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Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
Journal
June 30-
    I suppose first things first.  In my last journal I said that I would be a little preoccupied for the next few days and I bet many of you were wondering just what that meant.  The short story is I had to go in for some surgery.  The long story actually starts out way back in March when I took a spill on my sled and bumped my shin pretty bad.  I ended up going to the ER a few days later because my shin was getting worse not better.  My shin turned out to be just fine and while the ER Dr was looking me over he pointed to a mole on my lower calf that he thought I should have looked at.  I was planning on going in to see my regular Dr in a few weeks for my annual look over so I just planned to have him look at it then.  In the mean time, I also noticed I had some red bumps on my back that would itch from time to time, especially when I took a shower.  I thought at first that they were some kind of a bug bite (what bug would be out to bite me in April up here I do not know), but those did not go away in a few days either, so I figured I would have the Dr look at them as well.  I went in to see my regular Dr at the end of April and upon initial inspection he did not think that they were anything to be concerned for, but took a punch biopsy from one of the spots on my back and the one on my lower calf.
    We then fast forward about a week to the day Nora was moving up and in.  I got off a short journal because I knew I would be busy with her and other things in my life for a few days, then she arrived, we unpacked the truck and then I had to race up to play golf in the league.  When I got home from golf, Nora told me that my Dr. had called and wanted me to call him, he even gave me his home phone.  Now, my Dr. is a really great guy, but I did not take it as good news that he wanted me to call him at home if I could not reach him at the hospital.  I did end up having to call him at home and he informed me that both biopsies had come back positive.  Sometimes medical terminology is a bit mixed up because in this case, "positive" meant negative.  The biopsy from my back showed basil cell skin cancer and the one from my leg showed a melanoma.  Basil cell is not really a problem.  It should be removed, but cannot spread to other organs of the body, so it is not really a very dangerous kind of skin cancer to have.  Melanoma is the type that can and does spread deeper into the skin and eventually into the lymph node system.  Once there, it can spread to anywhere else in your body, including places like your heart, lungs and brain.  So a skin melanoma is not a good thing to have.  The first thing that popped into my mind upon hearing the Dr's report was what I wrote in my journal earlier that day (June 10).  In that journal I talked about how lucky I felt and how perfect all was in my life.  I do not believe in jinxes and now that all is said and done, I do not feel any less fortunate that I did on the morning of June 10th, but I did find it a little ironic getting that news from the Dr.
    The good news in all of this is that my melanoma was very thin and confined only to the surface of my skin.  In cases like that, it can be completely removed by surgery and there is 100% recovery.  So my next stop was to see the surgeon that would perform the operation and then we set up a date for the surgery.  In the mean time I dove into the internet and read a lot about skin cancer, both basil cell and melanoma and the more the read, the less I was worried.  The surgery was scheduled for last Friday, so on Friday morning Nora and I drove into Hancock and at about 10 am I was on my way into the operating room.  One unique thing about this surgery was that it was the first time I actually walked into the operating room.  All my other surgeries, I was either brought in via an emergency (broken leg, appendix) or was admitted to the hospital the night before and then wheeled into the OR.  So kind of a weird way to start that surgery, I thought.
    A few things amaze me about surgery.  One is how they inject me with the medicine that puts me under and I wake up feeling that I just closed my eyes for a second or two.  Of course I have been out for hours and lots has happened while I was asleep.  The second thing is how they actually go about putting me to sleep.  How is it that they know how much to give and that I will not wake up during the surgery.  And how is it that I am asleep, and cannot feel a thing?  I mean they were carving me up like a thanksgiving turkey and I did not feel a thing.  Just amazes me.  If there are any anesthesiologists out there that want to clue me in, drop me an e mail!  Back to the surgery...I ended up having 7 basil cells on my back and on on my forearm that needed to be cut out and the melanoma on my lower calf that needed to be "excised", a technical term for cut out.  The melanoma needed so much skin removed and was in an area that stitches would not hold very well that the surgeon decided to use a skin graft.  This was not a surprise, he informed me of this in one of our pre-op discussions.  Because of the skin graft and amount of other removals, they decided to keep me in the hospital so that I could have the good pain meds that are administered by IV and the strong antibiotics that can be administered by IV as well.  I was able to go home on Saturday, after a quick look over by the surgeons assistant.  I was really tired on Saturday, as I did not get any sleep Friday night.  Not because of pain, I just could not fall asleep.  That was the first time in my life that I stayed up all night, never falling asleep.  I did get some pretty good sleep on Saturday night and slept well last night, so things are going well as far as my recovery.  The skin that they removed needs to be looked at to make sure that all the edges contain cancer free cells, that means that they removed all the cancer and it cannot grow back.  Of course I will now be extra careful of the sun, I was always pretty careful, but now nothing less than SPF 45 for me, especially under the blistering UP sun!  Good thing I moved to a place where I spend 6 months of the year with a snowmobile suit and helmet on!
    I can say that cancer is never a good thing to be diagnosed with, but I feel very fortunate.  For one, we caught it early and it was able to be dealt with pretty easily and quickly.  Secondly, I have Nora here to take awesome care of me, which she has been doing.  Third, I am fortunate to have a job that I can do while being infirmed in my home.  While I would find a job outside doing work quite enjoyable, I would be sidelined for a few weeks because of this.  And lastly, I will have a complete and fairly quick recovery.  I have to keep my lower right leg immobile and have it in a brace and am walking on crutches right now, but as soon as the skin graft takes and heals some, I will be able to walk unassisted, probably in a week to ten days.  The lesson I learned and can pass on to you is to have any suspicious skin anomaly looked at.  I can honestly say that if my checkup was not in April, I may have waited until I was going in to have it looked at.  Who knows by then the melanoma could have spread deeper and maybe even to the point where it becomes very serious and even life threatening.  So don't wait!  The sooner you catch something like this, the better!  Much better.
    So other than that, I have not been up to much!  Nora has some family visiting.  One her brothers and his family are up for the week and are at the Lake Linden campground.  On Saturday, Nora went over with Burt to give him a swim and ended up doing some fishing.  She did end up landing the big one, or at least the son of the big one.  Ok, the grandson of the big one.  She said that is where fish sticks come from.  But don't let that result fool you.  Nora actually loves to fish and is quite good.  Does not mind baiting her own hook or taking her own fish off.  Maybe I will be able to get her to do that for me when we go fishing!
