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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Battening Down the Hatches and Getting Ready for Winter

The weather sure changed quickly here in Wisconsin. We are down to freezing at night and our days are barely reaching 50 degrees.  The smell of WINTER is in the air. 

It's that time of year when we have to start hunkering down and take care of things before the winter snows come. There were three crooked leaning trees in the backyard. They are growing with the roots potentially impeding upon the cement slab. Steve wanted to get them out of there in case the trees fall over during the winter. He could tell that they were rotting from the inside out. 

Steve got out his chainsaw and dropped all three trees.  He is skilled at doing this for many years working the grounds at the University, as well as the state park. He uses the method in which he uses wedges and creates a hinge and cuts so he can drop the tree exactly where he wants it to go. Here is a little video clip: 

They're just weed trees, some type of wild box elder that he wants to get rid of. He would like to keep the cement slab intact so he could do a future building project on it. It had originally been a chicken coop long ago. So he is thinking about building a cute Little Red Barn back there for storing garden equipment, lawn mower, snow blower etc. He talked with our neighbor who said he would gladly come and get the firewood. He will save for next winter, because it's still too green to burn this year, of course.

Here are the three trees and you can see the insides of them are starting to rot away. They are becoming bug-infested and he is worried that if the wind were to blow too hard and knock them over, the roots would pull up and damage that cement slab. Years ago, the trees probably started growing alongside the chicken coop and nobody ever snapped them off when they were young saplings. There were allowed to take root and take hold and grow into full trees

After the trees were down, he cut the limbs from the trunks, and left the main trunk for firewood. Steve hauls all of the branches in bundles to the back road of our property. Although it is gravel, it is still a city street. Our city crews regularly patrol the streets and make notes of wherever there is a batch of branches set out to the edge of the road. Without us even having to call them, within a day or two the chipper truck arrives. The workers pick up all of the branches and chip them all up. They are brought to the city waste yard where any city resident can go and get free wood chips! How nice is that? All paid for by our city tax dollars, so we do not pay an additional fee to have them come and get our piles of branches.

Speaking of branches, those sassy little deer have been nibbling away on Steve's beautiful burning bush. This is one of his favorite bushes and he planted it right next to the front porch of the house. Those stinker deer nibbled it down last year, quite a ways. And now they're nibbling it again!  Steve is surrounding it with a wire fence for the winter. Hope that helps.  

You can see the motorhome in the background in that pic above, because we moved it out from alongside of the garage for a bit today.  The kids winterized their motorhome for the season and wanted to bring it over to store it here. Last year we parked it back on that cement slab, but this year Steve figured it would fit better over alongside of our garage, behind ours.  Easier to get out in the spring, instead of chancing it when the ground is soft in the backyard. The driveway is very firm and was made with 4-5 feet down with layers of heavy rock to withstand the weight of large diesel motorhomes, so their smaller motorhome is not a problem at all. 

Once they were all backed into place, Steve pulled ours in nose first (for now).  They both fit nicely alongside of the garage, out of the way. As long as they are parked on a permeable surface, it is per city ordinance that we can park them in our yard.

Our drivers side window is still sealed up with the carpeting plastic protection film, and cardboard from the inside. I wrote a blog about it a few weeks back:

We are still waiting for our two driver side window panels that are being rebuilt from a local window company in Green Bay. They said they had to send them out, and it would only be a week or two.  Well, we are at three weeks and counting.  We called them on Thursday, and they said maybe they would be in on Friday, but not unpacked until Monday or Tuesday from the shipping pallet of windows?   Sooooo we wait.   

If we get them next week, we might still take off for a few days of fall camping, if it doesn't snow...  We are all winterized, but we can reverse that if we decide to go out again. 

Speaking of snow, have you ever heard of GRAUPEL SNOW?????   We had some the other morning, and the tv weatherman said it was called that name.  I have lived in Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula of Michigan all my life and NEVER heard it called such a thing.... but I guess it is a real thing: 

As I said, we are trying to get battened down for the winter. Steve removed the screen from the front storm door frame and added in the panel of winter storm glass. Earlier in the spring, we had screwed a farmhouse wooden screen door to front of the metal frame. It really dressed it up, and it was much nicer than just a solid rectangle of plain screen. We wanted to make sure that putting the glass back in that we weren't messing up the grooves where the glass slides in for the winter.


Once the glass panel is slid into place, we had to snap these grid strips on each side to hold it firmly. We are glad the screws from attaching the wooden screen door did not impede on the fastening system.  I really didn't want to take off the wooden portion for the winter. It's too cute!

Soooo there we go, all sealed up and pretty for the winter, but still the look of the summer screen door with the curly little brackets.

