Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Words

With the exception of a quick photo post on New Year's Eve, this is my last blog post of 2013. When considering various topics for my last post, I started thinking about last words.

When Steve left our Calumet house to drive out to the property on Saturday, we kissed each other and expressed our love to each other. His hands were full, so I opened the door for him and he left. I turned to go back inside the house and locked the door behind me. I started to walk away when I had a thought. Oh, I want to do some laundry; the snow is getting really deep outside. I wonder if the area around the dryer vent is clear of snow. I went back to the door and poked my head outside. Steve was in the vehicle and about to leave, but he saw me and rolled down the window. I asked, "Is the dryer vent shoveled out?" He replied, "Yes." OK, back in the house. I walked across the living room and had another thought. I went out to the kitchen, picked up the phone and dialed his cell number. He answered and I heard his sweet voice ask, "Yeesss, did I forget something?" I replied, "No. If one of us died, I didn't want my last words to be, 'Is the dryer vent shoveled out?' " We both laughed, told each other we loved each other again and hung up.

Last words are important. I lost my first husband suddenly, and Steve lost his son, Allen, suddenly. We've talked many times about the importance of our last words to our loved ones and have discussed how grateful we are that our last words to them were expressions of love. It's a habit Steve and I practice whenever we part.

2013 was like most other years. It brought various life events and experiences that were mostly joyful, sometimes sorrowful, painful and occasionally stressful, but the Lord continually reminded us of His presence. Nothing ever takes Him by surprise, and He's proved to us that we can rely on Him through good times and bad. That's why I can end the year with my usual last words: "All is well in the Keweenaw."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Do Over!

Remember when you were kids? You would be playing a game with family or friends and someone's turn didn't go the way they had planned. They would shout, "Do over!" That was their way of begging everyone for grace so they could have another try. Well, I called for a Christmas "Do over!"

Yesterday was Christmas, and I awoke with a major migraine. I immediately took some medication, but I could tell it was going to be one of those headaches that wasn't going anywhere without beating me to a pulp first. No quick fix was in sight. The turkey was in the refrigerator, but that's where it was going to stay. I needed to spend the majority of the day in a horizontal position. Steve was incredibly kind and understanding (as usual) and Mom wasn't upset. She suffers migraines herself, so she knows I needed rest, darkness, and quiet. We all agreed on a "Do over." The meal could wait another day. 

This day started out much better. We all agreed to have our turkey and fixin's around 5:00 or 5:30 today - no pressure. Steve needed to run out to the property to do some more plowing anyway. I had a nice, relaxing morning of recovery and moseyed out to the kitchen around 1:30 to begin the turkey and dressing prep. I pulled the turkey out of the refrigerator and discovered it was frozen, frozen, frozen. Did I say frozen? What?! It has been in the refrigerator since last Friday and it's only 13.91 lbs. (Bah, humbug.) Well, I could do the turkey in cold water in the sink method of thawing, but that was still going to take considerable time. Too bad I didn't check the turkey first thing this morning, right? Do I throw it in the water now and have a really late dinner? I called Mom. I called Steve. We all agreed on another "Do over." The meal will wait one more day. I'll try again tomorrow. And. . . I will check the turkey first thing in the morning! No more do overs! 

I'm so thankful I have such a flexible and understanding family. Despite the unusual events with our meal this year, they both assured me that I didn't "ruin" Christmas. Christmas isn't a meal. It's all about love of family and friends and our Savior's love for us.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Night Before

This morning's snow total = 129", and it's still snowing. 

All is calm; all is bright. All is well in the Keweenaw.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Snow Garland

There's no need to drape garland along our fence, as the Lord does it for us!

I glanced out the window while I was doing some Christmas baking today and noticed the snow garland. Lovely! And more snow on the way! We don't have to dream about a white Christmas up here; it's a reality.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Monday, December 16, 2013

New Blog Feature & Update

OK! We're now up to 105.5" of snow for the season! Can you believe it? 

I have two more photos to show how our "roof drift" looked from inside the house on Saturday. This was the view through the kitchen window.

This was the view through the office window.

Those were the inside shots. Now, are you ready for it? This was the view from outside!

Steve took that shot before he raked the roof on Saturday. We got a lot more snow since then, but the LES looks to calm down quite a bit this week - maybe just 1-3 inches per day until Thursday. Then, it should relax again for the weekend.

NEW BLOG FEATURE ADDED:  I created a "Snowfall Chart" to show the snowfall amounts since we moved here. This is our third winter already! I probably won't update it daily - more likely once or twice a week. You'll be able to compare our current season with the last two seasons. It's also color coded to show the monthly totals.

Look for it in the column at the left under Blog Pages - at the bottom of the list under the Construction Page.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lake. Effect. Snow.

I was waiting for our recent snow event to cease before I wrote this blog. That was futile!

