Sunday, December 3, 2017

Let the Holidays Begin!

All that snow I talked about in my last post disappeared with the mild temperatures we’ve had lately, but … forecast is for possible blizzard conditions tomorrow with 4-10” accumulation.  We’ll see what happens!

It’s almost 10 pm on Sunday night, so this will be a quick post.  Really this post is for Sue, as I promised to put up some photos of our Christmas decorations.  So … here ya go, girlfriend!

I confess to this being the earliest I have put up decorations, having them out and up about a week before Thanksgiving.  I know that’s early, but there was snow on the ground, it was cold, it’s our first holiday season in a sticks-n-bricks home again in about 8 years, and Dave and I both really like Christmas.

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Decorations box – items we used in the RV

Stocking from Scotland 11132017

The stocking Dave gave me Christmas 2005 in Scotland.  It became the doggies’ stocking after that.

In the RV, we had a small – about a foot high – tree that had fiber optic lights on it powered by a battery.  We wanted something a bit larger now that we have more room.  So we bought a 4-foot artificial tree, some ornaments, a topper and … icicles!

Tree icicles

I’d either forgotten how to do this or was the victim of poor packaging!

Christmas tree 11142017

The end result wasn’t bad, after all!  The “snow” at the bottom is the old-fashioned cotton kind, but has iridescent fibers in it, so it shimmers or “twinkles” a bit when the tree lights are on.  Pretty nifty, actually.

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That’s the little “RV” tree in the center.  That’s the front living room window.

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Front door

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My office

Last Wednesday, we drove down to the visitors center/park at the lake.  The town lighting ceremony was the weekend prior, but we didn’t attend.  That’s an evening of “lighting” downtown for the holidays, a parade, bonfire, and cider/hot cocoa at the visitors center.  Maybe next year! 

Lights at the lake 1

Trees in the park at the visitors center

Lights at the lake 2

Lights at the lake 3

Lights at the lake 4

It was really breezy that night, so the trees were swaying – interesting effect with the lights.

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Hey!  Look!  Now I just need some snow!  And figure out how to lace my boots to ‘em!

Car wash 12012017

Gotta get the car washed frequently up here with all the snow and salt.

Doggie sweaters 12012017

Bought some sweaters which will be donated to our local shelter.

Ciao for now!

Thanks for stopping by!  Ya’ll be safe out there, okay?







Saturday, November 4, 2017

Mother Nature Enters Reboot Mode


Front porch view 11042017

Our view from the porch until April.

So.  Here we are.  It’s early November and this is what our world looks like.  We’re anticipating that the view won’t change hardly at all until April. 

Mother Nature has entered reboot mode.

It gets so cold here that Mother Nature literally reboots herself.  It’s like the slate is wiped clean with the subzero cold and snow, ready to start over again with the arrival of Spring.   I dig that idea. 

This is one of the many reasons we decided to return to northern Minnesota.  No, we don’t ski or snowmobile.  We don’t ice skate or ice fish.  Dave doesn’t put knobby tires on the bikes and continue cycling. I may  take a shot at snowshoeing at some point, but that remains to be seen.  That doesn’t mean we’ll be housebound for months.  Dave has a short walk to work.  I can still walk when feasible, i.e., not blowing a gale (literally) and conditions outdoors are tolerable.  One still gets out and about with errands or whatever, but I do try to schedule my outings to days when it’s not actively storming.  The main reason for that is it’s just less messy with bringing in groceries and the like when it’s not actively snowing.

Not only does one still need to run these types of errands, but you really do need to get out  during Winter.  It would be too easy to sit indoors and become a total hermit.  Even if it’s just a stroll around the parking lot a few times, get out and acclimate, embrace the environment.

I’ve been known to fire up the outdoor grill during snowfall when we lived in Hibbing years ago.  Almost surreal, that.

Towns up here are equipped for harsh (yes, I used the term “harsh”  ) Winters.  Snowplows are of the “we ain’t kiddin’ around” variety, with plows on both the front and side.  