    So I have to lay low for a week or so.  I will be able to get over to see the fireworks and I hope the Fuji cam arrives by then.  I have a feeling that once my leg fully heals, we will be getting out to see the sights and will be sure to bring you along.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
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which helps to make johndee.com possible.
June 25-
    I'm going to try and get out a journal this evening, as I do not think I will have time for one in the next few days.  Not much has happened since I last wrote. I played golf on Monday and Tuesday Night and got my rear end kicked in league on Tuesday.  That's ok, up until yesterday, I was the one doing the kicking.  We have had our first real thunderstorms of the season.  I do believe that we have had one or two little weak storms roll through before today, but this mornings was an honest to goodness window shaker, with lots of lightning and even some strong winds.  It was welcomed rain, as we have had little since the day Nora moved up, June 10th.  There is just no substitute for a good soaking rain, no matter how hard you try and get it right with a sprinkler.  While I was sitting down to start this, Nora helped me out by taking the camera and shooting some shots of her handiwork.  I have helped a bit, mainly with the heavy manual labor, while she has really been the force behind the flower, vegetable and fruit gardens.  Well, she needs to get double credit for taking the shots, because I just downloaded them and the lens had a finger print on it that was messing up the shots, so she had to go back out there and do it all over again.
    Speaking of the camera, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my other one back.  I promised to tell the tail of what is going on with it so I may as well use this time to do so.  The camera started acting up this winter.  I'm not sure if the camera had problems develop on it's own or it just does not like the cold, but it got to the point where I could not really use it.  I would turn it on and as soon as I went to take a picture, it would shut off.  I tried new batteries and a few other attempted fixes, but all to no avail.  The camera was still under warranty, so I sent it off to one of Fuji's authorized service repair places in White Bear Lake MN.  The camera came back in pretty good time, probably about 2 weeks. The only problem was that it was not fixed.  The same problem that I sent it down for was still occurring!  Seemed pretty strange to me that they would not check to make sure that the problem was fixed before sending it back.  So I boxed it up and shipped it off to them in hopes that the second time would be the charm.  Well, weeks passed and I did not get the camera back and did not hear from them, so I called them up and they did some fancy double talk to try and explain things, but the bottom line is in about a week, I got the camera back.  The problem was fixed, but a new problem existed.  I again tried some different solutions and none of them worked, so I called the official Fuji Factory Service Center in NJ and talked to a friendly tech person who told me to just ship them the camera.  Well, I did just that and about 2 weeks later got a repair estimate back from them for almost 100 dollars.  I was puzzled as to why I was going to have to pay for the repair since it was still under  warranty. So I called them up and they said that the camera arrived with all the screws for the body missing.  Now, I cannot remember seeing or not seeing any screws in the camera body.  I did use the cam to take some pictures and then when I tried to upload the images to the computer, the camera would not function properly to allow that to happen.  The Fuji factory service center said that since the camera came to them with no screws in the body, it had been tampered with.  They stopped short of saying that I was the one who took them out, but said that the warranty was void because of the tampering.  Needless to say I was a bit perturbed at this.  I asked the manager at Fuji how it made sense that I would decide to take the camera apart to fix it, knowing that what ever part was broke I would still have to order and pay for when all I had to do was ship it off to them and have it fixed by a professional for free.  The manager was unable to answer my question, but insisted that it was highly unlikely that the camera came back from one of their authorized service centers with all the screws missing, to which I agreed and said that I would also find it highly unlikely that the camera would come back the first time not even fixed and the second time with a new problem occurring!  I think I got through to him a little, as he decided to cut my repair bill in half.  I figured that was about as good as I was going to get without taking my case to Mr. Fuji himself, so I said ok, I'll pay the half.  That was about a week ago and he said it would be a week or two before I got the camera back, so I am looking forward to getting it back.  I have learned three lessons.  1) I doubt that I will be buying a Fuji camera anytime soon.  I loved the camera when it was working, but so far I have had to pay for the shipping and insurance on the shipping for the camera three times, and will have the 1/2 bill for repair.  Seems to me their service for repair has been less than what it should be.  2)  I will NEVER send a camera to Northwest Camera and Video Repair in White Bear Lake MN.  I do not know what is going on there, but they did an incredible job of messing up the repair process, and 3) If the camera comes back working fine from the Fuji factory service center, I will only send it there for any future repairs.  Never a dull moment I guess!
    So now that I am done with my gripe session, Nora has come back from her tour of the front, side and back yards and this time the pictures turned out just fine.  The first shot I have to share with you is from the front yard and is a shot of what I call "The Condominium".  It just sort of reminded me of a condominium for flowers.  It has really filled out in the past several days and Nora is looking forward to having it completely cover up the container it is in.  The next stop is at the corner of the front and left side of the house and is of another hanging basket, but this time filled with pink wave petunias.  This too has really started to fill out.  I get to take credit for keeping both of those baskets alive while she was gone for 2 weeks.  Turning the corner and looking at the side of the house you get a view of some of the hostas that I acquired two years ago.  This is not the place to be planting them, as they are in full sun almost all day, but with lots of water, they seem to be ok.  I think that they will be finding new homes underneath the trees in my back yard this fall and Nora will take over that bed and fill it with plants that thrive in full sun.  She has already added two rose bushes, one of which was seen in that last shot, a clematis, a butterfly bush and some hens & chicks.
    Heading into the back yard, the first things you see are the pool and my raspberry bushes.  Well, I guess I was a little to possessive, they are actually OUR raspberry bushes!  But I will need to give them a shot of miracle grow, as they have just finished putting out some flowers and the berries will be starting to put to vine.  I hope to have a big crop this summer, as all the bushes will produce and there were/are a lot of buds.  Going beyond the raspberries and pool you encounter the two beds that will contain the strawberries and blueberries next year.  Right now they contain some watermelon and sunflowers.  I am not holding my breath for watermelon this year!  We got a late start with the planting of everything, so things are about 2-3 weeks behind where they will be in future years.  Such is the case with the radishes (left) and lettuce (right) in that shot.  The herb garden is coming along, especially the plants that we bought already growing, like the cilantro, oregano and basil.  We planted some lemon basil, sweet basil, parsley, chives and a few other things which have escaped my memory for the moment.  The peppers are also coming along pretty good, thanks to getting already started plants.  The cucumbers have been a little slow to respond to being transplanted and they had to be protected from some foraging bunny rabbits.  I think that there was one smart bunny that knew to come in the middle of the night when Burt was sleeping.  Otherwise, he has done a great job of keeping them out of the gardens.  And last, but certainly not least, are the green beans.  They just popped their heads above ground a few days ago and are coming along pretty good.  Nothing better than fresh green beans, except maybe fresh corn on the cob or fresh berries or fresh peaches...you get the picture.
