Friday, December 2, 2022

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

 Love, love, love this time of year. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Barb has been busy decorating the house for the holidays with all things Christmas. 

With all the money we have been putting into the house the past month, we decided that we were going to try and find out our own Christmas tree somewhere out in the National Forest. You are allowed to cut one with a permit. We spent a few hours wandering some likely spots but did not find any worthy candidates. All the trees in our area are long needled ponderosa pine with branches that are 2+' long and basically go straight up, making them challenging for a Christmas tree. 

There are other locations in the hills that have spruce, but they are further north, and we have no idea where to go look. I guess we should have done some homework. Next year we will scout out a few locations beforehand and be better prepared. 

So, Barb went off to Rapid City in search of a tree. She came home with this beauty which she already decorated. Trees seem crazy expensive this year, but she was able to pick this one up for $80, plus she had $35 in gift cards bring it down to a reasonable price. Most of the trees over 8' were almost $200!

She has other decorations up throughout the house as well, making the place quite festive!

Pandora plays Christmas music in the background as we work in the house and garage throughout the day. Our favorites are the classics; Gene Autry, Burl Ives, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Nate King Cole and the like. There are a handful of more recent songs that we like but it saddens me to think that with each passing generation these classics will be fading into history. 

This time more than any, I reflect on my childhood, growing up with my brothers and sisters and my parents. My parents had their hands full with 7 kids, several of us giving them challenges along the way but overall I have nothing but fond memories of my childhood. Christmas memories include treading popcorn on string, making a chain of rings out of construction paper, making snowflakes out of folded paper and an ungodly amount of tinsel on our tree.  Great memories....

This was also the first opportunity for us to hang some of our recently acquired tree ornaments from our Great Summer Adventure. We try to find ornaments that bring back special memories of our trips. 
                             Painted Sand Dollars from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia
Glass Float Ball from Prince Edward Island
Then there are the very special ornaments, the first two are over 30 years old. 

In the spirit of fully embracing the holidays, we have been watching our share of Hallmark movies. Almost one a day, at the end of the day while we unwind. Since we have seen all the one from previous years, we have been trying to stick to ones from this year. There is a noticeable difference in the increase of 'wokeness' when compared to years past. Most are not bad, but others are just over the top this year. If you want to see for yourself, watch Christmas at the Golden Dragon. Still entertaining but you cannot help but notice the forces story plot. 

Our other big news for the week is that the interior of the workshop is done! Well, I still have some finishing touches to do like installing a heater and getting some more stainless-steel tables, but I am really happy with how it turned out. 

Next up will be the exterior. This is how it looks now.

Thursday, Barb and I spent the entire day cleaning the garage. With the colder weather, the garage has become our main work area and as you can imagine it becomes quite a mess. Although not perfect, it is a heck of a lot cleaner than it has been in quite a long time. 

The girls spent the day out there with us helping us cleaning. We were all exhausted at the end of the day. The girls were so exhausted they could not even drag the whole bodies on their beds.

They do get out for their walks, Dakota's favorite time of the day. She runs from brush pile to brush pile looking for that Rascally Rabbit. She usually finds one which she chases for about 50' before she loses sight of it. Zoey on the other hand likes to show off her bone to anyone who shows the slightest interest. 
That's it from the Nelson household this week. Time to get back to it, so much work to do!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, I did it again. It wasn't the first time, and I am certain it won't be the last.  I don' know what I was thinking but when I realized what I did, I apologized to Barb immediately. I gave her a big hug and told her how sorry I was. 

What unthinkable act did I do? Did I leave the toilet seat up again? Or worse yet, did I drink the last beer?  To be honest, I rarely put the toilet seat up in the first place and we don't even like the same beer, so it wasn't either of those. But when Barb said came out of the bedroom yesterday and said, "I am mad at you", I knew I was in trouble. "What did I do?", I asked. "You were mean to me in my dream". This is not the first time I have done this, and it certainly will not be the last. I realized long ago that the best thing for me to do is to tell her I am sorry and give her the aforementioned hug.  Otherwise, there is no breakfast for Jim. 

Whew, dodged that bullet! 

With Christmas fast approaching I have been busy buying Christmas presents for Barb. For the first time ever, I am not panic shopping a day or two before Christmas. Not only is this saving me a lot of stress, but it is also saving me a lot of money. Whenever I panic shop, I tend to spend way too much and buy items she does not really want. I still spent more than I probably should have but she is really going to like her gifts this year!

I deer hunted almost every day this past week, watching the deer antics in the woods. This is mating season for deer so both the does and the bucks are going through their mating rituals. Sitting there watching them I could not help but notice the similarities between deer and humans the way the does dance around and tease the bucks and how the bucks walk around, like these two, acting all macho, puffing up and strutting around trying to impress the does. 

