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DayCreek Journal

January 11 , 2003

I will probably be deported from Minnesota for letting the cat out of the bag, but I'm here to tell you that the vision planted in everyone's head of Minnesota being a frozen wasteland is totally inaccurate. (The movie Fargo was just that—a movie.) With temperatures in the mid 50's in January, there's no way that your tongue will freeze to a light pole. Cars start without a jump and tires don't go flat. It's all a myth! Minnesotans say this kind of stuff to keep the riffraff out of their state. While all the tourists are down at Disneyworld, Minnesotan's are tanning themselves.

The award for most unique holiday gift goes to Jim Neven for his 16-sided, wine-bottle-cork-birdhouse topped off with a champaigne-cork-cupola. (This birdhouse is too unique to let any bird use it.) Thank you Jim -- pretty good work for just "winging" it!

Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit, but it was quite astounding to have temperatures in the mid 50's (F) on both Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. There were records broken all over the upper Midwest. Why? El Niño and no snow on the ground seem to be the two prevalent reasons. Sitting in the sun on the south side of the house was quite pleasant and even though I took the above photo for effect, I did bask in the sun for a while. (Me and a few flies.)

But like all good things must come to an end, so has the warm weather. Temperatures are slightly below normal now with highs in the teens and lows around zero. But still no snow. It has really hurt the snow mobile business in these parts, but I can't say I feel bad about that. I can see using a snow mobile as a means for getting around when snow conditions require them, but to race around half intoxicated for no good reason doesn't make sense to me.

Wall-O-Meter on the Move
This week I was able to finish the first interior cordwood wall. It was a bit of a pain as I got to the top. The last two batches of mortar had to be carried up by bucket along with a few logs to finish up the section between the first and second floor. With plenty of interruptions and no mixer, the wall seemed to take forever to do. It's a rather ugly wall with lots of mortar mixes thrown in for testing purposes. (As mentioned in previous journals, this wall will be behind the bathroom, hidden from view.)

One aspect of the wall that I haven't discussed is the variation in color. Mixes made from Portland cement and lime were the grayest, while the PEM (Paper Enhanced Mortar) was the whitest. Mixes that used sawdust were a bit more yellow in color. To the eye, an entire wall done with the same mix probably wouldn't look that different, but when different mixes are applied to the same wall adjacent to each other, the colors really do show themselves.

The test mixes that I used before the holiday season are totally dry now and PEM is the hands-down winner for the least amount of shrinkage cracks. The sawdust mix came in second place, but there were still quite a few cracks. I probably could have avoided some of the cracks by keeping the wall damp while it cured, but I didn't want to "baby" the wall.

This will be the last cordwood wall until sometime during the Spring season since there are plenty of other tasks that have to be done first: rough in the bathroom, install the interior posts (32 total: both first and second floor), and run electric lines and fixtures from the posts to the main panel.

Since the downstairs bathroom is designed for the handicap, it will be rather large once completed, but I will need room to maneuver wheel barrows. For this reason, only the shower and toilet will be installed along with a temporary wall—just enough to add a few conveniences to the house and make Jo (and friends) happy.

Depending upon weather conditions and my "honey-do" list, I may take a few weeks off from the house. I've got some work to do on the web site too—new photographs to put in the album and other fun things. We'll see how things go.

Birds of a different feather?
Bald eagles are quite common here during the winter months and these two seem to like the bluff in back of our house. They are both bald eagles, the one on the left is an immature eagle. Bald eagles don't get their white heads and tails until they are 4 to 5 years of age. They have wing spans up to 7 1/2' and weigh between 8 and 14 pounds.