Sunday, May 31, 2009

Memorial Weekend Recap

Sorry this is a week late.

Memorial Weekend was pretty nice at camp, very cold for this time of year but sunny. We spent the mornings and early afternoon cutting more wood for Mom and Dad.

The mosquitoes and black flies were really bad. Saturday, we had to run to town and get Tiny a flea and tick collar because the ticks are really bad at camp. We have never had ticks right in camp before so that was strange.

The woods were a riot of color as the wild flowers were in full bloom. We had trilliums, forget-me-nots, and all kinds of beautiful flowers.

Although we worked hard, we took time to play too. Friday, Saturday and Sunday we took a break to go to the Hessel casino to gamble a little. We were pretty lucky too and played for the entire weekend on just $20 apiece.

We hung up the "Little Girl on the Swing".

The "Little Girl on the Swing" belonged to Gram and during the summer months, she always hung on a tree limb in Grandma's yard. Gram gave it to us to hang at camp. Each spring, we hang her on a birch limb right by the camp woodpile so that we can see her. It is a symbol that camp is open and Gram is with us. Camp never feels right until the little girl is happily swinging in the camp breeze.

I have to tell you a funny story about our weekend.

When we got to camp Friday night, Arlene was really tired, so I offered to unpack our groceries and put things away. Usually Arlene does this and Mary and I do the "outdoor" chores like getting out the generator and the four-wheelers.

What I didn't know that part of the "inside" routine is to check the mouse traps. Arlene thought that I knew the routine so she didn't check the traps.

Saturday, I thought I could smell a dead mouse in the trailer bathroom. I complained to the girls about it but they both had a bit of a cold so they didn't smell anything.

Sunday the smell was much worse and I thought that maybe a mouse had crawled into the trailer drain and died in there. Again I complained to no avail, as the girls couldn't smell a thing.

Monday, we were packing up and Arlene was doing the "inside" part of packing and Mary and I were doing the "outside" part.

Suddenly, I heard Arlene say, "Did you say you still smelled a dead mouse in the trailer?"

As I turned around, I could see a large dead mouse in a trap, dangling from Arlene's hand. "Where did you get that?", I asked.

"I found it in the bathroom cabinet, under the sink", she answered. "Didn't you check the mouse traps when you unpacked the groceries?"

"No," I answered, "I didn't know that I was supposed to".

Mary and Arlene are now both convulsed in laughter at my expense. "Why didn't you just check under the sink when you smelled a dead mouse?", they asked.

I don't know why I didn't, I just didn't think of it.

But, overall, it was a great weekend, except for the seven bites I got on my right elbow that turned into a severe allergic reaction that sent me to the doctor the next day. Thanks to a shot and massive amounts of Benedryl, those have finally cleared up.

We couldn't go to camp this weekend as Arlene's granddaughter Anna, graduated from high school. And we can't go next weekend, as it is Anna's graduation party. But, maybe the next weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Honor Our Veterans

Arlene's grandson, Clifton, is currently serving his 6th tour in Iraq.

Like thousands and thousands of other brave young men and women, he puts himself in harm's way everyday so that his family and his country can be safe.

So, while you are out this weekend enjoying the outdoors, stop for just a moment and say a prayer of thanks for the men and women who have proudly served our country so that you and I can enjoy the freedoms we have as Americans.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Woodchucks at Camp Chicken

It was "Woodchuck Weekend" at Camp Chicken!

Arlene and I took last Friday off to give ourselves a long weekend at Camp. The weather Friday was really nice with cool temperatures, warm sunshine and a breeze stiff enough to keep those blasted UP blackflies pinned to the ground. Perfect weather to cut wood.

Mary Sue and Tiny even got to camp early so that they could help us cut wood for my Mom and Dad.

We spent most of Friday just east of the camp clearing cutting up dead maple and my Mom's beloved Ironwood. Ironwood, for those who don't know, is a member of the birch family, but is also called the American Hop-hornbeam maybe because it's seed pods look just like Hops. When dry, it burns slowly and leaves a bed of very hot coals making it perfect for woodstoves.

I gave Arlene and Mary the name "Woodchucks" because they never let any piece of wood go to waste. No matter how small the stick is, we can still use it, they insist. So anything too small for Mom and Dad goes on the camp woodpile for campfire wood. Nothing goes to waste with those two "woodchucks".