The bucks are constantly fighting each other to establish dominance. Some of these fights get pretty rough resulting in injury and even death. Like this guy who is such a hard fighter that he has broken off several tines on his antlers. 


Other fights are more playful like these two. It reminded me of the scene from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer where his nose cap fell off. 
And as many of you know the bucks will rub their antlers on trees to mark their territory. This does two things. It is a visual warning for other bucks to stay out of the area and it is also a scent indicator as bucks leave their scent on the tree so other bucks know who is in the area. 

The antlers of each buck are like fingerprints, no two are alike, varying in size, formation and color. Here are a few pictures of bucks I saw this week.
A little 6-point                                                         A nice 9-point

                          A tall 7-point                                     This guy is just growing his 7th and 8th points

A small spike

They don't get much smaller than this guy on the right

Then there was this big guy who is the boss of the woods. He was chasing a doe, got tired and laid down right in front of me!

I did manage to fill the freezer this week by harvesting a really nice buck. That picture is the last one in this post so those who want to skip it can do so. I just love sitting out in the woods!

Workwise, Barb and I continued to construct the workshop. It is probably 1/2 way done with all the lights in, insulation done and the OSB installed on the walls. One of the functions of this room will be for processing deer, I was able to put it to use this week!


Next up is steel siding on the walls and ceiling, then finish the electrical and the exterior siding. 

Being Thanksgiving, we wanted to wish everyone a...
 Happy Thanksgiving! 
We have so much to be thankful for; our health, our happiness, our family, our friends..... the list goes on.

Thanks to everyone who sent their email addresses to be added to our email list. It seems to be working just fine for those who were added but I did find another limitation. Blogger limits us to 10 people on our email list, so I added the first 10 people who responded. The other ones were denied by blogger. Ugh!

And finally, here is the picture of the deer I harvest this week. It is bittersweet, I am happy to have harvest such a nice buck and have the freezer full, but sad all at the same time. That is just part of the whole hunting process. 

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Living East Coast Style!

 What is living East Coast Style you ask? Some might think it is talking with a New York or Boston or Philly accent while ordering a cheese steak, clam chowder or perhaps a lobster roll. Others might think it is walking the beaches and boardwalk in Jersey or OBX. (For those of you non-east coasters, OBX is the Outer Banks). Well, it is none of those, living east coast in our house means waking up at 4am and going to bed at 8pm. Apparently, our bodies are on east coast time, at least if we lived there, we would be waking up at 6 and going to bed at 10! But no, for the past week or more, here we are stuck in the 4am, 8pm cycle.

But one nice thing about getting up early is that I can have breakfast before I go out deer hunting! The word for the week when it came to deer hunting was frigid! With highs in the 20's and lows in the single digits, it was frigid out there in the stand. Although I did not shoot anything with my bow, I did manage to get some great shots with my camera!

While at first glance this guy looks like an awesome buck, another angle shows you how aggressive he is with several broken times on his rack. 

Then there was this guy who is an amazing buck but is not destined for the freezer, well at least not our freezer. 
As you can see from the frost and snow on the deer and the surrounding trees it was a bit chilly out there. The fog and frost made for another really cool windmill picture!
Both Barb and I learned a valuable lesson this week about using a hot tub in cold weather. Each, at separate times, we got out of the hot tub went to the sliding door and grabbed the handle with wet hands. Our hands instantly froze to the door handle ala The Christmas Story. Luckily, we did not have to call the fire department to have our hands removed from the handle, but it was a lesson we will....well, we will probably actually forget it and freeze our hands to the handle again soon!

But none of that is the reason any of you tuned in this week. I, like you, have been anxiously awaiting the unveiling of the headboard Barb made for our bedroom. So, without further ado.... drum roll........


Pretty amazing right?!?!? For perspective, these boards started out as this....
So, you can see why these boards required cutting new edges, sanding, planing, and varnishing before they became the finished product. 

That's really it for this week. I have been working on the workshop and loft but nothing picture worthy. 

I think I have found a fix for email notifications for the blog. So, if you want to receive an email when we post a blog, please send me your email address as a comment. I will not publish your email address, but I can add it to the email list! 

And no blog is complete without a picture of Ms. Zoey, who has taken to sitting on top of the couch to watch whatever Barb is doing on the kitchen island. 

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Only 3 More Days!

