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Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
Journal
May 28-
    What a difference a day makes.  There are many places on the planet for which the saying "If you don't like the weather...just wait a day, and it will change"  is very true, but I think that there are only a handful of places where the changes will be more extreme.  Yesterday was sunny, temps in the upper 70's and maybe even a few low 80's, a gentle breeze.  Today is cloudy, light rain, fog, temp of 45 degrees and winds of 25 to 30 mph.  Makes me really glad our golf league was yesterday and not today!  When I went to bed last night, I could have almost benefited from having the air conditioner in, but by the morning, the house was plenty cool and I could have actually used the heat.  I have yet to turn the heat on, but may actually build a fire when I am done with this journal to try and take some of the chill out of the house.
    Other than the change of weather, not much else going on up here.  Nora left on Monday morning, but will be either here, or on her way in 14 days, so saying good bye this time was not as hard, but still not fun.  We had a nice walk in the woods on Sunday evening with Burt and it will be great to take those walks every day beginning in two weeks.  Baileys is still not able to do all that much walking, but she is progressing.  It may take another month before she is tagging along with us on the shorter walks, but I can tell she is making progress.  Nora and I performed a little vehicle swap, as I noticed a problem with one of her tires Sunday evening.  Seeing as though she was planning to leave for down state early Memorial Day and no tire shops were open when I noticed the problem and I doubt there would have been one open Monday, I let her take the Blazer back to Port Huron and she left me her car.  I was able to get her car fixed yesterday, so I have a reliable vehicle, but not one that will allow me to get up to the lumber yard and get the wood needed to perform the projects I have left to do.  I actually may be able to get the wood, using two car carriers that I made when I was driving the Honda, so we'll see.  If not, no biggie, I can use a little break from the shop.
    I suppose the biggest news I have to share with you all is the fact that the Laurium Glacier melted Monday.  On Sunday evening, it was on it's last legs and Monday afternoon was gone.  It hung in there though, lasting longer than the previous two years.  So congratulations to "taford".  As I was updating the "firsts and lasts" page, I noticed that the last accumulation of snow occurred on April 3rd and and the last flakes we saw were on April 3rd.  That is pretty unusual and also longer than it seemed.  For some reason, it seems like we had seen snow later than that.  All the previous years, flakes flew at least until the third week of April.  I think it is pretty safe to say that we are done with out snow for this season.  It is not impossible for us to get snow after this date, but the forecast does not indicate it to occur through the next 10 days and by the beginning of June, it is pretty safe to say we are done.  Some time when I am feeling ambitious, I will put together a comprehensive historical weather page, showing just about every type of snowfall statistic for the Keweenaw that you would even want to know, at least going back to the late 40's.  The data before that is a little suspicious, if you ask me.
    If it seems like I have been jumping around a lot in this journal, it is because I have a terrible case of writers block and the past three paragraphs have taken me about an hour an a half to write.  I just can't seem to latch on to a creative thought at the moment, so have been just spitting out anything that comes to mind.  I am sorry that the journals have been lacking for the sights of the Keweenaw.  The main reason is really because of Baileys.  If she were better, then we all would be taking some nice walks in the woods and on the beach.  As mentioned, that will all be changing in a few weeks or a month or so, so hang in there.  I will try my best to be able to get out when I can and capture some shots.  I had to send the new camera back in for repairs.  I called the Fuji Factory center and they said that my problems were definitely due to the camera and not the software.  They also asked that I send the camera to them and not the repair shop I had been sending it to.  After all my bad experiences with that other shop, I had no intentions of ever sending it to them again!  Hopefully I will be getting it back in a week or two.  At any rate, I guess I am about out of things to ramble about, so will sign off for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
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May 24-
    Busy times, busy times.  Nora arrived on Thursday night and I have been pretty busy since I last put out a journal last Monday.  I had to get the house all cleaned up, grass cut, and also was hoping to finish the kitchen hutch I was building.  I had made up my mind as I was constructing it that I would not worry if I did not get it done by the time she arrived, especially since I started it less than 2 weeks from when she was going to be arriving, but things went fairly smoothly and I actually put the finishing touches on it a few hours before she arrived.  I say things went fairly smoothly, but there are always some glitches, especially when I design the piece myself.  If I am just making it from already drawn up plans, then it is just a matter of following directions and thus very few problems arise.  But when I draw up the plans myself, I usually do not go into great detail, just sort of coming up with the overall dimensions of the piece and the dimensions of any of the other elements that need to be a specific size.  Otherwise, there is usually a bit of "in the process" design work done and that was sort of the case with this piece.  The only major glitch was that one of the drawers was made too large, so I had to cut it apart, resize the pieces and then put it back together.  Second time was the charm and most everything else when well.  Even the finishing, although there was a moment, when I thought the top would have to be redone.  I do not work with polyurethane all that much (I'd rather use a hand rubbed oil finish on most pieces) and initially it looked like the finish was all uneven and would have to be sanded even and then a new top coat put on, but while drying overnight, it leveled itself and in the morning was nice and flat.  At any rate, enough talking about it for a second and have a look at it.