When our local weather guru released his "Seasonal Outlook" back on November 4th, he prefaced it by reminding us that all weather forecasting involves a bit of guesswork. The further out you're trying to forecast, the greater percentage of guesswork is involved. So, "all seasonal forecasts should be taken with a grain of salt or even a bit of humor." That being said, he then went on to "guess" that the first half of our winter will be colder and snowier than usual. After early to mid-February, he thinks we will see less snow than usual. So far, it looks like he's a pretty good guesser! Lake Superior is still a big body of open water right now - water that is warmer than the air temperature. Combine that with cold winds - especially from the north, west or northwest, and we have the perfect recipe for lake effect snow. That's exactly what we're getting - and we're getting LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of it! 

This photo taken by the Portage Bridge webcam on Monday afternoon shows the typical clarity of the view through our windows this month.

On the local news this evening, they said we may be heading for the record books - both with the cold temperatures we've had in December and maybe with snowfall amounts. This scenario is apparently similar to what happened in 1978/79 when the Keweenaw had a record total of 390.4" for the season! 

I'll do my best to report the snowfall totals to you as accurately as possible as the season progresses. We're currently living in Calumet in northern Houghton County. We get more snow in Calumet than south of here where the Houghton County measurement is taken. Therefore, the Houghton County total published on various websites is much lower than what we're actually experiencing. Our property where we're building our new home is just 17 miles from Calumet, but it's in the higher terrain of Keweenaw County close to where the Keweenaw County measurement is taken. That total will normally be higher than what we have in Calumet. The seasonal totals reported through yesterday are:
  • Houghton County = 38"
  • Keweenaw County = 86.5" (58" in December alone!)
See what a huge difference there is? We're probably closer to 70-something inches in Calumet, but Calumet uses the Keweenaw County total on the Calumet website. I guess I don't have a problem with that, as it's a much more accurate reflection of our snow than the Houghton County total. We've already had as much snow as we had by January 19th last winter.

Now, to make things even more complicated, our property is often getting even more snow than Keweenaw County reports, as our property is closer to Lake Superior than where the official measurement is taken. But, when you get right on the big lake (like the towns of Eagle River, Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor), the seasonal snow total goes down. Even though those towns are all in Keweenaw County, they get far less than the total reported by the county. Maybe we should invest in our own snow gauge when we move to the property!

OK, on to some photos. When you look at the downtown Calumet webcam, you might not think we get that much snow. However, the webcam is located on Fifth Street, a one-way street with parking on both sides. It's where most of the small businesses are located, so it's the best kept street in town. The road crews work especially hard to keep it free of snow. The webcam often catches the snow removal work in progress like it did when this shot was snapped in the very early morning hours on Monday.

Don't worry. That snow dribble in the middle of the street that was left behind by the plow was completely removed before the town came to life that day.

This was the view through the kitchen window on Monday morning about an hour before the snow started up again.

Here's a panorama shot of the backyard during a brief lull on Tuesday afternoon.

Here's a panorama from yesterday. 

Yes, the sun was shining (for about 5 minutes), but it was actually still snowing when I took that photo. You can see the dark lake effect snow clouds - more like one gigantic cloud. You can also get a glimpse of the "snow overhang" from the snow on the roof. The next two photos show how the overhang blocks even more of the window today.

Steve may need to rake the roof pretty soon. Here's the snow on the deck through the kitchen window today.

The blob on the right side of the deck in the next shot is the BBQ grill.

(Look back and compare that photo to the one I took on Monday morning!) Next, two more photos showing the snow overhang through the kitchen window today.

It's not difficult to get into the Christmas spirit around here!

All is well in the Keweenaw. Really!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

An Inconvenient Truth

You know how it is. The coat you purchased yesterday went on sale today. The garbage truck comes early on the day you oversleep. You rush out of the bathroom to answer the phone only to find out that it's a telemarketing call. OR. . . you notice that your furnace has stopped running because your house is feeling a bit chilly - at 8:00 on a Friday night - when it's 12° outside and getting colder - in the middle of a blizzard - and your husband is planning to stay out in the woods for another 24 hours. Yep. Inconvenient and true. 

You quickly weigh your options. The thermostat reads 64° and you own a heated mattress pad, so the situation isn't desperate. However, you decide that it's probably best to call your husband. The Lord is good. Your framing contractor, Ron, is in Houghton. He's also licensed in plumbing and heating. Yes, he can stop by on his way home, but it will be about 1-1/2 hours. No problem. He comes and lights the pilot light on the furnace. It takes 2 tries before it wants to stay on. He cranks up the thermostat and decides to run home to get a thermal coupler (a.k.a. thermocouple). By the time Ron returns, it's 11:30 p.m. (Did I mention there's a blizzard outside?) Hmmmm. The furnace is still running just fine when he returns. Maybe it was some sort of weird downdraft that knocked out the pilot light. It is windy (blizzard again). He hates to install the new part if it was just a downdraft, so he says to get the house nice and toasty and see if the furnace continues to run through the night. You like to follow instructions, so you get the temp up to 72°. You turn the thermostat back down to 68° and get some shut-eye. 

