January Winding Down

Here we are at the tail end of January already.  Seems like the weeks just fly by!  We’re really into Winter now and experienced a “January thaw” a couple of times.  Our world outside has been white since – what? – November.   This morning it snowed for a couple of hours and now the winds have kicked in and powdery snow is blowing. 

Still, it is somewhat amazing to live where everything is white outside for … months.

Questions I Get from Friends in Southern Climes

Are you staying warm?   You betcha, indoors and out.  Structures are built differently here, as is outerwear.  Furnace thermostat is set at 70, and we stay comfortable.  We have appropriate outerwear – parkas, boots and cleats for them when needed on the ice, and warm hats and gloves.

Are you snowed in?    Several friends I’ve talked with ask if we’re buried in snow, snowed in, and so forth.  Nope.  There’s way less than a foot on the ground, maybe 6 inches.  Maybe.  When it does snow up here, the flakes are so fine … think flour falling from the sky and lying on the ground.  Really light and powdery.  Takes a lot  of “flour” to build up to any accumulation of note.  It’s also often just too cold to snow up here.  Technically, that’s not true, but … well … it sort of is, too.   Let’s just say that when it’s –35 F out, you’re probably not going to get snow.

Aren’t you going crazy or getting depressed?   Nope.  Nada.  We did purchase an exercise bike, since Dave’s not cycling and I’m not walking – both outdoor activities.  We’re both very happy to be back Up North and sure glad we made the leap!

Is this it?  Is this where you plan to stay?   Had another friend ask recently if this is “it,” where we plan to be.  Yep.  This is it.  Even if we did move from this specific spot, we’d still stay up here.  No plans – or urge – to relocate.  We have traveled quite a lot, both individually and together.  While I bet there will be road trips around the state and perhaps even out-of-state, I think it’s safe to say we’ve gotten the “hitch itch” out of our systems.  We certainly have no plans to travel back to Scotland.  We’re done flying.

We’ve talked about “escaping” to a cabin for a few days at some point.  Have a campfire again and a wee holiday.  That should be doable at some point in the not too distant future.  We sure won’t have to travel very far, as those types of accommodations are plentiful up here.

You were smart … One friend said we were smart to move “where no one wants to go.”  Yep.  I think so, too.

Sure do like our town and the life we have carved out for ourselves here.  Sometimes on our days off we just hang out at home – like this weekend – and watch the snow fall.  I’ll cook a bit, Dave’s been tinkering with his bikes, we may get in a game of chess later.  Other weekends we explore the town a bit, prowl a bookshop or two, or perhaps take a wee drive.  Of course, when it’s not Winter, we’re out cycling, walking, hanging on the patio, and out-and-about around town.  Or not.  Ha!

Icehouses on Lake Bemidji 01262018

Looking out at ice houses on Lake Bemidji

Snapped the above photo when out running errands last week.  There are usually a bunch of ice houses on the lake, and there was an ice fishing tournament coming up the next weekend.  What’s an ice house?  Check out this dealer’s web page.  Some of them are just about as nice as a regular travel trailer!

Repotted plants 01242018

These two have been growing, so they got new “homes” last weekend.

I still read RV blogs, most of which I started following and/or reading years ago.  One I’ve tapped into recently is Travel with Kevin and Ruth.  They are currently serving as wagon masters for an RV caravan touring Mexico.  There are so many RVers who venture south of the border, some for short visits and others for seasons at a time – or permanently.  I applaud Kevin and Ruth not only for taking on the trip and responsibility, but for telling it like it is!  It certainly sounds like an adventure!

Bemidji was named Best Town in Minnesota for 2017, by Minnesota Monthly.  Not don’t ya’ll all get the idea about moving here!

Well, that’s it for today.  I think I’ve rambled on enough.  I really should keep a notebook handy for the blog ideas that pop into my head at random times.  I’ll try to start doing that …

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

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A First for Me Today

It was a bit warmer today at around 5 F and sunny at times.  We ventured out to L&M Fleet Supply for new headgear for Dave.  He walks to and from work – just under 10 minutes – and could use some new gear truly designed for this climate.  I have taken him in the car when the weather’s been really nasty, but I think he enjoys the walk when it’s doable.

Dave new headgear 01022018

He’s starting to take on the appearance of The Invisible Man just a wee bit, eh?

Our first stop actually was the recycle station not far from home.  We had a couple of boxes to “donate.”  One was from a new ceramic heater.  We use a couple of those in different rooms to supplement the gas floor heat now and then.  The other was from …

Exercise bike 01022018

Half of our living room looks more like a bike shop/workout area.  Ha!  Good thing we aren’t wanting a dining table, as the bikes and this piece of equipment are where a table would be.  Unconventional, but it works for us.

Now that Winter has settled in for real, Dave obviously isn’t getting any bike time on the roads (or anywhere else, for that matter)  and I’m not getting my walking.  We initially talked about joining a gym for the winter months – him for the cycle/spinning equipment and me for walking equipment – but this makes much more sense and is less expensive than a membership.  At least we can keep the blood flowing and retain some sanity during these really cold months.  This way we don’t have to pile on coats and gloves, drive someplace, change into workout gear, use public equipment, pile on coats and gloves again … you get the idea.  Again, it’s waaaay less than a membership would have been for both of us.

