the corner deposited by the snow plow this morning. Another neighbor with a big plow attachment on his truck pulled over to see if he too could help out. Snow brings out good things in people.

We live on a snow mobile trail and for the first time this winter I have heard them drive by. They're noisy. Lola had a snow day today, and is playing with the little girl from across the street. I am watching the snow continue to fall from the cosiness of my bedroom while I massage my shoulders and mentally prepare for round two.

15 December 2011

Let It Snow. Please.

My sister-in-law warned me when I asked for snow. “Be careful what you wish for!” She has a very valid point. But really people, when I look outside into my yard, I feel sad. It’s gloomy, foggy, damp, and dark. If I wanted Washington or Dutch weather, I would have stayed there. I want snow. I am entitled to snow. That’s what living in the Northwoods is all about, after all.

Last year around this time, we just came out of a snow storm. On this morning last year, I froze my butt off outside at five in the morning trying to catch a glimpse of the Geminids meteor shower. This year, because of the fog, I didn’t even bother getting out of bed. And yesterday Lola's 4K class went on a field trip to a Christmas tree farm to get the class Christmas tree. The weather was pitiful. It rained.

Now, I am not ignoring my sister-in-law completely. And I have found out through the years that the universe is somewhat in tune with this blog. Therefore I will phrase my weather wishes very carefully here so that the weather gods know exactly what to send our way and when.

First off, I would like a White Christmas. I have had too many Green Christmases and they are just not the same. Second, we have plans to go skiing after Christmas which also requires large amounts of snow. I think a snow storm on or around Christmas Eve would be grand. Christmas Day is fine, too. We live right next to Church and that’s really the only reason for us to leave the house on those days.

As for 2012 and the rest of winter, January and February involve lots of skiing, snowmobiling, and other fun outdoor activities requiring snow. March is when it gets tricky. I suppose it’s too much to ask to actually start spring on the first day of spring, but April showers should be rain showers, not snow.

I know I am not the only one with weather wishes. It must be very confusing for the weather gods to accommodate everyone which is probably why weather forecasters never get it right. But please, bring us some snow right now. Tis the season…

Thank you.

07 December 2011

Doily Snowflakes

The snow is taking its time this year. We have had a few inches here and there, but that has mostly melted away. I have resorted to making my own snowflakes by freezing doilies in baking pans and hanging them in the trees in our backyard. They sparkle when the sunlight hits them.

I love it! But now I want the real thing. The forecast tells me not this week, though. Not yet.

01 December 2011

Kids And Snow

At 6:30 this morning Lola was jumping around, ready to go outside because it had snowed last night, turning the world into a beautiful winter wonderland. Half an hour later she ran back inside, telling me she found deer tracks and I had to come out and take a look. It must have been a buck, according to Lola, that passed through our yard in the middle of the night. So there I was, just after 7 AM, checking out the deer tracks that look remarkably like cat paws.

Next she wanted to play with her sled. "Can I please have my sled back?" she pleaded. I had confiscated it to use in my little front porch winter styling project. I was just about to take apart my still life when I remembered we have another sled. Lola happily played with the bright orange plastic one, rattling on about unicorns and ponies.

Meanwhile I shoveled the snow from our front and back steps. We wouldn't want the plumber, who is scheduled to arrive in an hour, to slip and break something. I'll never be able to use the dishwasher then.

09 November 2011

Let It Snow

Inspired by a pin on Pinterest (which I could not trace to its creator - I'm sorry, I tried), I recreated Frosty the Snowman out of three grapevine wreaths, some burlap, and a piece of plywood cut in the shape of a top hat on the side of the garage. Lola looked on from the upstairs window, giving me the thumbs up when I finished assembling him.

For two days we have been promised snow, and contrary to what I said in my previous post, I was actually looking forward to it. It seemed a little unlikely with Monday being a gorgeous and sunny day with temperatures in the low sixties. And, even though it was a dreary and cold day, it didn't really surprise me that we didn't see a single snowflake all day yesterday or last night.

This morning the temperature had dropped even further but all it did was rain. Until thirty minutes ago...

Frosty the Snowman
I am sharing this on A Little Birdie Told Me... at Rook No. 17.