Betty in snow 02132014

When we were on-site security in New Jersey – February 2014.  That’s me clearing a path. What amazing times those were.  What adventures.  What memories!  We’ve done stuff, ya know?

A year ago, we were in Texas probably sweltering in the 80-degree November weather, occasionally commenting that we wondered if we’d ever see snow again.  Perhaps that’s when our idea of returning to Minnesota at some point began to emerge.

So here we are.  Momma Nature is in reboot mode.  We have it easy compared to the photo above.  Living in a 55+ community, management clears sidewalks and parking lot.  We don’t have to buy propane to fuel the furnace in our townhome.  Dave doesn’t have to get on the roof to clear snow.  Makes a difference!

Experienced my first Face Time chat a couple of days ago, connecting with a dear girlfriend from college days.  We visit via phone now then, but the addition of video to our “yap session” was such a joy!  We carried on like a couple of … college gals … and it was such fun!  Of course, visiting with her always does my soul good, but this was just about over the top fun.  We’ll be doing that more frequently in the future.

Life percolates along smoothly, and I am very grateful for that.  Seems like I have a lot to be grateful for these days. 

Better water the plants, then get geared up for another work day.  Yes, working from home is another thing I’m grateful for every  day.

Thanks for stopping by!  Stay safe out there, okay?





Monday, October 30, 2017

First Winter Snowfall …

… and it was a doozy! 

Folks are referring to it as a blizzard.  Snow accumulation wasn’t spectacular, but let me tell you – it was pretty darn wild Thursday afternoon and overnight into Friday.  I haven’t seen horizontal snowfall since our time in New Jersey a few years ago when we were still full-time RVers.  Winds here were absolutely howling; think snow hurricane!  A local used the term “blizzarding” to describe what was happening.  Didn’t know that was a verb … ha!

Blizzard 10262017

View from my home office Thursday afternoon before the winds really picked up.

Baby and Maggie

Maggie on the left.  Baby on the right.  They’re waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge.

October 25 marked the first anniversary of the passing of our beloved Maggie.  You can read the post – Our Maggie - from last year about our Wee Widget.  I miss her every single day.  She and Baby both loved snow; Baby was with us when we lived in Hibbing.  I know they’d be having great frolics outside these days!

Although it was 28F out this afternoon, it wasn’t snowing and the winds had abated, so I ventured out for a walk. Layered clothing is “the thing” up here, so I was quite snug.

Thirsty Moose hoodie 10282017

  Thirsty Moose cozy hoodie

We lived in Hibbing, MN (about 100 miles east of here) from 2005 to 2007, and enjoyed burgers and pizza at the Thirsty Moose.  During one of our visits, I picked up the hoodie in the photo.  It’s really, really warm.  I wore it a few times around campfires we’d have in NJ, but the only other place it’s been cold enough for it is … you guessed it … northern Minnesota!  Wore it during my walk today and I certainly was cozy.  My comfy hoodie has come full circle, being back in northern MN again.

We have snow of some degree and intensity the next couple of days, with a break on Tuesday, and then it kicks in again.  I also learned this past week that we are apparently living in Blizzard Alley.  You’ve heard of Tornado Alley?  Well … same thing, only blizzards instead of tornadoes.  I’m okay with that.  Lived in Tornado Alley for a while, and I’m content here, thank you!

“Pssst … Momma Nature … it’s October, not January!”  Another local mentioned that we’ve gone from October straight to January.  Hmmm … what happened to November and December?!  Well, I’ll still take the occasional snowstorm over December 90-degree days in Texas any day.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is looking pretty good right now, with sunny skies and a high around 31F.  Did major grocery shopping yesterday, so just have a couple of errands to run.  Today (Monday), we’re back to sideways-blowing snow!  I have to say, the management here did a fine job of clearing the parking lot and sidewalks.  Sweet.

Tuesday is also Halloween, and we’ll be off.  That hasn’t happened in a few years, and we’re looking forward to ordering pizza and watching some appropriate movies.