After those two errands were done and dusted, we decided to drive down to the lake and take a look.  Ended up at one of the various parks in town, and ended up doing this …

Betty on Lake Bemidji 01022018

Me on Lake Bemidji

Dave on Lake Bemidji 01022018

Dave on the lake.  Note the truck cruising along in the background!

That was my first time to walk on a lake.  Now I can say I’ve done it.  Guess we’re adapting to and embracing living back #UpNorth.

Oh!  Yes, it’s been incredibly cold, even for up here.  Bemidji now has a hashtag – #brrrmidji.  Ha!

So our wee outing today was fun!  It’s so easy to just stay indoors and at home when it’s cold out but, you know what?  Life goes on up here and one just needs to get out and about when it’s safe to do so.  Errands still have to be run, and there’s some silly fun to be had around town and the area during Winter.

This sure as heck beats sweating and being miserable in warmer climes, and we’re happy and grateful that we’re back up in the #MinnesotaNorthwoods #UpNorth and #brrrmidji.

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

Happy Boxing Day

Here we are on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas.  Spent a good chunk of ours getting a jump for a dead car battery and then over to the Ford dealership for a new one. 

Hanging with the dealership doggie 12262017

Dealership doggie has the right idea, soaking up some rays.

This was the original battery, so it was just time for a replacement.  We have complementary road assistance with Ford, and it was prompt and courteous.  Opted for a slightly “bigger” battery than the factory-installed version.  So, our Wee Beastie is happy again.  It, and us, will be happier once we score a garage, but there have been no vacancies, so we remain 3rd on the waiting list.  Since our temperatures are consistently subzero now, the Ford tech recommended running the car about 30 minutes each day when we fall below zero.  I have been running the car for a while, but not every day, and even doing it 30 minutes/day probably wouldn’t have helped the old battery.  It was just time.

So we’re on day 3 of our 4 days off for the Christmas holiday.  Wow.  Christmas Eve I spent making goodies, and snacking was enjoyed instead of a proper meal.  So nice to have a larger kitchen and big oven again, although I did all this in the RV for about 7 years. 

Christmas was the major cooking day, turkey breast and the usual side dishes.  Didn’t do this at Thanksgiving, so made up for it this holiday. 

Christmas tree 12102017

Our tree turned out pretty well, and we’re enjoying feeling festive this year.

Snowshoes with boots 12202017

Figured out the bindings on the snowshoes, but haven’t had a chance to try ‘em out yet.

Visions of snowshoeing, taking walks and other outdoor activities over the holiday have not been made realities, as it’s just too darn cold.  Yes, too cold.  Warnings for dangerous/life-threatening wind chills and really low (even for MN at this time of year) temperatures have kept us inside for the most part.  It’s just 6:30 pm, and the outside temperature is –18F with a wind chill of –33F.  And it was warmer today than yesterday! 

Early morning 12212017

Early morning – December 21, 2017.  We’ve had snowfall just about every day, often for hours or even most of a day, but tiny flakes. None since the temps dropped into the deep freezer, though.  No big storms yet with significant accumulation, but we’ll see what January and February bring.

Oh!  On Christmas Day morning, we had sundogs!  I couldn’t get a decent angle for a photo, but you can read about sundogs here.  Pretty darn awesome.  Just a gift from Mother Nature for enduring the harsh Winter.

Roof workers 12132017

See the 2 specks on the roof peak?  Work has continued on the new cancer center down the street, even in the cold weather.  And snowfall.  And winds.  Gotta admire these guys!

It’s so nice to feel festive again for Christmas, this is the first time since 2013.  Last year really was a nonevent, with only having 1 day off and having lost our wee Maggie in October 2016.  I can’t even recall last Christmas.  We were still in Texas, so I imagine it was warm hot.  This year, however, we are in a much better place – geographically, financially and spiritually.  What a difference 12 months can make!

I do still miss our Maggs and having a doggie around, but did get out to the shelter to donate the dog sweaters.  That helped a bit, and they seemed glad to get the sweaters.  One of these days when I ever have spare time again, I’d like to volunteer my time. 

We sent out Christmas cards again for the first time in a few years and received some.  Certainly isn’t like “the old days” of receiving a lot of cards.  Everything and everyone seem to have transitioned to electronic greetings.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s nice, but there’s just something about Christmas cards.  I miss that.  Received some holiday phone calls, and those were very special.

My annual viewing of White Christmas took place on Christmas Eve; it’s just not Christmas without seeing that movie.  I’ve been watching it at this time of year since childhood.  Tonight It’s a Wonderful Life is on tap, and I’m looking forward to that.  It’s another holiday tradition in our home.

I don’t know that anyone really reads this blog these days.  It’s different now that we’re not full-time RVers.  Its purpose is more of an exercise in recording our life … I just don’t seem to have the creativity to even write … just write … at this point.  Probably because I’m too dang busy living life.  Working, my life with Dave, routine chores/housekeeping/cooking/errands … by the time I think of something to write about, I just don’t have the time or ambition to do so.  Too, it’s easier to toss out a simple post on Facebook vs. putting together a blog post.  I know I’m not the only one experiencing this, but I do miss those evenings of purely … writing.  Oh well. 

If you have made it this far, thank you so much for stopping by! 

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Wherever you are and however you celebrate, I wish you the peace, magic and joy of the season.





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.

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?

 









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.

Visitors center 10182017

Inside the visitors center down at the lake.

Downtown arch 10182017

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?

 

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?