    The case, door, and drawer fronts were made with cabinet grade plywood and poplar, while the top and drawer pulls are hard maple.  It was made and finished to match the existing kitchen cabinetry that was refinished a few months after I moved in.  I know that using plywood may sound like a cheap way to go, but when building a large case, such as this piece, it is the best way to go.  Plywood is very stable and thus will not shrink or expand or even warp that much.  And you can also choose a type that has the outer most veneer to be in a wood of your choice.  Mine was just one that would paint up well, but I have built other large case pieces that used cherry and oak veneer on the outside, so it looked like the panel or piece was one solid piece of cherry or oak wood.  I then chose poplar for it's stability and the fact that I takes a coat of paint very well.  I don't know how many of you caught my use of door in the singular tense, I did mean that, the hutch actually only has one door, and that is the one on the left.  The one on the right is actually a false door and is actually all one piece with the drawer front above it.  The two combine to make one large drawer that conceals the trash bin.  That's one of the neat things about designing and building my own furniture, I get to incorporate features like that into it and make it a truly custom piece.  All the other drawers and doors are what they appear to be, but the two lower drawers in the middle were made to size so that they could house the plastic bins used to house the dogs food and treats.  Nora loves the fact that the case now holds the microwave, so that more kitchen counter space is freed up.  I like that fact too.
    So I now only have two more things to build before she arrives.  A pedestal for the bed that will have drawers for cloths and stuff and some storage shelves in the basement for seasonal cloths and other nick nacks.  Both of those will be pretty easy, the bed pedestal will take about two day's to make and the basement storage rack a few hours.  Then I'll likely take a little breather and get ready for the summer's major project and that is the fireplace mantel, hearth and bookcases, cabinets.  I have been wanting to get that done for some time now and there are actually a few things I want to do to my workshop to get it further up to speed before I start in on that.  It will really be a focal part of the entire house and needs to really be constructed flawlessly.  Oop, I almost forgot, I also promised Nora a gardening work bench for her birthday, so that will be in the works soon too.
    Speaking of gardening, Nora's green thumb has already started to have an effect on my yard.  Yesterday we created and planted two small gardens.  They are sort of half moon shaped and we planted some perennials in them.  She might also throw some annuals in them once she moves up.  Those two small flower beds were just to sort of get her feet wet.  She loves to garden and we will be adding a nice vegetable garden and I can see a lot more flower beds going in as the years progress.  I am looking forward to having a different color than green around here and am excited to have the bulbs we planted yesterday pop up and color the yard.  My raspberries are filling out nicely and I am looking forward to a bumper crop of them.  My bush total increased by a factor of 5 last year and I now have about 28 bushes that will provide berries this summer.  I also planted some blackberries on the property and hope they come up as well.  They will not likely provide fruit this year, but will beginning next year and then continue on and on and maybe even spread as the birds and bear will eat the berries and then spread the seeds a few hours later!