So it’s now our Friday – a couple of days have passed since I started this post – and we’re looking forward to our usual Tuesday/Wednesday weekend! 

Thanks for stopping by!  Stay safe out there, okay?

 













Saturday, October 21, 2017

Another Month Flew By!

Office view 10142017

Evening view from my office

October is just about on its way out the door and the number of daylight hours are dwindling.  Before you know it, Christmas will be rolling in!  So will the snow!

With that in mind, I took our car in for a coolant flush and replacement with “the good stuff” for subzero temperatures.  In visiting with them about prep and maintenance of our Edge during the really cold weather, one of the techs at the dealership told me about a solar-powered trickle charger for the battery.  Newer cars don’t come equipped with block heaters, and the general thought is that the newer models don’t really need them.  Since it looks like we won’t have a garage any time soon, I’ll pick up one of the solar chargers.  Turns out my uncle in Hibbing used one, so that convinced me!

Dave has been taking advantage of the surprisingly mild weather lately to rack up the bike miles.  He doesn’t have to be at work until 2 PM, which allows time for shorter rides during the work week.  Days off see him getting in 40+ miles lately.  I’m tickled he’s enjoying the cycling up here.

A bit after 2 PM now, and it’s so gloomy out that the parking lot lights next door are on.  It’s in the mid 60’s, which is probably the last of the mild days we’ve been having lately.  Not that it’s going to plummet drastically starting tomorrow, but we’ll be getting more seasonable weather.  Cooler weather.

Lake 1 10182017

Went out to the lake last Wednesday while out running errands.  Looks gloomy that day, too, doesn’t it?

LAke 2 10182017

Looking back towards Bemidji State University.

Lake 3 10182017

Geese and gulls hanging out.  That building on the left is the old Carnegie Library.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and there’s a project in the works to restore it.

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Inside the visitors center down at the lake.

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Entrance to downtown Bemidji from the lake park.  That arch is a new addition this summer.

We have a new addition to our home …

Fireplace dark

Electric fireplace heater!

Our RV had a built-in fireplace/electric heater.  We used it a lot, especially those years in New Jersey.  It helped keep the rig warm, reduced the use of the propane furnace and, well, it just looked nice.  We enjoyed the ambiance of the simulated flames.  Although we have gas in-floor central heat here, the living room is a larger area with no carpeting.  This will help keep that area a bit cozier, reduce the use of the furnace (right, who am I kidding when it’s –30 F out?) or at least help us keep the furnace thermostat turned down a bit.  And, again, it gives a cozy feeling to the space.  Tested it on some chilly days.  It has a thermostat and timer, so running it for an hour 2 or 3 times during the day kept the living room cozy, indeed!

Halloween falls on our days off this year, so we may just have a scary movie marathon!  We haven’t been off on that holiday in years.

Speaking of being off from work, we will have 4 days off at Christmas this year!  Woot!  Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the 2 days following.  That hasn’t happened since 2013, while in Jersey.  I’m really, really looking forward to Christmas and decorating our new home.  We have some decorations we used in the RV, but this year we are talking about getting a slightly larger tree – going from 1 foot to about 4 feet.  Ha!  Although I’ve never gone overboard decorating my homes, we’ll probably add a few things here and there to supplement what decorations we already have from our full-timing days.  There’s a good chance we’ll have a white Christmas, too!  Yay!  We both love Christmas.  It’s such a magical time.  It’ll be nice to have a few days to relax and enjoy it.

Well, it is a work day, so I’d best wrap this up and earn some money!  Still enjoying my telecommuting job as an administrative assistant, and grateful for that opportunity. 

Until next time …

Thanks for stopping by!  Stay safe out there, okay?

 















Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Autumn Is Coming. But Wait …

Autumn here in northern Minnesota is definitely making its presence known.  Well, except for today and tomorrow with highs in the upper 80s.  Even at that, it has been a stunningly gorgeous day out.  One evening a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a touch of Autumn in the air.  You know … that feeling that’s hard to describe.  Is it a change in humidity?  A slightly different scent to the air?  Not sure.  All I know is that it is a feeling, and it was there.  Sure enough, since then our weather has definitely been trending towards Autumn.  Except today and tomorrow but, even so, the warm temps have a different feel to them.  Mr. Sun comes to us from a slightly different angle these days, too.  Ran the A/C for a wee while at one point this afternoon, but other than that … we rarely have anything going having to do with temperature control in the house.

