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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Irish Creek Homestead; Construction Underway!

Looking from the rear corner of what will be the house to the southeast

I just returned from a couple days up north to check on the building project. It has begun! Neil couldn't come along on this trip so I had to be his eyes and ears. It was exciting to show up and see a whole new landscape now that the building site has been cleared. The footing trenches had just been dug and, oops, they were 5' off on the porch footing due to a miscommunication but quickly fixed it when discovered. Glad we caught it at this stage!

I spent the day working with Dean Berneking and his partner Doug Finn, of Grand Marais, who are digging and moving dirt around; such professionalism. I was also impressed with their patience with my questions and ideas. They took extra time to make sure things were the way we wanted them. We'll have some natural retaining walls between the house and back "yard" as well as from the back "yard", up to the dog yard due to the topography and excess of big boulders.

Digging two feet down with the machinery appeared to be no problem, however, once beyond that, it was some of the worst digging that they had encountered. I guess the house won't be moving and we'll have very little chance of frost heaves. Might be awfully interesting when we get to the point of digging holes for dog kennel posts.

I also met with Jay from Jay's Heating in Hovland. We spent some time laying out the utility room rough ins and discussing what will occur in phase one versus phase two. We've enjoyed working with Jay and appreciate his input on how to make things more efficient.

John Skadberg from Skadberg Masonry in Grand Marais is installing our footings and slab floor. We chose him because he had done such good work for me in the past on the original Points Unknown cabin foundation. He had not yet begun his work when I had to return to Watertown. Thankfully, we've got friends in the area that have planned to stop by to take some photos for us so we can continue to capture the progress before we are able to make it back up at the end of the month.

To see more photos of the build and some of the beautiful scenery I captured, please click here.

Thank you, Jerry and Kay, for your hospitality and thank you, Kristen, for staying with the dogs so that I could get away for a couple days!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Topa/Oken Puppies; 6 Mos Old!

Chetan (formerly Lutsen) and Animosh (formerly Grand Marais), living near Fairbanks, Alaska

Misquah (formerly Silver Bay), Name comes from the Misquah Hills which is inland from the north shore. It means "red rock outcroppings" in Ojibwe. Living with Points Unknown in Hovland/Watertown, MN

Irish (Formerly Gooseberry). Name comes from Irish Creek Road in Hovland. Living with Points Unknown in Hovland/Watertown, MN

Arrow (name comes from the Arrowhead Trail), with Points Unknown in Watertown/Hovland, MN

Jitterbug (formerly Temperance), now living in Northfield, MN

Salsa (formerly Tofte), now living in Northfield, MN

Friday, May 25, 2012

Taking the Leap

For Sale! Very dog friendly. Bring your dreams and make them a reality on this "land of opportunity"!

Well, I did it. Today, after over 20 years of appraising real estate, I did the inspection on the last home before I leave the profession for a very long, to take a much needed sabbatical.

I've been dreaming of this day for years. I enjoy many aspects of the real estate appraisal world but dislike most with a passion. The stress and pressure to meet strict deadlines and the general dysfunctional and toxic dynamic of doing appraisals for the mortgage industry finally got to me. I had been doing more than just mortgage appraisals for several years and had enjoyed the relocation and legal work. The mortgage appraisals that weaseled their way into my schedule just ruined it for me. Ever-changing guidelines meant to make the industry a "better place" actually make it more difficult for the appraiser to do the job they were being trained and hired to do. Additional requirements by lenders seem to continuously question the competency of the seasoned appraiser and at the same time, go completely against the federal guidelines in place for the industry.

I've served as an appointed member of the MN State Appraisal Advisory Board for a four year term with the intention of helping to improve the industry, only to find that the politics were so thick I couldn't see straight and that the newly appointed commerce department representative wanted us there like he wanted a hole in the head. Enough is enough.

This decision also falls in line with our goal of simplification and comes at a good time considering our Points Unknown Watertown, MN location will be officially listed for sale over the weekend and it will take more of my time to keep the place presentable.  Did I mention we also break ground on our northwoods property next week?! You can see a photo album of the Watertown property by clicking here.

Moving Scent from Nature, our beeswax candle business, forward before our move is a big goal so, the time not spent appraising and keeping the house and property maintained will be put to good use. Then, of course, it will soon be State Fair time and this is our third season with the MN Honey Producers State Fair booth contract. This is our organization's yearly fundraiser and we go through TONS of honey and bee products in just 12 days. Now, that is a big production!