    I got the new camera back from the shop.  It is working as far as turning on and taking pictures, but now I cannot get it to talk to my computer, so I cannot download the pictures I took.  I have tried removing the drivers for the camera and reinstalling and even reinstalled the software that comes with the cam and nothing worked.  I think that something is still screwed up with the cam and will be sending it back in.  Just not to the place that has sent it back to me not working twice now!  Somehow I get the feeling that they might not be too qualified to fix the camera I am sending them.  I did take some pictures with it that I wanted to share with you all, but they are trapped in the cam right now.  One of the pics was of the Laurium Glacier, taken just this morning.  It is still hanging in there, but is on it's last legs that's for sure.  I'd have to say that it has less than a week left, maybe just a few days, but already it has lasted longer than the previous two years I have been keeping an eye on it.  I will have to make daily checks on it now to make sure I get the correct date of it's departure.  But, if you are one of the 7 lucky people that picked a day between now and next Saturday, stay tuned!
    With Nora here, I finally broke down and got out of the neighborhood.  Baileys is still not up for much walking.  She is putting a little more weight on the hip she had operated on, but since her other hip is also in not the best of shape, she really cannot go too far and I have not been pushing her either.  The Dr's said that the dogs really know how much to do and not to do and she will just determine how much she wants to exercise it.  She does have the go ahead to do as much as she wants though.  So since she has not been going on much of any walks, Burt and I have stuck pretty close to home, just walking around the neighborhood.  Today though, we piled in the car and headed to a beach that Nora told me about, but had never been to.  She calls it bare butt beach.  I did not get to see her bare butt and she did not get to see mine, but I suppose that can wait for another day.  However, it was a great beach, with a mix of white, sugary sand and some sand stone rocks.  The woods go right up to the beach, with no man made objects to spoil things and the water does not drop off very quickly either.  The thing I liked the most about it is that it is tucked away in a forgotten part of the Keweenaw, and does not look to be the type of place that gets many visitors.  The hounds did not waste too much time getting their feet and other body parts wet.  The water was still a bit on the chilly side for this transplanted Yooper (still reports of ice on the lake to the south of our location!), but Nora did brave the water, at least up to her ankles.  Needless to say, I am going to be selfish and keep this place to myself, or at least the directions on how to get there.  I am sure that we will be going there a lot this summer and in summers to come, so there will be lots more pictures from BBB, although they will all be clean, no bare butts!
    Tomorrow we have to go to one of Nora's cousins graduation party.  We went to the actual graduation yesterday evening.  Then Nora will be heading back to lower MI early Monday morning.  BUT, and that is an important but, she will be turning around in about 2 weeks and coming back up here, and that time it will be to stay!  I almost cannot believe that this time has finally come.  Almost 7 months of phone calls and staring at her picture, punctuated by our occasional face to face visits.  We made it, time to reap the full rewards!  Can't think of a better thought to end on.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
May 19-
    My how time flys...I cannot believe that it was 5 days ago since my last entry, seems like only yesterday!  Not much has happened since I last wrote, the grass is even greener, the trees are filling out and the black flies are starting to get nasty.  I must clarify something, when I speak of black flies, I am speaking about the tiny gnat-like bugs that like to bite you near the hairline and back of your legs.  Many locals up here call them noseums.  The noseums I am used to are the ones I would encounter while in Florida with my family.  They truly were so small that you could not see them, but you could sure feel where they had bit you.  The noseums or black flies are big enough to be seen and certainly be felt.  I have yet to be officially bit by one, but have had to dig a few out of my ear, which is always a special treat.  For some reason, they also like to fly directly into your ear, and don't seem to be too shy about continuing on inside if you do not get to them right away.  The only good things about the black flies are that they do not like bug dope, cannot handle the wind and usually disappear for the most part by early July.  Everyone talks so much about the misquito and how it could be classified as the "UP state bird", but so far, I have yet to experience a bad misquito season.  I must add that I am seldom in the bush at sunset or sunrise, but to me, the misquito problem is bigger down south where I came from than up here.  Now watch, this summer we will be swarmed with the little buggers!
