Excuses, Excuses

We are just back from spending several days in beautiful New York Mills, Minnesota (home, for those not in the know, of the New York Mills Philharmonic). Not a vacation, per se, but what might have been a deathbed visit to the remaining grandparent between us. Said grandparent made a rapid turnaround in condition and was improving as we left, so in the end it was not as sad a visit as it might have been.

We stayed at the mythical Whistlestop Inn, a bed and breakfast in a big late Victorian house (1903 or thereabouts) with a few railroad car cottages, as well.

The first night we spent in one of those cars. It was certainly an experience, which might have been vastly improved had either of us been really, really into trains. As it is, we liked the shape of the car just fine, but the overdone Victorian interior was not really our style.

Noel on the floor of the Imperial car

That's the view looking into the sitting area of the car. You see all those windows? Every one of them has a shade that needs to be lowered for privacy at night, but then must be raised for light during the day.

Breakfast was delivered on a rolling cart in a nice basket, and every day we stayed there it was different and well-made. New York Mills is really the middle of nowhere, so nobody was going to be getting too fancy with the breakfast, but that was fine by us.

Bedroom area

My only real gripe about the Imperial is that it has no shower, so I was glad that they moved us to a different room for the rest of our stay. I would also be remiss if I failed to mention that the entire inn, and much of New York Mills, is right next to a railroad with heavy traffic. Not a great location for light sleepers, but neither Noel nor I have ever been accused of that.

I admit to my one spoiled-rotten moment when I ate a strawberry garnishing breakfast and immediately thought of how much better our own always are than any strawberry from the grocery store. Well, duh. Nothing beats a strawberry right off the plant, and certainly it's hard to compare an unripe store berry with a fully ripened berry at the peak of flavour.

Shirtful of strawberries

Anyway, that was our Mother's Day weekend. Now back to the real world, right? The good news for us while we were away was that Gene finished putting drywall up in his kitchen (which he is doing all by himself, making us look lazy and codependent), and now we get to borrow his drywall lift. We rented a lift when we put the drywall on the parlour ceilings, and it made the project possible, in no small part because I got the flu and had a 102-degree fever, so Noel did most of the work himself. Then we felt rushed to get the work done fast in order to save money on the rental. Borrowing tools like that is much less stressful.

Also, I don't plan to get the flu while we fix the dining room ceiling.

Let's see, we had some other stuff we've been doing that is all lined up waiting for free time. Like the side of the metal shed facing the house, where we want to put in the pathway that will be alongside the greenhouse once the greenhouse goes in.

It seems like an easy project, but I've been dithering over pathway materials for, oh, years now. We have decided to just get on the list for a huge pile of free wood chips from a tree trimmer, and use that. It's worked well enough on our other pathways. The path will be a little wider than the area covered by the wood and the ladder here, and of course it will involve removing more grass which inevitably means heavy work in the hot sun. But it would be nice to have a pathway there.

Pathway location

While we were away a box full of PVC fittings to finish the two runs out to the chicken shed was delivered to our doorstep. I spent some time today laying them out and figuring out how I wanted to put together the runs, but it was too sunny for me to get much done. I need to find my sun hat and sunglasses, if this weather is going to continue to be so bright (which it is, though October at least).

Sorting PVC fittings

Also, over the last several months some crazy number of things have come into this house because of other people decluttering. Sort of a professional hazard in my case, since I've been guilty of bringing home things given to me by clients who hire me to help them clear out their stuff. Between that and neighbors selling up, and friends moving, and so forth and so on, we've got quite the pile of things we need to sort through. I spent a nice chunk of time today sorting fasteners. Whee.

Of course, one of the things I brought home was this nice set of drawers from a friend/client of mine, and I want to spend some time cleaning and de-rusting it. I've never refinished metal before, so this should be exciting.

Metal drawer unit

For the rest of the stuff, I'm sorting it into piles of "we always use these, put it in the regular supply," "we use these but already have some, so may not need it," and "we never use these, find somebody else who wants it." I've had mixed luck with donating used tools and home improvement supplies lately, so I'm thinking of having a social event at the house with a tool/supply swap at the same time (you needn't bring anything, but you can't leave anything, either). Anybody up for it?

And one quick update, so this is not just a trip report and some idle speculation on possibly doing some tidying in the future. Noel now has a functioning (if incredibly slow) chicken door.

Installing the new chicken door, again

He made lots of modifications, including changing to a screw drive and swapping out motors and all kinds of software changes to the controller. It's been very exciting. The only issue is that the door moves up and down incredibly slowly, and impractically so. On the other hand, we can now open the chicken door via a web interface from bed, which is a good first step. Now all we need is a robot that will take the dogs out and feed them first thing in the morning and we can sleep all day on weekends, never accomplishing anything. (Any time we appear to have done more than humanly possible on a weekend, you can blame Goldie and her total inability to let us sleep after the sun comes up.)

Door, installed

OK, now to catch up on everything ELSE we're behind on.

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posted by ayse on 05/13/09

4 Comments

Wow, I did NOT see that coming on my houseblogs.net visit... I grew up in New York Mills. Did you at least go to the Bake Shoppe and have some of their amazing donuts?

Still a bit in shock here...

I've heard bits and pieces of your saga over the years, but after digging around your site I'm amazed! And, thankful for the solid MN ground under my foundation. I'm going to take some inspiration from the two of you, only being home a day and already back to your projects. You make me want to go home and strip some trim!

Shane, I would have been more impressed if you STILL lived in NYM. I mean, everybody who is anybody is FROM NYM, but only the elite stay behind.

We didn't have donuts, because we got a biiiiig breakfast from the B&B every morning, and Noel's mom made a ham, which meant that any time anybody needed anything to eat, there was ham to work through.

Just ask our regular readers, Jennifer: we go through some long periods of total inactivity.

Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

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