Before you know it, it's morning and the phone is ringing. It's your hubby calling to see if you have frostbite. You're not yet fully awake, but you head out to the living room to check the thermostat. You notice that it "feels" colder than 68°. Yep. It's down to 63°. Guess you need that new part after all. Ron returns. Thermal coupler installed. House toasty again. End of story.

The Lake Effect Snow Machine is really working overtime. Here's a webcam shot of the bridge between Houghton and Hancock today. 

That webcam is located indoors and takes very clear photos. The haziness is caused by the snow in the air. Here's a photo from the downtown Calumet webcam from a few minutes ago.

That camera is located outdoors. It's getting deep out there, folks. I should have some pretty impressive snow totals to share with you on Monday. Stay tuned!

All is well (and warm) in the Keweenaw.

P.S. I forgot to mention - Ron came out late at night in another blizzard 2 years ago when the "brains" of our furnace decided to die. What a good guy!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Honey and Other Sweet Things

Friends from downstate, Marty and Donna Bonner, were visiting here in the Keweenaw the weekend before Thanksgiving. They brought us more of their honey from "Marty's Bee Farm." I finally opened it yesterday morning and slathered some of it on my toasted homemade bread. Wow! They weren't kidding! That's some spectacular honey! (In fact, I'm going to make this a short post, so I can get out to the kitchen for some toast and honey this morning, too!)

They also brought us two Christmas mugs. Donna and Marty were with us in Copper Harbor in July when I was looking for a new coffee mug, so they obviously remembered I like a BIG mug.

Not only does this mug have a nice message, it also holds a substantial amount of coffee. I brewed enough coffee to reach the coffee maker's 4-cup level the other morning when Steve was out hunting. After filling the mug, there was only a tiny bit left in the pot! (Yes, Marty, it was girlie coffee.) 

We had the opportunity to go to a restaurant we've been wanting to try on Friday night when they took us out to dinner. After that, we thought the gift giving was done. Wrong. They showed up the next day with this:

It's a very large poinsettia - much nicer than one we would buy for ourselves - really beautiful. The photos don't do it justice.

They still weren't finished, however. Marty and Donna also bought our dinner on Sunday afternoon. We felt very spoiled by the sweet gifts from our sweet friends the entire weekend. (You guys can come back anytime!)

On an entirely different subject: We have the potential for some REALLY BIG snows over the next 10 days. I'll keep you posted!

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sunshine and Crockpot Turkey

We had some beautiful sunshine on Thanksgiving Day. I happened to look out the kitchen window, and Cocoa was sitting next to the birch tree with her head tilted up toward the sun. It was so cute that I had to get the camera. Of course, she saw me move, so she moved before I snapped the photo.

My mom was coming for dinner that day, and I decided on a turkey breast instead of an entire turkey for the three of us. If you've never made a turkey breast in a crockpot, don't be afraid. I've done a boneless turkey breast this way before, but I used a bone-in turkey breast this time. It was almost 8 lbs., but I have a large crockpot. 

I put it in the crockpot on HIGH with salt/pepper, chopped onion, a stalk of celery, 1/4 cup chicken broth and a can of cranberries. I started it cavity-side up and flipped it to breast-side up halfway through the cooking time. You can see the cranberries in the cavity in this shot.

When the turkey was finished, I was so involved in getting everything on the table that I never thought to take more photos! A turkey breast made this way doesn't have the crispy skin of a basted turkey made in the oven. It's more like making a turkey in an oven bag. Not crispy, but very, very moist. Anyway, we had a great day with a nice meal and some belly laughs with my mother that evening. If all goes as planned, we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving in our new house next year, and Mom will be living in this house in Calumet. What an exciting thought!

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's Baaaack!

Winter arrived over the weekend with snow and frigid temperatures. Here's the view through our windows here in Calumet today.

The sun and blue sky came out a few minutes ago and it looks just lovely. I think the Lord must sprinkle a bit of glitter into our Keweenaw snow.

Let's see. . . what else is happening? (1) We're still waiting on our new windows. No rush there, as we're all happy for a break in construction - especially during deer season. Even the window factory in Wisconsin is working with a skeleton crew. (2) We had friends from downstate (Marty and Donna) visit the area over the weekend, and that was tons of fun. We always have a great time with them. (3) Steve is in the woods - waiting for some venison to walk in front of him! (4) Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I'm working on parts of that meal today. We're having my mom over for a nice meal, and her granddog, Cocoa, will be very excited to see her again. 

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

'Tis the Season

I knew what I was in for when I married a. . .

This is Steve's motto:

So. . .

because. . .

No problem. We need more venison in the freezer! Love you, honey!

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Reflections

Calumet Waterworks Park - Lake Superior Shoreline
All is well in the Keweenaw.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mommie Dearest

After the book by that title (about Joan Crawford) was published in the 70's, my mother jokingly gave herself that title. Even now, she still sometimes signs her name that way on cards, etc. She was (and is) a dear mother, but definitely not a "mommie dearest" like that abusive Joan Crawford.

Happy Birthday!

All is well in the Keweenaw.