Wisconsin Public Service came by yesterday and said they needed to change out the piping around our gas meter. What they are doing is they are adding an additional shut off valve, and also a rubber section to prevent electricity from ever entering a home via the gas pipelines if there were a lightening strike. Pretty smart! Of course, Steve had to supervise the job---

Three weeks back I had written about how we added a Wi-Fi timer to our electric water heater: 

I am proud to announce that we had a dramatic drop in our electric bill by doing so. The Wi-Fi timer is programmable from my phone and I can override it anytime I wish. We have it set to only run between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the evening and the rest of the time it is off. Even during the next day the water is still warm, but we are not paying for electricity to maintain it at the hottest temperature for the other 20 hours of the day.

The span of the bill from reading to reading was only three weeks worth use of the timer, and it's saved us $18 for that 3 weeks span. So then I can calculate that it will save us $24 in a four weeks span. That is quite impressive, considering our electric portion of the bill $75 to $80 a month. So it is cutting off 30% of the bill.  The Wi-Fi timer only cost us $65 so it will pay for itself within two and a half months.

I'm watching the weather report right now on TV and it is only 52 degrees, and it's going to get down to the low thirties tonight. I am sipping some hot apple cider, in a special little mug from my friend Juanita.

I add a couple spoons of this wonderful mulled wine and cider spice mix that I bought last year from a little shop down in Stockbridge, Wisconsin. I am glad that I picked up a couple pouches of it because it sure is good.

So now that almost all of our outside jobs are done, my brain is thinking about a couple inside projects. I took a couple measurements and scribbled a couple things on a clipboard. This is how our projects begin. I wonder what I'm up to now???

Oooooh, here is Steve doing a little looking, little thinking, a little calculating, and a little measuring too. I think we are going to be working on a new project together very soon?

Before I close up this blog, I wanted to say a very special Happy Birthday to our youngest of seven grandchildren. Her name is Claire and she is turning 4 years old today. I remember four years ago that awful tense and stressful day that she was born way too early. The family rallied around her tiny little body as she gained strength in the NICU. She grew and grew and flourished into the sweet little girl four-year-old girl that she is today!!

here is one of my
 most favorite all-time pictures
 of her at about 1 year old

Claire has grown into the most goofy comical little girl that keeps us full of laughter and delight at her antics and her nonsense. Can't you tell?

She can find the silliest things to do that erupt in laughter and giggles and keeps all of the older grandchildren fully entertained.

Claire is Grandpa's Little Helper
 and loves to come over and do projects. 

It's been quite a while now since we've been able to get together due to the rise of covid-19 numbers in our state. So we weren't able to even get over to see her for her birthday! Awwwwww, but we left presents on the back porch and we were able to watch her open them via a zoom meeting today.

They all stayed home and had an Epic Birthday Day for Claire, which started with ice cream for breakfast and her favorite movie (Frozen II) with all the family together.

Happy Birthday to my little snuggle bug Claire. Soon this will all be over and things can get back to normal. My arms ache for the cuddles and snuggles, the stories and hugs, the baking and the projects and all the fun things we do with our grandchildren.

now I am all weepy---

Let us all hope and pray that the scientists and health experts 
will soon find a way out of this mess, 
so we can rejoin with our families again!!


  1. I think I first heard the term "graupel" last year. We just always called it sleet. LOL

    I wish too that this Covid thing could be over so families could be together for those special times again. I don't hold out much hope for a miracle vaccine though. By now there are too many strains for a vaccine to be a cure all. I expect it will be like the flu vaccine....anywhere from 20-45% effective every year.

    1. Yah, I don't expect a miracle vaccine, but at least some treatments and ways to slow the spread so it's less active. Then we can take normal precautions like the flu or cold bugs. But for now, it's just too prevasive in Wisconsin and growing in leaps and bounds, because people aren't taking it seriously. ugh.

  2. It's hard to believe it's already been four years since we all waited to see how Claire would do. She's more than just a survivor!

    1. Yes, she sure has flourished! As well as the 6th granddaughter, Whitney, who was also born early and with health issues with red blood cells... She is now 5 and in kindergarten and full of the dickens too!

  3. In my area it is also called graupel, however we locals call it Popcorn Snow.

    Happy Birthday to sweet Claire.

    1. I like that name! I have seen it before, but never heard it called such a name.

  4. I've seen graupel snow before but never knew the name of it. I've learned something new.

    Happy Birthday to Claire! What a doll she is. My hopes are the same, that there will be a reliable vaccine soon and we'll be able to open our homes and arms to our family and friends again.

    Take care and stay well.

    1. Having the grandchildren over is my biggest goal (and reward) for all this time in isolation. Thank goodness for the internet with Zoom, text messages and facetime.

  5. Definitely time to Batten Down the hatches. Wind is picking up around here.
    I'm surprised that Steve doesn't have a Firewood Rack so you could bring a little of the wood on each of your camping trips.
    Claire has grown to be quite the Cutie.
    Be Safe and Enjoy the snuggles when you can.

    It's about time.


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