Update: a very basic How To can be found at Dutch Girl Originals.

03 November 2011

Winter Prep

I read on a fellow Wisconsinite's blog this morning that it snowed last night in her neck of the woods. [Gulp] Snow! I am not quite ready for it. I may be in full Thanksgiving preparation mode and Christmas is only 50 something days away, but I like the sunny fall weather we're having. I want it to stick around for awhile.

Reading about her snowfall sent me into a little cleaning frenzy. The bird feeders have been cleaned and filled. The last of the window screens have been taken down and brought in. The outside faucet has been shut off and drained, and the garden hose is safely stored inside the garage. Lola's wading pool has also been stored away. And as soon as I bring in the last of my garden herbs (I just don't know where to put them right now), the outside is done.

And since it was such a lovely day, and I was busy cleaning anyway, I washed most of the windows as well. Martha would be very proud, I'm sure.

27 August 2011

I Will Survive

Since moving house, my commute is back up to fifty minutes. In the summer that is. I expect it to be quite a bit longer in the winter. The road I take now is not a well traveled, well plowed, well salted highway like the one I took last year. No, these days I drive down an itty bitty country road, with lots of lovely curves. The first part is not too bad, but as I get closer to the casino the road gets rougher. About twenty minutes out, I have to make a choice: take F, which has co-workers shoot me looks of pity, or C, which, in the winter, is certain death.

But even in good weather it’s a tricky drive. I practice my dodging skills daily with the help of care free bear, oblivious deer, and suicidal poultry. There is the occasional raccoon family to avoid, or the odd sandhill crane. And if it’s not an animal testing my reflexes, it’s the Fedex truck tearing around the corner like a bat out of hell. The drive is even more fun in the dark, as you can imagine.

I am however, determined to survive the months ahead. I have replaced the tires on my car with all weather, all terrain ones and had them slashed for extra traction. My subscription to OnStar is renewed and I have started to stock the car with emergency supplies. I should be fine.

Fingers crossed.

And maybe send up a prayer or two.

13 March 2011

No More White Stuff

We decided we needed more color around the house, we are done with the white stuff up here. But since spring colors are nowhere to be found yet, we went ahead and made our own with water and a few drops of food coloring. Much better!

28 February 2011

Trespassers Will Be Shot

Back when Scotland was just a stone throw away, I used to do quite a bit of hiking in the high and lowlands. Scottish law demands that owners of private land allow hikers the right of way. A lovely piece of legislature, opening up the entire Scottish countryside to all who wish to enjoy it. Hikers in turn are expected to keep up their end by staying on the path, picking up after themselves, and not disturbing nature and live stock. This practice is not known in the UP, Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Yoopers do not allow you the right of way, they shoot you instead.

We left Rhinelander early Saturday morning for an impromptu visit to the Keweenaw Peninsula in the UP, just over a three hour drive from the Northwoods. It is still winter up there with several feet of snow. Ryan has traveled there a few times this season, to go skiing with his brother at Mount Bohemia. He wanted to show us this beautiful place on Lake Superior, look at some land, and putz around on snow shoes. And I was hoping to see a moose.

We picked Mount Houghton as our snow shoeing destination. We purchased a topographical map of the area, programmed the coordinates into Penelope - our GPS, and scouted the best place to park Big Blue and commence our hike. About a hundred yards into our ascent we stumbled upon a house. It was clear it was occupied for the weekend but no one was there when we approached. We quickly walked around the house and continued on our way. Ryan was very uncomfortable with this, but I did not see what the big deal was.

On our way down, we noticed a car parked by the house and decided not to barge through the yard but instead give it a wide berth. While we did not speak a word, it is impossible to be stealthy on snow shoes. Snow may fall quietly and muffle all sounds, it makes an amazing amount of noise when you walk on it. Whoever was staying at the house obviously noticed us creeping about. The next thing we heard was a semi-automatic rifle being emptied into the air.

We ran as fast as we could, which wasn't fast at all. The gun-toting Yooper got in his car and followed us. When he caught up to us, he stopped. We were in the woods, about thirty feet to his right. We ducked, feeling awfully silly because in no way were we reducing our visibility by crouching down. He did not get out of his car but drove on and stopped next to Big Blue, parked at the end of the road.

