Rural Life in the UP of Michigan Some stories about life on 160 rural acres in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

January 22, 2023


Filed under: Uncategorized — admin0 @ 10:24 pm

What does a Bomb Cyclone have to do with plywood? Read on.

In December of last year, we experienced a weather event that I’d not heard of, called a bomb cyclone. What it meant for us was a lot of snow and wind. The event lasted for several days. You’d have your driveway looking pretty good one day, and the next morning it was worse than it was before you’d started. It was cold, windy, and the visibility was poor. The woodstoves were hungry.

My woodpiles are west of the house near the garage/workshop. The woodracks I use for the house’s heating fires are all the way around on the east side. I’d carry the wood in my arms from the outdoor woodpiles to the woodracks. I’ve done it this way for years.

The bomb cyclone dropped so much snow on us that I had to slog through the drifts with armloads firewood. After a couple of trips, my 70 year old body cried uncle. I needed more wood to make it through the night however. I came up with a short term solution. I’d carry the firewood to the much closer west entry of the house and pile it on the table. This solution got us through the worst of the weather, but I found that it worked really well. I could make firewood trips twice as fast with minimal drift-slogging. So I adopted the strategy longer term.

Alas, the table in the west entryway of our home had other uses, so my new firewood storage system was causing some tension. I started looking for a better solution, and came up with an idea. We had a small dresser in the west entryway that we used for storing hats, gloves, scarfs, and other odds and ends. The entryway also has a closet for keeping coats, boots and jackets. The closet has a high shelf above the coat rack. I proposed buying some small sturdy totes for the contents of the dresser. These we’d keep on the closet shelf, and replace the dresser with a woodrack. Amazingly, my plan was approved.

A trip to the Habitat Restore ™ and the dresser was gone. I decided to build the woodrack out of 1/2″ plywood, so on the same trip, I stopped by the lumber company and told the clerk I wanted 2 sheets of 1/2″ AC plywood.

“AC?” she asked, looking puzzled.

“Yes,” I answered, somewhat surprised by the question.

“$120,” she said.

“Yikes!,” I thought, as I handed over my credit card. Even the guys that loaded me up seemed impressed by the choice I’d made.

Before cutting, I left the plywood sheets in the workshop for some extra time in order to build up my courage. You can bet I measured twice before I cut once when it came time to process the plywood.

It took me part of 3 days to finish the woodwork, and as of this writing, I’m about to apply the finish. Then I can move it to its new home and fill it up with firewood.

4 shiny Craftsman ™ totes line the shelf in the closet, and they are filled with the hats and gloves that previously lived in the dresser. I do have a few scraps of plywood left over, but I did pretty much use up the whole two sheets on the project. So if anyone asks you what $120 worth of plywood looks like, this is it.

January 19, 2023

Firewood & Gardens

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin0 @ 8:31 pm

My news feed serves up lots of articles about health. How to eat, how to think, how much to exercise, etc. The exercise genre has been especially active lately, with lots of studies showing the benefits of keeping active. Long ago, the experts suggested that strenuous exercise needed to be counted in hours per week to be effective. Then research began to show that less strenuous exercise could be helpful in shorter bursts. Then less strenuous exercise for even a few minutes a day worked as long as it added up some hours per week. We’ve evolved from jogging to walking. I’m wondering if the next piece I read will suggest putting the Doritos ™ on a higher shelf, and doing a few reps with the bag before devouring it.

Like many people, I own a recliner chair, and it is one of my prize possessions. The only time the recliner and I interact is when I’m taking a break, and having that relationship with an inanimate object means we’ve grown close over the years. When the leg rest goes up, the stress level goes down, and we become one with the universe. Sitting in my chair, I wondered why so many of us seemed to need to have a health scare before being willing to exercise regularly.

Even though I’m a believer in exercise, without the right motivation, I think the recliner and I might just melt into one lump. I credit our habits of heating with wood and growing much of our own food with this motivation. First thing on a winter morning, I get between 1 and 3 fires going depending on the outside temperature. This involves carrying chunks of firewood here and there; getting exercise. Firewood racks need to be filled when they get low, forcing me outside while the recliner softly calls my name from the next room. The fires need to be tended throughout the day. During the summer, I’m often out in the woods with chainsaw and bulldozer working on the next year’s woodpile. Many calories are consumed by our decision to heat mostly with wood.

Likewise the gardens. It can be hot outside, and nice and cool in the recliner. But there are chores, especially in our greenhouse garden. So I hoist my carcass upright, don my watering yoke, and haul bucket after bucket from the pond to the garden. “Thank-you” the little carrots say to me. Sometimes I listen to the carrots, but other times I’m hearing recliner sounds.

My philosophy is to just try to keep going, making sure to get the blood moving at least a couple of times a day. Besides the muscles, I try to exercise the old brain too. I make efforts to embrace new experiences, try new foods, meet new people, etc. We humans seem all too prone to relax when the opportunity presents itself, to the detriment of our health. I’m sure there are good evolutionary reasons for slacking, but I’m pretty sure these reasons have developed during times with fewer recliners in our homes. Especially as the decades pile up, along with the aches and pains, the temptation to rest also piles up.

Perhaps if exercising were more like playing the slot machines, we’d all be better at it. In front of a slot machine, when the screen starts whirling the icons around, your heart starts beating in anticipation. Then, you won! Yay! Carrying buckets of water to thirsty carrots just doesn’t seem to pack the same punch. Smart phone developers, how about creating an app that rewards exercise similar to the slot machine rewards. It might be the next killer app.

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