    In the last journal, I spoke a bit about the flooding in our immediate area, but there was a catastrophic event that took place in Marquette County and the city of Marquette.  For those of you that check other UP based web sites, I am sure you heard all about it and maybe some of the others that only frequent my site for UP info heard about it.  The event did make the national news.  What I am talking about is an earthen dike giving way at the Silver Lake basin.  Before I go on, I can explain that the there is a river in Marquette County called the Dead River.  It starts in the Huron Mountains, about 30 miles to the east of Marquette and about 15 miles north of Champion.  Along the river, there are several dams, which thus create lakes, or storage basins.  I am not sure of the total number of dams on the river, but I counted at least 4.  The dam that creates the Silver Lake basin is the second largest and created a lake that was probably at least about 700 acres, maybe more.  Early last week, after all the heavy rains, a dike on the Silver Lake basin gave way and a torrent of water rushed down stream.  I have some aerial photos of the damage done.  They are all courtesy of the City of Marquette's Public Service Announcement website.  I am not totally sure if it is ok for me to use them here, so if I find out that I cannot, they will be removed.  There are many more on their site and you can go to that site to view all of them.  The first shot I "borrowed" from their site is of the dam at the Silver Lake Basin.  As you can see, it held up just fine.  You also get a feel for how much water was drained from the basin in that shot.  The next shot is of the general location where the dike was breached and the washout just down stream.  Here is one last shot of the water leaving the Silver Lake basin.  Not too much damage or destruction just yet, but the Silver Lake basin in pretty much wilderness area.  The first man made object it encountered was county road 573 and it appears to not have had much trouble taking that out.  Here is another shot of the damage done down stream of the blow out, but upstream of the Hoist Dam.
    The flood of water then encountered the Dead River storage basin, which is created by the Hoist Dam, about 6 miles west of Marquette.  That dam also held, but there had to have been some very tense hours as the water rose and soon started piling over that dam.  Had that dam given out, it would have been a disaster that not even Hollywood could have dreamt of.  A good portion of the city of Marquette could have been taken out with that rush of water and there most certainly would have been loss of life.  As it stands, I believe there was no loss of life (except for any wild life that might have been caught in the flood) and I have not even heard of any injuries.  There was some pretty serious property damage done at the Dead River storage basin, with lots of lakeside homes and camps flooded.  Here is one of the more fortunate ones.  As mentioned, there are several more dams on the river and the next one in line was the McClure Dam and storage basin, about 4 miles west of Marquette.  It is a much smaller dam and basin that the previous two, but still very important that it held.  Here is a shot of the turbulent water down stream of the McClure.  The flood was far from over in creating damage, especially as it encountered the north end of the city of Marquette and all the infrastructure there.  This is a shot of country road 550, the main drag north to Big Bay.  The washed out bridge on the right is the old road that was being used as a bike path.  That bridge held, but the one that carries Lakeshore Blvd. over the Dead River did not.  That road is the one that will take you north to Presque Isle Park.  That road runs parallel with the lake shore line and that is where the damage to man made objects stopped, but all the silt and debris carried down with the floodwaters filled the upper harbor and boating is not allowed there for the time being.
    Another problem caused by the flooding and one that might outlast many of the other problems is the Presque Isle Power Plant was flooded.  It sits just upstream of the Lakeshore Blvd. bridge that was featured in the last shot.  So it had to be shut down and remains shut down.  That means that the UP lost a very important electrical power generating facility and according to the new media up here, much of the UP is flirting with rolling brownouts due to the load on the other power plants.  In addition, the Cleveland Cliffs mine in Marquette County was shut down and most of it's employees laid off because it got it's power from the Presque Isle Power Plant.  The power plant is expected to have 2 of it's 9 generators back up in about 30 days, and the power companies up here are all rushing backup generators to the area to help take some of the load off of the existing ones.  It will be interesting to see if our electric bills goes up because of this.