Our biggest passion is our sled dogs and the adventures we have with them and the times we share them with others. Points Unknown will be offering our Oake Lake Adventures here in Watertown if we are still here this winter. If we sell the Watertown location and move up north before winter, we will be offering our True Northwoods Adventures in our new Hovland, MN location. The month of February will be spent doing our remote adventures in the northwoods no matter where we are living at the time. It's difficult for us not to know where we'll be this winter but I've learned over the years to work on remaining flexible and "letting go" of the outcome of which we have very little control. It's all about enjoying the journey!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Momentous Occasion

Ten dogs in the yard. Can we come in?

This is truly a momentous occasion for us at Points Unknown; having 10 dogs running free in the yard together. Why, you ask? You've seen more dogs than that running free together at dog parks, you say? Well, those dogs don't live together. Big difference. And those dogs are not all northern breed working dogs that have a tenancy to be more pack oriented with a strict hierarchy. Our dogs also did not all grow up together which also makes a difference. We've brought a few in as adults; adult males at that!

One big reason this is so big for us is that Points Unknown started with Inuit Dogs. Inuit Dogs are the only indigenous breed to Canada and they are an extremely primitive breed of dog that has a pack orientation similar to that of wolves. They constantly vie for superiority and the consequences for not submitting can be very horrifying to someone not used to seeing such a physical and bloody display. Needless to say, we got very used to chaos in general and were lucky to have more than two out in a play group together, wanting to avoid this type of display. Being extremely people friendly, we were never worried about our safety or that of our clients but the concern for the other dogs was weighing too hard on us and therefore, Inuit Dogs were not replaced when they left us. And also needless to say, this is why we set out to develop a kennel with a very laid back and relatively easy-going culture about it. I'm happy to say that we've done it!

I've got to say that I have seen some personal growth in that direction, as well. Interesting, isn't it, how what is going on in our lives and who we are, at the time, tends to be reflected in the dogs we choose or, in many cases, the dogs that choose us.

Topa/Oken Puppies; 6 mos old!

Misquah at 6 mos. 50lbs

Irish at 6 mos. 50lbs

Arrow at 6 mos. 55lbs

Each litter is very special in its own way. This has been one of the most delightful. These pups are extremely drawn to people and not as aloof as some of our Hedlunds. Arrow wants to be snuggled up in your pocket and is a big kisser. Irish is independent but abandons her mission when called and is very attentive. Misquah has things a bit more on her terms, or so she thinks. She's in the "you can't catch me" phase and has been carried from wherever she has decided to go on strike, to her kennel, on several occasions. Otherwise, she's a bright star that can see through your soul with those insightful eyes.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Building Project Update

Dad vacuums in his spare time. It's not like there's dog hair everywhere......
While Neil's been back in England working, my dad flew up from Arkansas to help prepare our Watertown home for its official listing for sale by June 1st. You can view the photos of this property by clicking here. A list price will be posted soon!  My dad wanted to make sure that, before he came, he knew there would be ample work for him to do. He didn't plan to sit idle. I think his wishes were fulfilled. I greeted him with four pages of "stuff" that needed to be done. He did everything from vacuum in his spare time to repairing things, to lawn work, to power washing the deck. I'm really not sure he had enough idle time!

Emerald Green metal roof and Hickory colored soffits and window trim.

H8 Cement Fiber board siding. Final color yet to be determined.

We also took a very big step in our Irish Creek Road Homestead project today when I wrote the check for all of the building materials for the shell and interior wall structures of the 70x30 building that includes our new home and beeswax candle workshop. (big gulp) This will be Phase I of the project with Phase II to follow once our Watertown property sells.

Later this month, I head up to Hovland to meet our site preparation contractor to sight the elevation of the house and then he can begin the building pad with the foundation soon to follow. We'll be building on a slab with 4' footings. Our carpenter friend from the Watertown area and his three helpers are planning to drive up with Neil on July 9th to begin the construction!

During the construction, another family member, nephew Andy, flies up for a visit to help with all of our projects. Shortly after and right before the State Fair begins, Olive, my wonderful mother-in-law flies in from England to help during the MN Honey Producer's fund raiser at the State Fair. Thank goodness for helpful and thoughtful family!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Buy Our Beeswax Candles Online!

We've finally got our online shop LIVE! Funny how relatively easy it was to do, however, with very little time on hand, any additions to the regular busy routine can seem overwhelming, but we did it!

Click here and!

Now back to shedding season with the sled dogs. The back yard is beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Wishing it was real snow......