I had left a note on the dashboard with what we were doing, where we were going, and at what time we left, in case something happened to us. We stood at the top of the hill watching the man circle our car. He must have read the note, seen Lola's car seat, and decided we were not a threat. He got back in his car and drove off. We quickly made our way down, took off our gear, and left.

We were more shocked than scared, to tell you the truth. Other than this incident, which reads more frightening than it was, our weekend was wonderful. The countryside was lovely, the snow abundant, and the weather glorious. We even got a little sun burnt. But sadly, no moose.

25 February 2011


A ring around the moon is said to be the bearer of bad weather. Last weekend I learned that is true.

It was white knuckle driving, coming back from Oshkosh. We didn't get much snow up north, and it's almost all gone again. I don't like this in between phase we're in. Either give me some good winter weather with lots of snow or go away altogether and make way for spring.

Make up your mind, winter!

17 February 2011

Indoor Waterpark

It’s been in the high forties and low fifties here lately. The snow is starting to melt away, meaning things are getting messy. The once white snow along the side of the road is now an ugly grayish brown. The spots of grass that are popping up look a little worse for wear. The creatures are coming out of the woods. Twice this week I have had to hit the breaks for suicidal squirrels. The thaw won’t last long. The forecast for the weekend shows dropping temperatures and more snow to cover up all that mud and chase us back inside.

In the meantime, the thaw is an awesome way to find out if your plumbing suffered any damage from the deep freeze of the last few months. Not the main waterline, we would have known that a long time ago. I am talking about the little pipe that connects to the outside faucet. When I turned off the lights in the living room last night, I heard a strange noise coming from the entryway. I followed the noise to the back of the coat closet to find large quantities of water spewing from the wall.

After running back to the living room to grab a flash light and my husband, we discovered the water was not actually coming out of the wall, but from a burst pipe hidden by two Styrofoam boards. We turned off the valve and took in the damage. Not too bad at first sight. Our coats were hanging high and dry and most of the other stuff in the closet was packed in plastic bins. The only object at risk was the vacuum cleaner.

The coat closet connects to the guest room closet and it was easier to grab the vacuum cleaner from that side. I walked around to the guest room and stepped right into a pool of icy cold water, over an inch high. It took my breath away, so cold. There was hardly any water in the closet because it had all flowed into the guest room. As I walked on the carpet, it waved due to the water underneath it. The room had turned into a giant waterbed. Just what you need when you're getting ready to turn in.

Sometimes it’s very convenient not to have furniture to fill up every room in the house. The air mattress we offer our guests floats and the Goodwill finds stored in the guest room are awaiting restoration anyway. The plumber has deemed us a ‘non emergency’ and will not show up for another week. I just hope our landlord can find someone to clean up the water in the meantime.

Or we could pump in some more water, open the downstairs windows and create our own indoor ice skating rink. That would be fun!

09 February 2011


Two days before I left for Palm Springs, we joined my brother and sister-in-law and my nieces for a short trip to Granite Peak, a ski area a few miles outside of Wausau. It is a fun little ski hill, just over an hour away from Rhinelander. A perfect place for Lola to learn how to ski.

Although she was more excited about the hotel's indoor water park, she was also looking forward to playing in the snow. Like all toddlers, she caught on pretty quick once she got used to having really big feet all of a sudden and figured out how to balance herself by leaning forward. We had her strapped in a harness so she couldn't get away from us.

The second day we enrolled her in a toddler ski class for two hours. She is now a pro. She can make turns, pizza slices, and duck feet. That's really all one needs to know to successfully conquer the slopes. And she loved the ski lifts. Mama not so much once she found out they didn't have safety bars! It didn't bother Lola one bit, but I hung on for dear life.

I could not believe it. I still can't. In this overprotective country where I am scolded for not forcing my child to wear a helmet when she is riding her tricycle, that same child is allowed to dangle thirty feet above ground on a skinny bench with nothing in place to prevent her from falling off. And nobody bats an eye.

Despite this shortcoming, we are returning at the end of the month for some more fun in the snow. No water park this time though. Lola will be disappointed, I'm sure.