    So other than that, not much has been going on up here!  I meant to take a shot of the Laurium Glacier on my way back from the bank today, but I forgot my camera.  But trust me, it is still hanging in there.  I would say that it has at least a week left, perhaps a bit longer.  So far about half the field has been eliminated and more will fall before it finally gives in to the sun and warming temps.  I will have to start making daily checks on it soon though, so stay tuned!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
May 14-
    This will be a short one for sure, but I did want to get out a journal, as today is the 4 year anniversary of me moving up here.  In fact, it was about 4 years ago to the minute that I pulled the moving truck into the driveway and began the exciting, but laborious task of unloading the biggest moving truck that U-Haul has available!  I did manage to get the truck fully unloaded, with the help of my dad and we both collapsed and ordered a pizza from the Loading Zone II.  In some ways it seems like more than 4 years, but in other ways it seems like much less.  I guess it can be like that for anything: jobs, relationships, careers!  The weather is not too different from what it was like 4 years ago, clear blue skies, temps in the upper 60's to low 70's, light winds and low humidity.  A perfect 10 in my book.  We had similar conditions yesterday and look to see the same for the rest of this week and into the weekend.  I could actually go for 3 months of this stuff, with maybe some rain overnight from time to time.  If that were the case, I would always be excited for summer.  Unless I am planning on going swimming, you can keep the temps between 65 and 75 and the dewpoints in the 40's or 50's.  Perhaps the Keweenaw will see a cool summer this summer.  The past three sure have been hot ones, especially last year.  At any rate, the weather has been absolutely perfect.  I washed the truck inside and out yesterday, removing a seasons worth of stamp sand accumulation from the floors.  Today I am going to go and play my first round of golf, so that is why I am racing to get this done and also why I know it will be a short one.
    I guess the nice stretch of weather we are having is our reward for enduring what we did this past Sunday and Monday morning.  As I wrote in the past journal, the weather Sunday was very nasty.  It poured rain all day and we had steady winds of 35 mph. with gusts to the upper 50's.  I picked up 2.35" of rain from Sunday morning through Monday morning.  That on top of the .35" we had on Friday really caused some flooding problems.  I am sure that many of you who read my journal also check some of the other web sources of info on what is going on up here and already heard about the flooding, but for those of you who did not hear, I guess I can capsulize things.  Here in the valley, things were not too bad.  The Traprock did rise rapidly Sunday night, going up about 5-6 feet in less than 12 hours.  It did crest about a foot above flood stage, but thankfully that is below the level were the flooding becomes pretty serious.  I guess all the years of flooding in the past have trained folks as to where they should have structures and where they should not.  Persons in Baraga county were not so fortunate.  The region picked up 5" of rain over the weekend and I would not be surprised if the higher terrain in the Huron Mountains saw even more than that.  That caused the Linden creek to overflow it's banks, that caused the local drainage system in L'Anse to become overwhelmed and flooding occurred in sections of the downtown area.  3 feet of water covered the high school football field and a road in the downtown area was washed out as a culvert washed out below it.  There were also many road washouts in the rural areas, so many that L'Anse schools were canceled Monday.  Here in Houghton and Keweenaw counties, there were a few washouts.  One of the more notable ones occurred on M 26 where the road cross the Garden City creek.  We have returned to normal in most cases, the Traprock is back down below flood stage as it the Sturgeon and most of the other creeks.
    The rain sure did help ease the fire danger and the grass is growing, I'll probably have to make my first pass with the mower in a few days.  The trees are starting to fill out.  Not a lot, but many of the buds have been broken and there is a hint of green on the hills.  In not too long, the trees will be all filled out and summer will officially be here.
    With the beautiful weather, it has really been a challenge to be in the wood working shop in my basement, but I do have a project to finish in the next week, so I have been forcing myself down into the dungeon to slave over the kitchen hutch.  Actually, it is not that bad at all, but it is still pretty cool down there.  The basement is actually a very comfortable place to be in the heart of the summer, but right now it is a bit chilly, especially since I am wearing shorts and t shirts because it is so warm above ground.  I was asked if I would share some shots of my shop and thought that I could grant that request.  It is probably a good idea to have a photographic record of all that is down there anyway, just in case something happens.  So I took about 8 shots and will share them with you, it is a bit messy right now, as I am in the middle of a project, but I guess it will present that "used" look!  I am fortunate to have a large basement and I make use of almost all of it for my shop.  This is the most space I have had for my shop ever and the only thing I would change would be to allow access to the outside via a set of doors in the foundation wall.  Plus, I would like to do away with the support columns, or at least move a few of them around to afford me more room around my tablesaw.  Other than that, and the fact that the windows are up above my head, I am very happy with it.  Here is a look at the overall layout, taken from the bottom of the stairs.  In the far left of the picture, you can just make out the wood storage area.  That is where I store the wood for future projects as well as any left over from previous projects.  Here is a shot of the wood storage area, it can hold about 200 board feet of hardwood and about 3-5 sheets of 4 x 8 plywood, depending on the thickness.