    Back to the weather for a minute...Yesterday I decided to take a little tour of the list of web cams that I have for various parts of the country and happened along the one for the Alta Ski Resort in northern Utah.  Seems they were having a little late June snowstorm yesterday, with 10-15" falling.  Thought that those of you trying to keep cool in the heat and humidity in the Midwest right now might get a little chilling comfort from this shot.  If only I had been there with the new sled!
    The last picture I have to share with you all is of our welcoming committee.  The girls that Nora worked with in Port Huron gave her these two sculptured dogs to take with her.  It was funny, when we unloaded them from the truck, I put them out on the front yard and told Burt and Baileys that there were some dogs on the front lawn.  They ran to the window and got all excited and then ran to the front door, so I let them out and they ran full speed ahead towards the fake labs.  Burt tried to act cool about being faked out, but I think he was a little embarrassed that he fell for it.  Baileys still thinks they are real, just good sitters!
    So I guess that will do it for another one.  As mentioned, I will be a little preoccupied in the next few days, but will be able to write later in the weekend or early next week.  Maybe even have the Fuji back and working (knock on wood!) so that may inspire me to get out and take some shots of the area.  I realize I have been lacking in that, but it also is pretty buggy in the woods, so that is a bit of a deterrent.  The bugs should start to back off a bit (I hope!) or maybe it will cool off enough that I can go in better covered up with clothing.  But until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
June 22-
    I feel like I should be having a drum roll right now.  It it probably not that big of a deal to all of you what kind of a new sled I got, but for me it is a pretty special occasion.  I have been riding the same sled for 4 seasons and it was a fairly used sled my first season.  Granted there have been some modifications made to it each season and I think that the way the sled was running last season was the best it ever performed, especially for the bush, but it was really time to upgrade to a sled that is better suited for my riding.  So, without further adieu, I guess I can reveal the new ride for John Dee.  That was a 2003, 700 RMK, with 144" track.  The sled also has reverse and only 412 miles on it.  The story behind how I acquired it is a bit interesting.  One of my advertisers, Joe P. from Crashedtoys.com saw my Pol-Cat all crashed up on my last ride in March, when I tore out the radius rods and rear mounting bolt for the trailing arm.  He joked that it looked like the Pol-Cat was ready for Crashedtoys.com, and I told him that the damage was not as bad as it looked, but that I was very serious about upgrading my ride for next season.  He then told me that he might be able to help get me in that new ride and would keep an eye out for something that might be to my liking.  So we talked a few times to each other and I filled him in on what I was looking for and as luck would have it, a few weeks later this sled came in.  The way his web site works is that he has "toys" like snowmobiles, ATV's, motorcycles and boats that have been given up by their owners for one reason or another and those pieces of merchandise are put up for auction on line.  Since I did not have any real experience in auctions and was afraid that I might handle the process wrong, Joe said that he would actually handle the bidding for me and so the sled was up for auction for a couple of weeks.  I remember watching the price go up a little bit at a time and always hoping that the latest bid would be the last.  Then came the Tuesday that that sleds auction would expire and I got the E mail from Joe saying the sled was mine and the price.  I'm going to be tactful and not say the price that I paid for it, but it is very safe to say that I got an AWESOME deal on it.  I think I even made Al and Brian jealous with the price I paid for it and those two guys pride themselves on being able to get some great deals, using their network of "locals" and some creative bartering.  Well, I do believe I have trumped them this time.
    I forget the day that the auction ended but it was a couple of weeks before Nora was going to be moving up and I decided that I would just wait for her to come up so that she could join me in the trip down to get it.  Joe's business is located in Stillwater MN, which is about 20 miles to the east of Minneapolis, right on the St. Croix River.  A very pretty town on a pretty river.  So that is where Nora and I traveled to this weekend.  We made the trip down on Friday afternoon and evening and the trip back Saturday morning.  I actually ended up renting a U-haul trailer for it, as I do not own a trailer and the ones at my disposal for borrowing all lacked things like lights, or license plates or both.  The U-haul did not cost much, I think it was about 24 dollars for 24 hours, but we did have to make a pretty quick turn around in order to get it back up here in the 24 hour time period.  For those of you that are planning on making the trip from the Twin Cities areas or might be looking for a different route to the Keweenaw, we took one way down and another way back.  On the way down, we went through Eagle River and Rhinelander WI to HWY. 8 and then took that west to 63 and then 63 down to 64 and that into Stillwater.  Or at least that was the plan, but we missed the turn for 64 in New Richmond and ended up going south to interstate 94 and then took that into MN and up to Stillwater.  Not too bad of a diversion, but I sure wished that we had seen the turn for 64!  On the way back we took 64 to 63 again, but then stayed on 63 to Hayward WI, where we picked up 77.  Took that in to Ironwood, with just a tiny diversion on GG from Clam Lake to Mellen.  The trip down was about 350 miles (including the 15 mile diversion) and the trip back was about 310 miles.  The trip down took about 6 hours and the way back took about 5:45.  I can say that the trip back was much more scenic than the way down.  I cannot vouch as to which route would be better in the winter, as I do not know how the individual roads traveled by us are maintained, but that is the ways that we took and the results and impressions.
    We did take some more pictures of the sled and I can share them with you.  Here is the first of what will be many shots of me on the sled.  I tried to wear something that would be color coordinated, but my yellow shirt was in the wash.  Here is another shot of me on the sled, with a big old grin.  I did get to start it up and drive it 20 or so feet to get it closer to the trailer.  We did not have a ramp to drive it up into the trailer and both Joe and Nora thought my idea of squeezing the throttle to the tape for just long enough to lift the skis into the trailer was a bad idea, so Joe used his fork lift to gently pick up the sled and place it into the trailer.  I still think my way would have been more fun, but with Joe's way, I did get to see what the sled will look like when it is airborne coming off some drifts this winter!  Looks pretty good airborne, if you ask me.  Before closing up his shop, I asked Joe if I could take a shot of his current inventory.  He has a whole building full of toys, most of them right now are motorcycles, but I think that he said that he has sold something like 300 sleds in the past few months and will have plenty more by next winter.