Arlene cooked us a great dinner of grilled steak and potatoes and biscuits. We ate like lumberjacks.

Saturday found us up very early to go to town to a garage sale that supposedly had an backyard sauna for sale. Arlene wants a sauna for camp.

Finnish saunas are extremely popular in the UP because of the large Finnish population that lives here.

Sauna is really more of a Yooper verb than a noun. It means to sit in a small shack, usually made of cedar, and pour water on rocks heated on the top of a wood stove, and sit in the steam. When you have had all the heat you can take, you run outside and take a cold shower or roll in the snow if it is wintertime. Sounds like fun, huh?

Anyway, the sauna wasn't really what we were looking for. We ran a few errands and headed back to camp. We needed to drain the water and bleach solution we use to sanitize the water tank so that we could fill the trailer tank with water.

We ran into Mom and Dad on the road. They had come up and got the wood that we had cut up the day before. They couldn't visit too long as Dad had to get his hair cut.

Then it was off to the south of camp to another spot that had quite a bit of dead, dry ironwood and maple. We spent the entire day back there, cutting, dragging and hauling wood back to camp to put on the trailer for Mom and Dad.

Some of the dead maple was pretty big for the wood stove so Arlene decided to split it.

I had kept a small fire going in the camp firepit all day so that we could cook hotdogs over the fire for lunch. Why is a hotdog cooked over an open fire the most delicious meal ever??

Then it was back to the woods. Finally, at 4:00 pm, our backs couldn't take anymore and we quit for the day.

The girls began hinting that they really needed a cup of coffee and a hamburger for dinner so I told them that if they wanted to go to Hessel casino for the evening, we had to take a little nap.

Sunday we were supposed to take Mom and Dad out for their birthdays and Mother's Day but Mom was so dizzy she couldn't even walk so we'll have to do it next weekend. Since Arlene is a Mom, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother we took her out for brunch.

Unfortunately, brunch didn't agree with her and she spent most of Sunday in the outhouse. All in all, it wasn't a great day to be a Mom!

Mary and I amused ourselves by cutting up camp wood on the old "cart path" that runs in a circle around the camp clearing. Arlene's grandchildren built it for the little cart they had when they were small. It looked like a little dune buggy. They had more darn fun with that thing, riding around and around camp as fast as they could go.

We decided to knock off by 2:30 and just sit and enjoy the rest of the afternoon sitting by the fire.

We finally packed up about 5:00 and headed home. I hate packing up! It is so much more fun to unpack at camp than packup.

Well, there is always next weekend!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Nice Weekend at Camp

Arlene, Mary, Tiny and I went to Camp early Saturday morning even though the weather forecast was for rainy and cold weather.

Arlene wanted to "house clean" the trailer and Mary and I would work on cleaning up the mess around camp from the winter. We got to camp about 10:30 AM and it was rather cool and cloudy so we made a nice fire and got to work.

Something is killing our beautiful spruce trees! I don't know if it is an insect infestation or a type of tree disease but it starts with the ends of the boughs turning a kind of yellowish-brown and then slowly the needles fall off and the tree limbs die. Does anyone know what this might be or how I can find out what it is???

Anyway, the high winds this winter caused the tops of three of our dead spruce to snap off leaving a big mess by my bow shack. Mary and I removed all of the limbs and cut those up to burn up in the campfire and then I cut up the trees for firewood.

We did other chores too and had quite the busy afternoon. By 4:00 PM Arlene had completely finished cleaning the trailer and we were just taking a break when it began to rain. Mary and I hustled inside to wait it out. We decided on a game of Phase 10 to pass the time. Soon the rain turned to HAIL and it was pelting down pretty hard.

I was going to make sandwiches for dinner but the girls were hinting that they would like something warm to eat, like maybe a hamburger. I soon realized that they meant they wanted to go down to the Hessel casino for dinner and some gambling fun.

Sunday dawned cool but sunny and after a breakfast of coffee and donuts we started cutting firewood for my Mom and Dad's woodstove. They burned quite a bit of the wood we cut for them last fall during the long, cold winter so they need stocked up.

Arlene's brother came up and cut up a bunch of downed dead trees and left them piled up to be picked up later.

Finally, about 3:00 PM we called it a day. Muscles that had remained unused all winter except for snow shoveling were pretty sore and tired so it was time to quit. We just sat and enjoyed the sunshine and the peace of being out in the woods.

Can't wait to go again this weekend!!