Friday’s Weekend Column
Really in the Deep Freeze, With Visitors Too

by James Glaser
January 7, 2005

I got up early Thursday morning, the sky was just starting to get a shade lighter. Remember it is winter in the northland so it really wasn't all that early, but hey, all the bears are sound asleep now, so me getting up before the sun was pretty darn good.

I had been thinking about those bears and with the thermometer sitting around 30 below zero, sleeping the winter away in a snug warm den seemed like a good idea. What a great diet plan too. Get all fat and lazy in the fall and crash for months and wake up all slim and trim. Just missing the Thanksgiving and Christmas treat binge would help me slim right down. I was so close too. I wanted to be less than 200 pounds by New Years and just before Christmas I was within 5 pounds. I could have made it, in two weeks 5 pounds is doable.

My only solace is that I have two people to lay all the blame on. That would my two loving daughters who have not a bit of will power when it comes to chocolate or anything else sweet for that matter. Whitney and Nikki both kept those sweets coming along with huge amounts of real food all Christmas weekend. Now I am making May Day my goal date to be under 200. Thanks girls! Wow, is it great to have somebody else to lay the blame on.

Ok, so it is like 30 below and I am up making coffee and the kitchen was a tad chilly, so I made biscuits, just to warm up the oven and the room. I washed the few dishes in the sink, swept the floor and vacuumed the rest of the house. Sometimes things go right and yesterday was one of those days.

There was a knock at the door, which caught me by surprise. Usually I can hear somebody walking up the ramp to my deck, but with a layer of snow on there the sound was muffled. My windows are all clear, but my storm door is a sheet of ice, so I couldn't see who was there and figuring it was some neighbor out and about early I opened the door with a big smile saying I just put the coffee on and the biscuits will be ready in a minute.

Like I said, some days every thing goes right and there was a really good looking woman standing there, I had no idea of who she was, and she stammered for a second before saying great, and walked right in.

She introduced herself, telling me that she had just moved to Bemidji and that she had been reading my columns for some time, and because she knew no one, on a lark she decided to come find me for a talk. Well hey, I offered coffee and biscuits, by now the sun was streaming in the windows and the room was toasty warm. I got out the butter and honey and we sat down at the table and had a good time. She asked for directions out here in town and said she had no trouble finding the place because of the columns she had read. She knew I was on the north shore of the lake, I had a workshop and greenhouse across the road and really how many people could have a 1957 International pickup parked out front. See, it was a good thing I never got that truck put away this fall.

When things are going good, sometimes they are going very good and my biscuits were from scratch and they turned out perfect, golden brown and flaky. The honey was Bar Bell Bee Ranch honey from down the road at Squaw Lake and I got to talk about how Ed Menefee, the bee keeper is in our VFW and that he takes his bees out to California in the winter and they pollinate crops. Also there was the fact that Squaw Lake is still named "Squaw" lake, after so many other places have changed their name.

I needed things to talk about, because seldom, well really never, do strange good looking women ever come out here early in the morning to just visit with me, heck they never even come in the afternoon either.

This woman was fun to talk to and right on cue, the birds and squirrels started hitting my bird feeders right outside the kitchen window. Like I said we had a great talk and then she went back down to Bemidji, saying she would e-mail me. I called Nikki and told her about my morning and all she could say was "Dad, did you see the movie Misery?" Thanks Nik!

I wish I could say life in the northland is like that every day and interesting people are streaming in and out my door daily, but that is not the way it is. I am sure my house is as snug as a bear's den, but in the winter up here people tend to get bored with their surroundings and start moving things around.

I bought a new, well really it is old, antique cast iron bed. When Charmaine was sick I bought us a couple of Captains beds. The kind that are kind of high and they have drawers under them. Two single beds. I had hers on the first floor as the bathroom was on that floor and stairs were getting hard for her. Mine was upstairs. After we moved in a hospital bed, I moved Charmaine's upstairs too. Now with the new bed, I am moving them both down stairs to make room, of course I will have to take the guest bed out to the guest house when it warms up, in the mean time I will have a little dormitory down there.

Really behind all of this moving there is a plan. I want to set up a work bench down stairs. The theory is if I have a work bench in the house and I wake up in the middle of the night wanting to work, I won't have to get dressed and head over across the road to the workshop. When it is below zero, that drive to go work fades when you open the door and step out into the cold dark night. I will still have to do most of the work at the shop, but I am thinking I will be able to carve over here. Actually if my shop had plumbing, I could get by living over there and rent out this place. That's another theory.

Last week the ice was 18 inches thick on the lake, but with the lows in the -30s at night, I wouldn't be surprised at all if it was two foot thick now. Even with a daytime reading below zero and a strong wind, there are people out there fishing. Hardy folks up here, not too bright, but hardy.

After we got a bunch of snow this week (8-10 inches) the café parking lot was filled with snowmobiles from all over the state. One couple told me they had been waiting two years to use their machines and as soon as they heard that we were getting snow, they hooked up their trailer and drove the 300 miles up here. More hardy people, but hey, it is good for the economy. I don't know what northern Minnesota bars would do if they didn't get those people with their snow machines racing from one bar to the next.

So, as long as I can't sack out for the next few months like the bears, I will have to stay busy and get things done. This is the time of year all the seed catalogs start coming and everyone has these grand ideas about expanding the garden and you order way more things that you will ever get in the ground. Just looking through the pages makes you feel good. Those color pictures of fruit hanging from those trees you can order are really enticing, but when that tree comes, it looks like a stick with a bag on one end and it takes years before you get anything to eat. One year I ordered some rhubarb and Charmaine and I laughed until we hurt, because what they sent us was so dried up and pitiful.

I have my garden all figured out and sorry, but it is getting smaller. Actually the Raspberry patch is expanding and it is taking over ground that in the past was planted with vegetables. Raspberries are easy to take care of and easy to pick and the number reason to have them, is that the deer leave them alone.

So here it is, the dead of winter and I have a list a mile long of things to do and I have women coming to my door early in the morning, so now I'll have to keep every thing spick and span and ship shape in the event that another will stop by, of course that plan will only last until I bring in all the lumber for the downstairs ceiling and start cutting it with a chop saw. Nice thought though.

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