    Since getting back, I think I have looked at the sled about a few dozen times and I spent quite a bit of time this afternoon giving it a good detailing.  It was pretty darn clean when I got it, but I enjoyed breaking out the tooth brush and dental floss to get those hard to reach spots.  If you are wondering about the health of the sled, it is in great shape.  It did take a rock or stump and the right side radius rods and trailing arm were damaged, but those were fixed.  There is also a tiny little dent in the underside of the running board, just behind where the trailing arm connects, but it will not impact the performance of the sled one bit and Joe was very thorough in his descriptions to me of the sleds shape.
    Now all I need is some SNOW!  Man, it is only the day after the summer solstice and I am as excited for snow as I have ever been.  Well, at least the minutes of daylight will be getting less and less now and in 3 months we should have either seen the first flakes, or I should be able to see them in the forecast.  Today has been our hottest day of the season and year so far.  The high reached 87, although it has not been too humid, with dewpoints in the mid 50's.  With the heat of today, it is hard to believe that Friday morning we had a frost.  Not a hard killing frost, but Nora's car was covered with it and the neighbors roof also had frost on it.  I did cover up the garden on Thursday evening, just to be safe, but with the ground so warm, I don't think that the frost formed on any of the grass even.  Today Nora and I took our first dip in the pool (sorry no pictures!).  It was just a bit chilly at first, but then felt pretty good.  I can see already that the pool is going to be a real handy thing to have around during these warm days.  I hardly minded the heat while soaking in it.
    Not much else going on around here.  Burt and Baileys are doing great, we took them to the beach today so that they could get in a swim.  Baileys continues to make really good progress and is now part of the routine when we take our morning shorties.  It's hard to believe that in just a week we will be gearing up for the 4th of July.  Things in the village are pretty sleepy right now, but that will start to change in about a week.  I'm looking forward to seeing the village get all decorated and then sit under the stars and watch the fireworks with Nora.  She's really excited too, I guess there is just something about being in little old Lake Linden during the 4th of July holiday.  So I guess that about covers things for this time.  I hope to have my Fuji camera back soon.  That is a story in itself and one I will save for another time.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
June 19-
    I did have all the good intentions of putting out a journal last night, but after a nice dinner, I just could not muster the energy to sit down and put a few paragraphs on the net.  There really is nothing earth shattering to talk about.  Nora and I are still talking!  Actually, things are going great.  I cannot say how great it is to have her here to share everything with.  The walks are so much more fun, having breakfast, lunch and dinner is great, even the daily chores are better (especially since she has taken over most of them!).  Tomorrow we will be heading south to pick up my new snowmobile and what would have been a long and uneventful drive to Minnesota will be so much more enjoyable with her to keep my company.  Of course the hounds are still as big a part in my life as they always were and get just as much attention, in fact I think they get more now, because they get it from Nora too.  The hounds took to Nora like a fish to water, but that is no surprise, they are smart and know a great thing when they see it.  So all is great up here in my little corner of the world.
    The weather has been just about as good as it can get.  In fact, I think this summer is the most comfortable we have had so far.  My first summer was not too bad, but I know we had had some heat and humidity up here by then.  So far this summer, we have not had a hot or really humid day.  Monday and Tuesday did get a little warm and we even saw some moderate humidity on Tuesday, but thankfully we were also a bit cloudy on Tuesday, as the cold front moved through.  Then the nice cool and dry Canadian air moved in yesterday and we are still in it today.  I think that is what I love most about the summers up here, the arrival of cool and low humidity air after some hot and humid stuff.  Those air masses do make it into places like Chicago during the summer, but not often enough and they did not last long enough for my taste when I lived down there.  Up here, they are very frequent and usually last longer.  In fact, it is the hot and humid stuff that is usually the short visitor.  It does look like we will get into the hotter and humid stuff by this weekend and into early next week, but so does all the Midwest.  We might manage to get rid of it by about Wednesday, while much of the Midwest remains in the hot and sticky stuff through all of next week.  Plus, in two days, the suns most direct rays start to head back towards the summer hemisphere, so that is something to help us all bide our time before the flakes start to fly.
    I am actually looking a bit forward to the drive to get the sled and back.  We are going to take one way to get there and another to get back.  Much of both trips will be on roads I have never been on, so we will get to see some new sights.  Years ago, I never minded doing some driving, but as the years have passed, I have really lost my desire to be driving for too long.  Even making the 2 hour drive to Marquette is something that I dread most of the time.  So we'll see how I feel about the drive down and back once it is all done with, but for now I am actually looking a little forward to it.  Plus, I am really excited to get the sled!  I realize it will just make me that much more anxious for snow, but that is something I will be able to deal with.  I just pray for a big snow year next winter!
    Baileys continues to make great progress.  Yesterday afternoon she went on what is actually our regular morning walk.  I call it a "shorty" because back when they were both healthy, it was our short morning walk, with the afternoon walk being the big one.  We have still been taking the shorty, but only with Burt, then Baileys would go for a little walk around the block or something like that and then we would take Burt for a longer walk.  Baileys was not sore at all after the full shorty yesterday, so this morning she joined us on our morning shorty.  She really seemed to be happy to be part of the pack again, being able to see all the regular sights.  If she keeps up this trend then I would not be surprised that by the beginning of July she is able to go for as long as she wants.
    So other than that, not a whole lot going on up here.  The bugs are about average, it seems like the black flies are starting to wane a bit.  They still will get you, but do not seem to be swarming.  The misquitos are holding their own.  Not a major problem, but if you are out around sunset or sunrise, you better be loaded up with bug dope or be ready to give blood!  The nice thing is that those darn friendly flies are not an issue this year and on our trips to the beach, the deer flies and horse flies have not yet been an issue.  Those last two are most bothersome in July and early August, but so far so good.
