Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Life has been pretty great up here in the northwest. Work has been busy and rewarding every day, the weekends have been filled with knitting projects and I've put a lot of treadmill miles on the awesome running shoes I got for Christmas. And, there's always a furry creature around to snuggle up with.

But, as far as the blog goes, it's in hibernation. I'm not super motivated to go outside on adventures when the morning air temperature is negative twenty-two.

The blog will probably be back in the spring, hopefully filled with new adventures.

But, in the meantime, here's a little treat for you courtesy of Updraft, which brought this little Lewis Black gem to my attention:

WARNING: This comedy is most definitely not Minnesota Nice, not appropriate for children or those sensitive to swearing.

Stay warm people!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Every Dog is OK

Calhoun hunts. Just in case you didn't know. I am learning about hunting, but mostly I am a suburban kid, without skills or instinct, who has found herself simply trying to keep up with the vocabulary and what is in season this week.

While I can't spot a deer trail or identify bird tracks, I know - when Calhoun comes back during the daylight, only two hours after leaving for hunting, and is white as a ghost when he gets out of the car - I have the instinct to know that something is wrong.

The word I added to my vocabulary today: "snare"

"Vasa was caught in a snare."

I knew Vasa was OK because Calhoun was at the house, not the veterinarian's office. I knew Vasa was OK because there wasn't blood on Calhoun's jacket. I knew that Vasa was OK because Calhoun was walking, not crying.

Vasa is fine. 

When Calhoun was finally ready to tell me what happened Vasa was banging around the kitchen, whacking his pointer tail against the cabinets and getting pets.  Calhoun threw the snare on the table and told me he couldn't figure out how to get it off right away, but that Vasa knew Calhoun was trying to help him.

Vasa held still. 
Vasa did not struggle. 
Vasa did not pull the metal snare tighter around his neck. 
Vasa held still.
Vasa was wearing two collars - that probably stopped the snares from pulling tighter around his neck.
Vasa was only a little over 200 yards away.
Vasa held still.
Vasa was scared.
Vasa laid for minutes in the snow after Calhoun freed him.
Vasa does not have a broken neck.
Vasa held still.

Thank God it wasn't Sogn. Thank God it was not the skijoring dog, who pulls on leashes and restraints like it is his job. In the time it took Calhoun to get to Vasa, Sogn would have killed himself.

Thank God it was Vasa.
Vasa is fine.

There was no more hunting today.

Vasa is fine.
Every dog is OK.
...until he is not.

The Fifteen Foot Christmas Tree

I grew up with artificial trees and I love them.  Through all of our moves I have moved the six foot tree I got my first year after college. I love that tree because I can put it up myself and I have the exact right number of decorations for it and they all fit in one rubbermaid box. Calhoun does not like my artificial tree so much.

Calhoun likes real Christmas trees. So this year, for the second time in my life, we got a real Christmas tree. I asked around at work and was informed that the Rydell National Wildlife Refuge lets people come in one weekend every December to cut Christmas trees, that are not native to the area. We called up Calhoun's parents and made a day of it to go out and get a tree.

It was awesome. We tromped around in the woods and finally picked a few trees that we wanted to bring home with us. Calhoun's parents picked a three foot tall tree top that will be safe for Blueberry when she comes over and we picked out a fifteen foot whopper. We are always trying to make the most of our current situation and this Christmas we decided that means a fifteen foot Christmas tree! Our current rental has an open living room and we wanted to fill it with a tree. So we did.

Calhoun fell the tree with a handsaw and then he and Kenyon dragged it out and tied it to the truck.

That same night we rearranged all the furniture in our living room, and our tree has stood two stories tall all week. 

Then last nigh, we made spiced cider and lit up Rydell National Wildlife Refuge Tree. The season has arrived.  

 p.s. the dogs are totally uninterested, thank goodness!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nordic Heritage Museum #9

I began teaching myself how to knit a few years ago. I never made it to a knitting class, instead I watched some online tutorials and invested in knitting books. I bought a few basics books to help me understand how stitches worked and how to solve problems and a few books with pattersn. When we move my knitting books take up a box!

I have come to love knitting. It's a craft that allows me to pick colors and patterns, but that ultimately involves counting and math and straight lines (not that I'm particularly good at math, but I can count). I have had to be a little creative with the patterns because typically I'm not knitting with the yarn that is recommended by the pattern. Although there is a knitting shop here in Red Lake Falls, it's only open twice a week and has limited hours. And, I am not familiar enough with yarns to be able to confidently buy online. So, once I have some yarn I try to make it work with whatever project fits my whim!

One of the books I've knitted from is Selbuvotter, Biography of a Knitting Tradition. I love this book, it has a lot of history and beautiful patterns. The author, Terri Shea, studied samples of Selbu mittens from private collections and museums and provides patterns, instructions, and stories.

Unfortunately for me, the pattens are crafted with specific yarns - which I don't have. I knit my very first pair of selbu mittens for Calhoun last winter, but they did not fit very well. They are the size of pancakes.

