When the Snow Breaks

This is my mother’s house. When I’m finished, it’ll be her palace.


As luck would have it, I lost everything I ever had in 2009. After floundering about for a couple more years in Las Vegas trying to rebuild my construction empire, I finally threw in the towel and moved into my mother’s house in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Most folks call it the U.P., but we just call it the Yoop. I hear tell they just added “Yooper” to the dictionary. I got here in August of 2012. I’m now rounding the end of my second winter here.
I had spent well over twenty years out west, seeking my fortune. I found it, too, at least for a little while. I became a contractor, and built many different things over the decades. When the economy took a dump, I came back home, and it’s a good thing I did. My father’s been dead since 1999, and there’s an endless supply of work to be done on my mother’s house. Turns out, I know just the guy that knows how to do it…all.
The property is a half mile from the shore of Lake Superior, and a few miles to the west stands the Porcupine Mountains. The small two bedroom house sits on the westerly edge of a nine acre parcel. The side porch has been converted to a master bedroom of sorts, although it needs a lot of work yet to make it proper. There’s no closet or bathroom in there, yet.
The one acre yard was grown over and in terrible shape when I got here. Me and Jim (my mother’s new beau), trimmed all the trees, mowed the big yard and did a general cleanup. I had piled up a pretty big bonfire by the time I was done for the season. On a rainy day in late fall of last year, I threw gasoline on it, torched it, and drank a beer while I watched the flames lick 50 feet in the air. That was payment enough. I love a good bonfire…and good beer.
After that, it was time to hibernate for the winter and get some writing done. I had a fairly productive winter, and although it seemed like it lasted a year, spring is already approaching, and I need to get this list down. What started out as a to-do list has turned into a book. I’m going to add to each chapter as the project progresses.
I can’t waste a second when the weather breaks, or there’ll be snow on the ground again before I want it…or am ready for it. The more I have laid out on paper, the more efficiently I’ll get things done.
As this long cold winter has progressed, I gained far too much weight. The added bonus of this project is going to be the lumberjack weight loss program. I’m not only going to drop pounds and slim down, but I’m going to build an awful lot of muscle in the process.
I stopped shaving in November of last year to welcome in the winter. My beard is over four inches long already, and being the Norseman that I am, it’s going to be a perfect accessory to start the lumberjack fitness routine. I haven’t decided if I’m going to shave it off in the spring, like I usually do, or if I’m going to wait til this project is done. If I do the latter, I might as well let it grow the following winter, too. By the next spring I should look like a member of ZZ Top.
This is going to be a project done mostly by myself, and on one hell of a shoe string budget. From dawn til dusk, seven days a week. There’s going to be a couple of phases where I’ll need an extra pair of hands or two or three or four or five, but I’ve got some good friends lined up for those days. I’ll have a keg of beer and the BBQ fired up when it happens. That’ll bring ’em in droves. It’s a Yooper thing.
This entire project will be done while the three of us are still living here (me, my mother, and Jim). We don’t have the money to hole up in a motel for six months. Or six days, for that matter. There’ll be no time for lolly gaggin,’ however I’ll need to sneak in a couple of fishing trips whenever I can, to break up the monotony. My friend Steve has got the perfect little boat for just such occasions. I can’t schedule it, but when the rain starts, the work stops, and the walleye bite. FISH ON!
The chapters in this book are, for most part, my punch list. It’s March second, two thousand and fourteen, and I’m writing this forward and list of chapters in the specific order that I feel things need to happen. Today’s high is two degrees Fahrenheit, and the low tonight is nineteen below. There’s about four feet of snow in the yard. It seems like a good day to get myself organized. As far as the weather report is concerned, next week should be in the high twenties. They’ve even predicted a couple of days in the thirties towards the end of the next ten days.
If I’m lucky (I generally am), we’ll have an early thaw, and I can get this plan into motion. I’m going to add to these chapters as the summer progresses, and keep it up to date with the progress. The dotted lines mark the end of today’s writing. We’ll see how well I can adhere to this schedule. I better not slack and piss myself off. If I don’t follow this schedule, I may have to fire myself. I hate when I have to do that. I always end up caving in, and hiring myself back the next day. There’s nothing worse than having to admit that you need someone, and I already know that I’ll never get this work done without me.


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