    Well, I guess I will talk to you next on Saturday or Sunday, with pictures of our trip down and pictures of the new sled!  Till then...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
June 15-
    Wow, it's been a busy last couple of days.  It seems like about two days ago that I last wrote a journal, not five.  The busy times started a few hours after finishing the last journal, when Nora arrived.  Tuesday was a rainy day all day and I was thinking that my golf match would be put off, but there was no lightning and thus it was left up to the individual golfers to decide if they wanted to play or reschedule their matches.  I called one of the golfers that were to be our opponents and he said that he wanted to golf because the rest of the week was full for him and there was a tournament that was keeping the club closed this weekend.  To complicate matters more, I had offered to pick up the golf cart for Al, as he was busy.  So that meant that I needed my Blazer for golf, which meant that Nora needed to arrive in time so that we could unpack it and I could head up to get the cart in time for our tee time.  Nora did arrive and we did have enough time to unpack the Blazer, but there was a lot to unpack.  Now, before I get into how jam packed the Blazer was, I can say that she did not have any more stuff than I had initially thought.  A few months ago, I wrote how Nora had promised me that she did not have that much stuff and I took her for her word.  Some of her relatives thought that statement to be a little funny, but in reality, she really did not have that much stuff.  I mean, when I moved, it took filling the biggest truck that U-haul rents, plus putting some stuff in the back of the Honda.  She was able to move all of her belongings in two trips with her car and one with my Blazer.  Although it is safe to say that she did use about every available inch of the Blazer in her last trip.  Here is a shot of the inside of the Blazer looking back from the front seat. Here is the view of the back of the Blazer and here is a shot of the back door.  We did manage to get everything out of it in time for me to load my clubs and head up to get the cart and be there in time for the tee time.  I felt bad that I had to run off and play golf right after she arrived, but it allowed her some time to put some things away without me under foot.
    On Wednesday, she took care of some more unpacking, we ran to a doctor's appointment I had and then got back and took the dogs for a little walk.  Baileys is really getting better and better by the day now.  Still not 100%, probably only about 65-70%, but she plateau at about 35% for a couple of weeks there, so it is nice to see her getting better every day now.  Hopefully in a little over a week, she will be close enough to 100% to be able to take all of the every day walks with us.  One of Nora's objectives soon upon getting up here was to get her gardens going.  We did make a few flower gardens when she was up at Memorial Day weekend, but those were pretty small and the main event was going to be the building of the vegetable gardens.  So on Wednesday, we also laid out the plots for them.  Then, on Thursday, we rented a sod cutter and cut the gardens out of my back yard, put 15 bags of organic humus into the gardens and then tilled the humus into the dirt that was already there.  I do have to admit that we actually did not do the tilling.  I had asked one of my neighbors if we could borrow his and he said sure, but then ended up throwing in his labor for free.  I was glad that he ended up doing the labor, as he really knew how to run the machinery and also knew the best method to get everything all mixed in.  So at the end of Thursday, we had all our garden plots ready for plants.  The two in the back are actually going to be fruit gardens, that is where I am going to plant blueberries and strawberries.  This year we just have a few watermelon and some cucumber growing.  The two longer plots in the foreground are where Nora has planted the vegetables.  I am not real big into vegetables, so most of what is produced in those two plots will be consumed by her.  The small triangle plot is the herb garden.  Nora got most of the planting done on Friday and I will take some shots of the plots with the plants in them, once the ones that were planted from seed pop up.  For the rest of the afternoon on Friday, we went to the north shore to enjoy the sun, the sand and the surf.  Well, the hounds enjoyed the surf, but it is still a bit too chilly for me.  It's funny that Burt and Baileys do not like to do much fetching, unless we are at the beach and then Burt will fetch a stick thrown into the water all day.  And I do mean all day, so I have found some ways to tire him out a bit quicker, so that I do not need to soak my arm in a bucket of ice like a pitcher for professional baseball.  One trick is to use big sticks.  He actually seems to enjoy getting the really big ones.  Baileys also braved the chilly waters of Lake Superior, but also did not mind kicking back with her daddy.  After the beach, Nora took me out to dinner for my birthday and then we cam home and had some cake that she made for me.  All in all, an excellent birthday.
    On Saturday, it was time to head down to the festival that celebrates the love that Houghton and Hancock have for each other.  Actually, I was saying that a bit tongue and cheek.  Most of the time, the two cities are pretty fierce rivals, especially when it comes to high school sports.  But for a weekend out of the year, the two cities put their rivalries aside and celebrate the fact that they really do get along pretty well.  Since the one item that connects the two cities together is the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, they call the festival Bridgefest.  On the way down to Bridgefest Saturday morning, I thought that the traffic might be pretty heavy in the vicinity of the festival, so I decided we would park on the Hancock side and walk across the bridge to the going's on in Houghton.  In the 4+ years that I have lived here, that is the first time that I have ever walked across the bridge.  I am very glad that I did.  Driving across it in my car all these years, I never came to appreciate just how large it is.  Walking across it allowed me to see up close and personal how massive the iron work is on it and also to see just how high up it is.  There ended up being lots of parking down by the festival area, but I am glad that we walked across the bridge to get there.  The big event Saturday was the cardboard boat regatta.  Yep, that's right, they build boats out of cardboard and duck tape and then pile into them and hope they float long enough to compete the course.  The fastest times win.  I'd have to say that the folks participating in the regatta are pretty brave souls, as that water could not be all that warm.  The big lake is at 37 degrees and I would have to say that the Portage Lake can't be much warmer than the upper 50's to low 60's.  Here is a shot of the first race about to get underway.  They race three boats at a time, launching from the beach and then trying to complete a course that is several hundred yards long.  The boats come in all shapes and sizes.  Of the ones in this heat, one was shaped like a giant canoe, much like the voyagers used to use to haul trade across northern MN and Lake Superior and two were more like giant cardboard boxes.