    Just in front of of the wood storage area are tree of my tools used to dimension the wood, or cut it and trim it to size.  Those are the Delta 10" table saw (with biesmeyer fence), my jointer (not a Delta as mentioned in the ask John, but a Grizzly) and the Delta 12" portable planer.  The other tool used to cut and form the wood to it's proper dimension is the Ryobi sliding compound miter saw (SCMS).  That can been seen off in the distance in the previous shots and the next two shots provide a better look at it.  The next shot is of my free standing workbench.  Sitting on top of the workbench is part of the hutch that I am working on.  It is a frame and panel piece of one of the ends, all glued up, clamped and drying.  Below the table top is the oscillating spindle sander.  That tool is used to sand curves on a piece.  It does not get used a lot, but when it does, it is a very handy tool to have.  In the background you can see the SCMS and the tool benches on either side of it.  The benches on either side also house most of my hand tools, both powered and non powered and also lend support to the SCMS when I have long pieces to cut.  In this shot you get a better view of the SCMS station and can also see a good example of my central dust collection.  Building custom furniture creates a lot of dust and wood chips and I have a machine that sucks air at the rate of 600 cubic feet per minute.  The wood working machines are all hooked up to that dust collector via galvanized heating duct work and flexible plastic tubing.  I can then use gates in the tubing to block off sections of the tubing to allow the suction from the dust collector to be concentrated on the tool I am using.  Some dust still gets by the dust collector, but it does capture about 80-90% from each tool.  There is a saying among woodworkers that you can never have too many clamps.  I'd have to say I can agree with that statement.  There were a few times when I ran out of clamps during the production of the last project.  With 21 drawers to glue up and clamp, my supply of clamps was not enough.  The last two shots are of tools that I use to either shape the dimensioned lumber or create the indentations or protrusions (rabbits, dados, mortises, tennons, dovetails) that help the two pieces join together and become one.  I use very few fasteners in my work.  By fasteners, I mean nails or screws.  Over time, both nails and screws will pull out, while a properly formed mortise and tennon joint can last forever, or at least the life of the piece.  The project I am building at the moment will completed and the only screws will be used to hold the top on as well as the drawer slides and pulls.  All other joints will be wood to wood and held in place with woodworking glue.  At any rate, here is my homemade router table, with the dovetail jig hanging above it.  In this shot I show the last of my three stationary tools, the bandsaw, drill press and hollow chisel mortiser, plus a very full garbage can!
    So that is my shop.  I am just about done with the construction of the hutch.  I hope to be done with the construction this weekend and get onto the painting, so that I can be done by the time Nora arrives for her brief visit Memorial Day weekend.  I see that I am out of time and just about out of pictures.  The last shot I have is of the Laurium Glacier, taken this afternoon.  Still looks like about 2 weeks left.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
May 11-
    Happy Mother's Day all you moms!  Hope all of you have a nice and relaxing day today and that your sons, daughters and husbands all wait on you hand and foot!  I believe that my mom might be spending this day without any of her children.  I am up here, my older brother has to work and my sister lives in Oklahoma, so that just leaves my younger brother, who lives in Chicago and has no reason not to be up here, but we'll see!  Anyway, we have gone from a "very high" fire danger to a flood watch.  It has been pouring rain since about 2 am this morning and my rain gauge is already over flowed the 1" measurer and is working on the 2-11" container.  I do not have any worries that it will over flow the 11" container, but it will be interesting to see how much rain falls.  Not only is in rainy, but it is very windy.  The winds are howling out of the north at 35 mph, with gusts to 50 mph.  If it were not so nasty, I would likely head to the north shore to take a look at the angry lake, but it is really so nasty out there that in a matter of seconds I would be soaked to the bone.  Some things are just not worth it!