I will be so glad when the election is over next week. Only 3 more days! No more political ads, the news should (but probably won't) move on to other topics. Sadly, I know the reality, and there will be sensationalized close races that will not be conceded and will be contested. It does not matter which side wins or loses; it's going to happen. Then there will be the counts that will drag out for days.  Then that will dominate the news cycle. Then if the media does not like who was elected, they will start the bashing of that/those individual(s). Anyone want to take bets on whether or not that will happen?

Speaking of government. I got a jury duty notice. Our jury duty terms here in South Dakota are 90 days. We do not have a lot of jury trials here in our county, but I did get a notice to appear later in the month. I highly doubt that I will get selected due to my quasi-law enforcement background and the fact that Barb worked in a county attorney's office for years, but we shall see. 

And since I am on a roll, let talk about health care relating to Barb's surgery. First of all, she is doing well, and 6 weeks later there is still some tenderness, but she says she is 95% or so. Still has a hard time with weighted objects over her head but she never lets anything slow her down and it will just be a matter of time before she is 100%.

We have a high deductible health care plan through Health Partners with a $5,000 max out of pocket. Meaning that once we pay $5,000, the plan takes care of everything else for the rest of the plan year. Health Partners and the hospital have been awesome with no billing issues or disputes. What we have noticed is how the drug companies are gouging us compared to what they charge the insurance companies. Here's a couple of examples; one prescription that costs us over $300 out of pocket in the past, the insurance company paid less than $100 for. An Epi pen that we have paid $609.52 for in the past, the insurance company only pays $200. I get that the insurance companies are big companies and have huge buying power, but are we not part of that insurance company and should pay the same as them and not these inflated prices?

Okay, on to our week.....

Sunday, we had our niece Alana and her husband Ryan over to watch the Vikings beat the Cardinals. But the real guest of honor that we were looking forward to seeing was Sophie, their little French Bulldog! 

I love the image on the TV in the background!
Zoey and Sophie played and played and played! Sorry Harry, no videos as it was nearly impossible to keep up with them as they zoomed around the house for 4 hours. Just kidding, here is one video for your viewing pleasure. I had to trap Sophie between my feet just so I could slow them down long enough to get a video. 
Sophie was not really sure what to make of the turkeys. I thought maybe she was going to go through the screen after them!

Poor Dakota just sat back and watched. Sophie tried to play with Dakota a few times, but a minor growl sent Sophie on her way. A couple times Zoey and Sophie got a little too rough so Dakota would get up and stand over them kinda saying "Okay kids, that's enough".

It was great seeing Alana, Ryan and Sophie and we appreciate them driving the hour and a half down from Spearfish to see us. 

The weather Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was in the upper 50's, even lower 60's so I put the workshop on the back burner and spent my time outdoors. I first attacked the stonework on the north side of the house. I really wanted to get that side done! 

Still needs to be grouted, but the north side is done!

I had hoped to get the south side done as well but with only two days left before it turned too cold to do stonework I moved on to another project. One that has been waiting for me for since May of 2019 when Guy and Sue stopped by for a visit and helped me construct the sliding doors for the shed. At that time, I screwed the doors to the shed and put them on the back burner while we worked on the house. 

Guy, back in May of '19
Now, it is time to get the tracks up and make them operational! It was a two-day project, but I am happy to report that we now have functioning sliding doors on our shed!



No headboard pictures yet but Barb is close. She spent a couple of days making the framing for it. This week she went to the lumberyard and got a couple of rough-cut 2x4's, sanded them, cutout a 1"x2" section on the back for the fence boards to lay in and then stained and varnished the framing. All that is left now is to put it together. Next week, I promise! 
My workshop project is moving along. I got 1/2 of the floor joists up and some flooring in the loft area. The loft will serve as storage for all of our outdoor gear as well as seasonal decorations. The loft area will eventually span the whole 30' of the garage, it will certainly be nice to have all this extra storage space!

Next up will be to finish sheathing the sides, run some electrical and insulate the workshop area. 

In between projects I found time to change the fuel filters in the Ram. This was a first for me and it was not too bad. I had both of them changed in about 45 minutes. This picture shows the new one in the middle, the old front filter on the left and the old rear filter on the right. The rear one was really dirty!
And just like that the warm weather was gone and it got cold with a dusting of snow. 
I've been out bowhunting a few times, watching the deer, watching nature and just enjoying the outdoors. I took this picture one morning on my way out to the stand.....


I've seen a few bucks but not the one that will fill the freezer this winter.  This guy was tempting....

Friday night we went over to Kevin and Cheryl's for a visit. I could not help but take these two pictures of Reba on the couch and Peanut (or Leisel, I cannot tell the difference) on the recliner. Who do you think rules the roost in this household?!!

Next week looks like more of the same, highs in the 20's and 30's lows in the teens. Whose idea was it to stick around for the holidays?!?!