    The race got underway and as soon as it started, it was over for one of the boats.  In fact, it happened so fast I did not even see what happened, but the three participants in the boat were in the water in no time.  The large canoe got off to a quick start.  It's size and shape made for some very quick paddling by it's crew.  However, not long after making the first turn, it started to ride lower and lower in the water and soon sunk.  One other thing you can do is to paint the outside of the boat in order to make it a little more water repellent.  That to me would seem to be one of the most important features for the boat.  Duck tape is waterproof, actually being developed for the military to waterproof ammo boxes, but cardboard is not very good at staying dry and that big old canoe was proof.  Next year I think the winning design would be a canoe like that one with some sort of water repellent coating on the outside.  The third boat did end up making it around the course, it was painted on the entire outside.  After that race ended, I walked over to the beach where they were starting from and snapped some shots of the next few participants.  One entry was from Northwinds Books and the other from the Ambassador.  Those to entries ended up being a little too buoyant and were so top heavy that as soon as the race started and the race assistants let go of the boats, they capsized.  After watching the folks try and get into those boats a few more times, each time resulting in a new capsize, I walked over to the parking lot where the other boats were waiting for their turn at the race and took some shots of some of the more interesting entries.  Here was a bi-hull model with the propulsion coming the way of an old bicycle hooked up to a propeller.  Not sure if the old bike parts are legal and I did not see it race, but I think that I did ok, because on our way back from seeing other parts of the festival, it looked like they were getting it ready for another race.  After all that excitement, it was time for a nap, here are Baileys and Nora catching some z's.
    Other than the all day rain last Tuesday, we have had perfect weather once again.  Temps in the upper 60's to mid 70's, lots of blue skies and a breeze to keep things fresh.  Today was no exception to that trend and so we piled into the Blazer and headed to the south shore and the beach at Big Traverse.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day at the beach today.  No bugs, plenty of sunshine and warm temps.  While out there, I realized that I had my golf clubs in the back of the Blazer and did need some work on my sand shots, so I grabbed the sand wedge and some balls and practiced my bunker shots for a while.  I don't know if I got any better, but it was fun to try and I think I will have to do that more often.  I think we ended up staying out there for about 2 hours and I almost did not want to leave, but we had to get back so that I could take care of some work and get started on this journal before it got too late.
    So my work is done, I am wrapping up this journal and the sun is setting on another perfect Keweenaw day.  It looks like things may be heating up here a bit.  Not really hot, but I did not tempt fate and have put in my air conditioners.  In fact, the one in my office is running as I type.  The office faces the west and gets the full afternoon sun.  So that combined with all the computer hardware running, this room can get pretty warm.  But it is not right now and the rest of the house will be able to stay cool all summer as well.  The pool is still not yet warm enough for my liking.  I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to cold water.  Never used to be like that, but now I like it to be in the low 80's for comfort.  The cool nights have really been slowing the overall warming.  With the cover on it, it will warm about 8-10 degrees under the sunshine, but will then cool about 6-8 degrees overnight, so the 24 hour net gain is about 2 degrees.  It will get there soon though, maybe even by tomorrow afternoon.
    Perhaps this week will be a little more sedate, but I hope not too quiet.  Saturday brings to important events for me.  First, I will be returning to the Keweenaw with my new sled and also after Saturday, the amount of daylight starts to get less and we begin the slow march towards snow!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
June 10-
    I'm gonna try and sneak in a quick journal today.  Nora is arriving in about 3-4 hours and I am still in the middle of my work day, but I do have a few minutes at the moment and I figured if I did not get a journal out before Nora arrives, I will not likely to one for at least a few days.  We actually have a lot of work to do one she arrives.  We are going to be putting in a few gardens.  I know that at least one vegetable and one fruit garden will go in and I think she wants to put in a few more flower beds.  We are renting a sod cutter and figure we may as well put in all the gardens we want while we have it.  Plus, if we want to be able to harvest some of what we plant before the first frost arrives in about 3 months, then we had best get things in the ground ASAP.  So not only will we be busy unloading the Blazer and getting her un packed in the next few days, but we will be busy setting up some gardens.
    It is still hard to comprehend that in just a few hours she will be here to stay.  For 7 months we have been doing the long distance thing and we have never been with each other for more than a little over a week, so it just seems hard to believe that she will be here and not leaving.  Now don't get me wrong here, I am not scared or worried.  Not in the least.  The strange feeling I have right now is from excitement and disbelief that things will be so good.  I guess a weak comparison might be for those of you who landed the dream job, great pay, perks and doing just what you want to do.  Only for me, this is way better than landing the dream job, it is landing the dream girl.  It is so neat to just sit and think about all the fun stuff we will be doing in the days, weeks, months and years to come.  So taking stock for a moment, I have a job I love to do, I live in the place that is at the top of my lists to live in, I have a woman that loves me completely and I love her equally as much, I have two other companions in the form of Burt and Baileys, who shower me with unconditional love.  I cannot think of anything that could make my life better.  It seems like I have already been given too much.  I sure am grateful for all that I have and do make it a point to realize how lucky I am and be thankful for it on a daily basis, but it still seems too good to be true.  Sure I still have things that I would like to have some day, like a boat for cruising around the lakes up here, maybe an atv or two to tool around the bush on in the warm months and of course my dream log home on the property, but if I never got those things, I would not be any less happy than I am right now.  Maybe that is the secret to being happy in the first place, to be happy with what you have.
    I am also very excited for all of you.  My newer camera should be returning soon, Baileys is recovering nicely and the woods and beaches beckon, so I am sure that we will be taking off and doing lots of fun exploring and will be sure to take you all along.  Plus there is Bridgefest this weekend that we may take in for a while and of course the 4th of July.  I really love the 4th of July up here, especially the way everyone seems to take such pride in being American and also the way Lake Linden seems to become the focal point for folks living in other towns up here.  So hang in there, this is a slower time of the year for these journals, but I am sure that there will be lots to talk about in the coming weeks and even though we have yet to have any heat, before long, I will be reporting on the cooler air starting to return to the Keweenaw and soon after that the color changes and then the good stuff, snow.