Windows open a lot of days lately.  How wonderful is that?

Winter boots in store 09012017

This year’s first spotting of winter-rated gear in Walmart last week.  Yes, those boots are rated for –25F.  Winter’s coming!

Scored my parka since last post, too.  I knew what I wanted – a Columbia parka like the one I had years ago when we lived in Hibbing.  Wasn’t sure I could find one locally and was prepared to order it from Columbia if I couldn’t find one here.  At the very least, I hoped I could find similar Columbia jackets to try on in order to get a feel for sizing. 

We have an L&M Fleet Supply here, so a couple of weeks ago I thought I’d go check them out.  Hadn’t been in one before but … yay!  It’s like Tractor Supply!  Woot!  We really, really enjoyed Tractor Supply up in New Jersey and picked up some quality clothing there, including winter wear.  Although L&M had not officially put out winter gear yet, I noticed a rack of Columbia men’s jackets.  Again, thought I could at least get an idea of sizing. Looking through the rack … wow!  There was the jacket.  Okay, so it’s a man’s jacket, but that’s fine.  It’s the same thing.  Best thing yet?  It was on sale at a price that would be less than if I ordered straight from Columbia.  Tried it on.  Checked it out thoroughly – took out the inner jacket and put it back in (it’s a 3-in-1 – waterproof outer with a removable fleece inner jacket, removable hood, etc.), tried all the zippers and pockets.  That puppy came home with me.  Score!

We also had a bit of celebration recently with the newest member of the Barnes clan making his appearance!  Weighing in at a bit over 8 pounds, Lachlan Joseph came into the world over in London, the first child of my youngest stepson and his wife, and my third step-grandson.  He’s sure a cutie, and we’re looking forward to our first Skype video chat with the new family tomorrow.

Isn’t technology cool?

I kept vigil from afar the past couple of weeks for friends and family first in Texas – specifically the Houston area- during Harvey and then again during Irma’s visit to Florida.   Everyone came through safely, although with some property damage from flooding in Houston. 

Say what you will about Facebook, but it does serve a purpose during times such as Harvey.  I was able to look up a post with rescue extraction phone numbers at 3 AM while on the phone with relatives in Houston in need of leaving their home due to flooding.  They were having no success with 911, but were able to reach someone at one of the Coast Guard numbers and were able to safely leave their home.  So yeah, Facebook and social media has its flaws, but … it can also provide a valuable service.

Cookie jars downtown 08232017

Cookie jars in the window of Raphaels Bakery Café in downtown Bemidji

Can’t say I have anything terribly exciting to report.  Life has been going on to the hum of our usual routine.  We look forward to our “weekends” and are grateful those two days can actually be spent relaxing.

Last Wednesday I spent just about the entire day in the kitchen cooking up Dave’s meals for the coming work week and … I made a cake!

Cake kit 09062017

Spotted this kit at the store and thought I’d give it a whirl.

Dave and I don’t eat a whole lot in general, and a regular-sized cake would just go to waste between the two of us.  This seemed like just the size, so thought I’d try it out.

Cake 09062017

It turned out pretty darn well!  Yes, I still have a plastic cake container(?) – not sure what the correct term is.  It’s not exactly a stand, but it has the cover and is definitely designed for a cake.  Hadn’t used it since the Montana RV rally in Lancaster, PA back in 2012.

Autumn outdoor decorations 09062017

My outdoor Autumn decorations.

I think that about wraps up this post.  My days are full and I rarely have quiet time to simply write.  Oh well.  One of these days …

Until then, Life is Guid, indeed!  We continue to be grateful every day for being up here in the Minnesota Northwoods!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be safe out there, okay?