So, I tried again this winter. I did some actual measuring with the yarn I had on hand and successfully knit some mittens that fit! I took my inspiration from her pattern that was created from a sample in the Nordic Heritage Museum, Pattern #9.  I cut the pattern down to fifty stitches around instead of 72, I made it shorter in the hand and messed with the thumbs.

I finally finished and wore them and they are AWESOME! I feel like I have finally gotten a hang of this whole 'knitting Selbu mittens' thing!

Then I stopped by The Yarnery while we were in the cities for Thanksgiving and they didn't have the yarn I knew I needed. I bought something different. Looks like the next Selbu mitten project will be another test of my creativity, I can't wait to get started!

Happy Holidays from Sogn and Vasa

The holidays means photographs for the annual holiday card! I glanced at an article a few days ago about the stress of trying to create a perfect holiday card and I could kinda of understand the stress. I definitely believe we work too hard to present perfect images of our lives to the outside (yes - I realize the irony of this statement coming from a blog writer who uses pseudonyms and cuts herself out of all photographs), but as we attempted to wrangle the pack and smile at the camera I could appreciate the stress of wrangling young children into a perfect holiday picture.

So, here are the puppy out-takes (the people out-takes are so terrible they are not suitable for the blog):

 poor hunting dogs, their noses are working overtime

this was just distraction 

Vasa tends to look like a crazy

p.s. photos taken by Red and Swan who made the drive to visit us a few weekends ago! YAY FOR FRIENDS!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Red Lake Falls

The past few weeks have felt very busy - it's a lot of work to settle in to a new house!

We've been in the new place, here in RLF, for about three weeks. It's amazing how fast a new place can feel like home. I can't overstate how wonderful it is to have our couch out of storage, our books on the shelf and our dogs sleeping on the carpet in our own house.

Today, Calhoun took Vasa for a mid-afternoon grocery trip (hunting then a stop at the local grocery store) and Sogn and I went for a walk. RLF has a bike-path that goes through town so we went for a stroll to check out the neighborhood.

Sogn, not afraid of the bridge

It was sunny and beautiful and even though Sogn has been a country dog for a long time now and hasn't been on very many leash-walks lately he did a great job. He even posed (kinda) for a picture! RLF is a cool town, it is a little east and north of the flat flat plains of the Lake Agassiz/Red River Valley and sits high above the bank of the Red Lake River. What that means is that this small town, in northwest Minnesota, does not flood and isn't flat. It makes for some pretty cool views from old train bridges.

Our walk this afternoon was also one of the only times in the past few weeks that Sogn has been without his new companion, Vasa. Mostly they are getting along pretty well. As well as any two creatures can who are incredibly curious about one another and what each other is doing and simultaneously very apprehensive of the other. It's kinda cute but I do think that Sogn sometimes misses his alone time. So, we had quality time together this afternoon and each of them did very well without the other.

When Calhoun and Vasa came home they had groceries and a sharp-tail grouse. Sharp-tail grouse are pretty unique to this corner of northwest Minnesota and we haven't eaten much of it in the past. So, Calhoun took to his favorite game cooking blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, and found an incredible recipe for Maple Bourbon Sauce. Calhoun was also inspired by some recipes he saw on Upland Journal that called for a "trencher" - a piece of fried bread that is used to soak up sauces and juices from your meal.

Luckily, we had a loaf of Calhoun's homemade peasant wheat bread to use as the base of our meal. He fried that up, topped it with caramelized onions and fried bacon, rare slices of sharp-tail and topped it with the Maple Bourbon Sauce. It was incredible and has made us more excited about eating sharp-tail and the recipes we will get to try as the season goes on.

dinner, a la Calhoun

All in all it has been a great weekend here in RLF, we really are feeling like this place is home and we enjoyed this beautiful, sunny Sunday.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I Shot a Handgun

I shot a handgun last week for the first time.

To be honest, I've always been a little afraid of guns. I grew up in the suburbs and have never been around guns and haven't had a lot of education about how they work. I had never seen a gun in person until I met Calhoun and came up north to his house for the first time.

Calhoun grew up here in northwest Minnesota and has hunted since he was a kid. When we first moved in together he moved in a few hunting rifles right along with all of his other stuff. Over the years, he's educated me about his shotguns and the various kinds of birdshot stored in our house. I've had the opportunity to shoot his shotgun, a rifle, and even a muzzleloader - but never a handgun. To me, hunting guns and handguns are different and I've never had reason, or an opportunity, to shoot a handgun.

But then I got this new job.  I have contact with law enforcement and I read reports that sometimes mention guns. I decided it was time to learn about handguns and once I started voicing an interest in shooting one I found that I had an opportunity to go to the range and shoot.

It was kinda cool. It was interesting to learn about the machine and how it works. I was also very impressed by the people around me who knew so much about guns. I often forget that a lot of people up here have a firearms endorsements and have grown up with guns. Most people get their firearms endorsement as soon as they can when they're kids, which means that they get them when they're twelve. That's a lot of years of experience and familiarity with firearms, and it shows.

I'm still not sure how I feel about handguns. I did like shooting the gun at the target on the range, and I actually did pretty well. But, I don't own a handgun and it's not on the list of northern Minnesota things to acquire. But, it was a cool thing to do and I'm glad I went and shot a handgun.