Good afternoon from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
June 6-
    Magnificent.  That is the term that best describes our weather this whole week and pretty much the past 2 months.  Each day this week has been mostly sunny, with temps in the upper 60's to low 70's.  Yesterday actually rose into the upper 70's and the thermometer that is part of the snow station is sitting in the garage (in the shade) and recorded 80 degrees yesterday.  That is actually pushing the threshold for as warm as I really ever want it to get, but with the low humidity, it was quite tolerable.  The nights have been cooling off into the low to mid 40's, making it perfect sleeping weather too.  I suppose this is our reward for enduring such a bitterly cold winter.  Whatever the case is, I am digging this and it can keep on coming!  Even the bugs have not been too bad.  A spray of bug dope here and there and I have been good to go.  Clouds are on the increase and rains will be here by this evening, but that's ok, we could use a bit of rain again.  It has been a week since our last rainfall and we don't want to get things too dry.  Although the woods are in full foliage and all the fruit trees are in full bloom too.  It sure is a pretty time of the year for such a pretty place.  If it seems like I am in a good mood, you are right.  Friday is here, the weekend is upon me.  I do not have any work pending, just a little straightening up of the house for Nora's arrival and then either next Monday or Tuesday, Nora will be here.  FINALLY!  I don't think it has fully settled in that she is actually just 72-96 hours away from being here for good.  The prospect of her being here for good does not scare me at all, but I guess in an attempt to keep from driving myself crazy waiting for the day to finally come, I have not dwelled on the subject that much.  So since I have not dwelled on it much, it still seems had to believe that it is actually just days away from happening.  I am ready and so are the hounds.  Today I told them that she was coming in a few days and as soon as they heard her name, their tails wagged.  I actually told Burt that Nora was coming soon and that this was going to be her house too and he looked around and then wagged his tail and gave me a little nudge with snout, which is sort of his way of giving a kiss.  The house is pretty well prepared.  I have given her at least half the closet space, actually more and I think we are all ready.  So all I have to do now is get through the weekend and a day or two of work and she will be here.  That is why I am in such a great mood.
    In other news...Baileys is coming a long pretty well.  I was starting to get a little concerned, because she was opting to stay home rather than take any walks with Burt and I.  I have been kind of leaving it up to her to decide if she wants to go.  I know that may sound a little silly, but she does love to go on walks, so I figured that when she felt like it, she would show that she wanted to come along.  Plus we are not in any big hurry to force her to get exercise.  It will be good for her, but the Dr's and Animal Physical Therapist (yes, there are such things!) both agreed that it is best to let the dog determine how much exercise they want to get.  So when Baileys did not want to do much walking for a few weeks, I was beginning to wonder how long her recovery would take.  But yesterday when I asked if she wanted to go for a walk, she hopped off the bed and was excited to go, so Burt, her and I went for a nice little walk around the neighborhood.  It was a pretty short walk, only going around 2 blocks, but she used the leg a lot and seemed to get around pretty well.  So today I decided to try and make the offer of a walk even more irresistible and said that we would go for a walk in the woods.  They both know what the woods are and Burt was just about jumping out of his fur to go and Baileys also showed a lot of excitement, so we drove up to where the snowmobile trail crosses a local road and parked there and then walked down the trail a bit.
    The weather cooperated quite well for this endeavor, as I wanted to wear some kind of long sleeve shirt and long pants to help combat any bugs in the woods.  All morning the sun was shining and the wind was out of the west.  A west wind in the summer is a pretty warm wind for the valley, as the air comes down from the higher elevations to the west and compresses.  As it compresses, it heats up and we here in the valley are very often about 6-10 degrees warmer than the airport.  The airport being closer to the lake may also help a bit.  At any rate, I was growing concerned that the clouds and wind shift to the east would not come in time and I would either have to wear shorts and a T-shirt and coat up with bug dope or try and sweat it out with the long sleeved and long legged garb.  Just as we were getting ready, the clouds rolled in and the winds swung around to the east and our temp here dropped about 10-15 degrees, down into the low to mid 60's, perfect for a walk in the woods.
    The woods sure were great to be in again.  I have not been in them since Nora, Burt and I took a walk through them on the Sunday before Memorial Day.  Even the bugs were not too bad, although by the end of the walk the misquitos and deer flies were beginning to hone in on us and it was probably a good thing we got out when we did.  of course the hounds were as excited as could be to be in the woods.  Burt and I have been taking so many walks around the neighborhood that I think he was starting to grow tired of smelling the same old thing.  It's neat to watch them on a walk, sights are just not that important, but the smells are huge.  I am sure if I could smell 200 times better than I can now, the smells would be far more interesting that the sights.  At any rate, they both got to take in all that the woods had to offer in the way of scents.  For me the sights were of a filled out forest canopy, all lush and green.  Closer to the ground were the alder and berry bushes filling out.  The thimbleberry bushes already starting to pop some buds and even a few flowers.  In a few weeks the berries will start to show up and a few weeks after that they will be ready for the picking.  I am not to big on thimbleberries.  Too tart and mealy, but my raspberries look like they could be getting ready to produce a bumper crop this year and of course I have the blackberries that I planted on my property.  If they do not come up, I always have my secret blackberry patch.  Actually, I think I will have to resort to the secret patch again this year anyway, as the plants that pop up on the property will not produce fruit until next year.  In any case, after making it through a tough winter season, the forest of the Keweenaw is alive and kicking and getting ready to produce all the wonderful goods it has to offer.  I'm ready to accept those gifts and I am sure Nora is as well and of course we will be bringing you all along on our adventures, so keep checking back!  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
June 2-
    Happy summer everyone!  I know, I know, "summer" does not start until June 21st.  At least for the star watchers that is.  Meteorological summer starts June 1 and I am a meteorologist, so happy summer.  Besides, doesn't June 19th seem a lot more like summer than September 19th?  At least here it does, but if you go by the astronomers rules (as does most of the mindless media) then it is still spring until the third week of June and still summer until the third week of September.  By those rules, the Keweenaw has had it's first snow before summer is even over!
    Anyway, the weather has been having a hard time making up it's mind what season it is, that's for sure.  Last Tuesday was the end of a 5 or 6 day run of beautiful weather, with temps in the 60's and low 70's and lots of sunshine.  On Wednesday, the clouds and rain came and at one point I was up in Calumet, pumping gas in a pouring rain, with fog, winds of 35 mph and temps in the mid 40's.  Then on Thursday, the sun came out and temps were in the upper 60's to low 70's again.  Friday came and it rained all day and temps dropped into the 40's for highs.  Saturday was sunny with temps in the upper 50's to low 60's and yesterday and today we are back into the 60's and low 70's with lots of sunshine.  I sure am not complaining though.  No heat, no humidity, that's just fine with me!  It actually looks like we could see no heat and no humidity through all of this week, next weekend and possibly much of next week as well.  Who knows maybe this summer will be more like they should be around here.  They sure have not been the past few.  I know folks that went out and bought air conditioners the past few years that have lived up here their whole lives and not needed one.  Must be global warming!  Sound the alarms!!!  Just kidding.
    I suppose a little heat and humidity could be tolerated, seeing as though Nora got me a heat and humidity tolerator for my birthday.  I actually ended up spoiling her surprise for me, as I went and got one earlier this spring.  Then in one of our phone conversations I asked her to guess what I got at Walmart.  When I told her a pool, she just about died and told me that was what she was going to surprise me with for my birthday.  So the surprise was up and she ended up bringing it here on Memorial Day weekend.  My birthday is not until the second week of June, but I got her permission to put it up before that and used the sunny, but cooler day on Saturday to put it up.  For those of you wondering if those types of pools are really as easy as they say they are, I can answer a resounding yes.  The only thing you have to be concerned for is to have a flat surface to put it on.  I actually used the old cement slab that used to hold a storage shed.  The shed was one of those flimsy steel ones and collapsed during the spring thaw of the April before I moved in, so a week or two after I moved in, I took it all apart and hauled all the steel to a scrap yard in Ripley.  So the old slab provided me a pretty flat surface to put it on.  The slab was about 2-3 feet too narrow, so I went to Walmart and got some cement blocks to put widen the slab by enough that the whole pool would sit on the cement.  The right side is about 2-3" lower than the left (looks a lot more in the picture for some reason), but that is within the tolerances of the pools design.  Once I got the surface prepped, it took me all of about 10 minutes to get the pool set up and then about 6 hours of filling it with water.  Really an ingenious design the way the top of the pool has an inflatable collar that then raises the sides of the pool up as you fill it with water.  To take down, I just drain the pool of water, deflate the collar and then fold it up and store it.  Nora already has it all figured out how I am going to bring her refreshments while she lays on a raft in the pool all summer.  I figure I can oblige her a few times, but then the drinks may start to be accompanied by a cannon ball!  Oh, and by the way.  I have been explicitly warned that the AL Cam is not going to become the Pool Cam!  I suppose if Coppertone, Diet Coke or someone like that wanted to become a sponsor, then Nora might reconsider, but I have a feeling the numbers would have to be pretty big!
    So that was pretty much my Saturday's activity.  On Sunday I detailed (washed and waxed) Nora's car for her.  I could have just said "washed and waxed", but they way I see it, I worked for about 4 hours on it, using a random orbit buffer, with a three step process- a fine scratch remover, then a polish and finally a wax, I can call it detailing.  It looks really nice, but I still like my truck better.  Men and trucks!  I am actually writing this in the late afternoon, as we have a tee time at 6:16.  Need to practice up for the league tomorrow!  Actually, my game is not too bad.  I took just about all the points I could last Tuesday and I think our team did pretty well.  It's still early in the season, plenty of time to screw up, but it is nice to be off to a good start, not like last year, when I was trying to play catch up all season.  One thing is for sure, I think I will just fill the bathtub with deet and soak in it before heading up to the course.  The bugs have been getting worse and worse as time goes by.  I have seen some mention of the bugs not being too bad on other web sites for the area and I am a bit confused.  The bugs may not be to the lethal stage yet, but are about as bad as I can ever remember them.  With all the rains, the misquito crop is as bad as I can ever remember it.  The other evening I counted 15 on my screen door, following the CO2 and heat to try and get at the hounds and I.  I can't begin to imagine what they did up here before the advent of screens!  It would be far too hot to keep the windows shut, but you might take your life into your hands by going to sleep with the windows open.  Another month or so and the black flies (noseums) will start to drop off.
    Speaking of sleeping, I sure do have a hard time getting to sleep these days.  I have to go to bed so early because I wake up so early.  The sun still has almost 2 hours left as my head hits the pillows.  Sometimes I will even be trying to go to sleep while a ball game is still being played in the ball park behind my house and across the street!  Ah, but in less than 3 weeks, the length of sunlight in the day will start to get less and less and before I know it, it will be dark when my head hits the pillows again.  Heck, in less than 3 months, summer will be over up here!  Oooh, I think I just made some people mad at me!  Anyway, I have new reason to be excited for winter this year.  Not only will I have a new, full time companion to take skis with, but I will also be riding a new sled.  Yep, that's right, I went and got a new sled.  Well, it is slightly used, but will be new to me.  I was going to wait to spill the beans on this until I actually picked it up, but figured I could put out a little tease on the subject.  I will not say what make or model sled I got.  Not until I actually have it in hand, but you can go ahead a guess away.  I will still not say though.  Only a handful of folks know about this, so maybe they can keep from spoiling the guesses.  I have to travel down to a location near Minneapolis to pick up the sled and am currently planning on heading down on Friday the 20th of June and returning on Saturday the 21st.  So if all goes as planned, you all will know what I will be riding next season on the 21st.
    Staying on the topic of guessing, I mentioned that the date of the melting of the Laurium Glacier has it's winner.  I did take a picture of the prize, but did not want to post it until I was pretty sure the winner got it.  I mailed it out almost a week ago and would assume he got it, so here is this years prize.  Pretty fitting I bet.  I actually own one of those as well.
    The last subject I have in mind to talk about takes me back to the weather.  It goes without saying up here that the Big Lake plays a huge role in the weather for the region.  Not just in the form of Lake Effect snow, but in the "cooler by the lake" phrase and even, as is the case today, keeping us out of the clouds.  Here is a satellite image taken at about 3:15 this afternoon.  Note the the puffy clouds forming in the UP about 20 miles inland from the lake.  It is also occurring even more noticeably at the eastern end of the lake in Ontario.  What is going on here is the lake breeze is keeping the air along the shores cooler and more stable, while inland a bit, the air is not modified by the lake and is heating up enough so that it is rising and forming cumulus clouds.  In some cases the clouds are rising enough to form cumulus congestus and possibly even cumulonimbus, with rains being detected on the Marquette radar in southern Marquette county as well as into northern Delta and southern Alger.  Over the western lake and the Keweenaw, the milky white seen is high cirrus clouds that are filtering our sunshine, but not enough to make much of a difference in the suns rays or heat.  So you see, the lake does not just produce our wonderful lake effect snow, but can also help to keep us out of the clouds and in the sunshine.  Just another reason to love the Big Lake.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
 
 
 
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