    The power flickered a few times and I have a feeling that some folks lost their power for a little bit early this afternoon, as the radio station I was listening to stopped broadcasting for a period this afternoon.  Thankfully the power did not go out for long enough that I had to go around and reset all the digital clocks in the house!  The weather has certainly kept us inside all day today, the dogs are really testing their bladders!  It has not slowed down the birds to the feeders much though.  I just looked out and saw 7 out there.  I guess they need to eat.  It's been interesting though, a gust of wind will hit and really give them a ride on the hanging feeders.  I actually did see a gust of wind blow one bird off the little house type feeder at the top.  I'm not sure if they like the weather all that much though, as they sure are fighting at the feeders more then they normally do.  Perhaps the foul weather has them in a bad mood as well.  We did have halfway decent weather yesterday and I was able to get the rest of my spring yard work done.  I had a few leaves to rake from the front bushes and then fertilized the lawn.  I wanted to get the fertilizer down ahead of all this rain, but I bet I will be cutting it by Wednesday!
    I found out that the Calumet Golf Course opened up Friday and had thought about getting up there for a round yesterday, but got too busy with my yard work.  Plus it was a bit chilly in the afternoon, so it would not have been the best weather for golfing.  It looks like the weather will be improving a bit by the end of this week, so I guess I should get the clubs up out of the basement and clean them up to get ready for the season.  Nearly impossible to think about golf on a day like today though.
    Not much else going on up here.  Baileys is continuing to recover nicely.  She has gone on some short walks and the required time for her to keep the incision clean and dry is up and she can also run now, so the first nice day we have, I will likely take them to the beach as swimming is the best exercise for her.  On Friday, I finally finished the project I have been working on for the past 6 or 7 weeks.  I suppose it is not really that big of a deal to all of you, but working on it has been such a constant element in my everyday life for the past several weeks, that I figured I may as well share it all with you.  Plus I guess I just feel the need to show off my handy work.  So without any further fan fair, here is my latest creation.  I now have a place to store all the tools that have been floating around the garage and the house.  I think it turned out well, but it was also a ton more work than I had expected.  The construction was about the work load that I thought it would be, but the finishing, or painting in this case, was a lot more work.  I have never built anything with so many drawers and I do not plan to ever again!  20 drawers means 20 drawer fronts, 20 drawer backs, 40 drawer sides, 20 drawer bottoms-  all of which needed to be primed and painted mind you, 40 drawer slides and 20 drawer pulls.  Oh, and that also meant having to fit and mount 20 drawers!  So if you got tired of reading 20 drawer whatever, just think of what it must have been like to actually do all that!  The neat thing is I now see it every time I pull into or out of my garage, plus I have the satisfaction of knowing I built it myself.  The other nice thing about building it myself it the fact that I can customize it.  For instance, the right top drawer in the bottom chest is made to hold 1 gallon jugs like antifreeze and 2 cycle motor oil.  As a side note, the chain on the left hand side is not part of the chest, it belongs to the shelves in the background.  I did not rest too long though, I have already started in on the next project, a hutch for the kitchen.  That too will be customized to hold the garbage can, the dogs food, treats and medicine as well as the microwave and bread maker.  Freeing up some kitchen counter space and hiding thing like the garbage.  Then it is off to the bedroom where I will build a stand for the bed that will also house some drawers for cloths storage.  If that were not enough, I will also be building some storage in the basement for some more stuff.  I'll make this house suitable for 2 humans and two dogs to occupy yet!
    Well, I guess I have come to that part of the story where I have no more story.  I apologize for not having much to say, but with the weather and Baileys still recovering, we are just not doing that much exploring.  That will change for sure in just a few weeks, as Baileys will be recovered pretty nicely and the three musketeers will have become the four of hearts and I am sure that a lot of exploring will be going then.  Nora is looking forward to seeing things that I have talked about in my journals that she did not see when living up here and she said she has some places to show me that I have not been to yet.  The future sure looks good to me!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
May 8-
    Watching all the horrible weather elsewhere in the Midwest as well as the Plains, I feel very fortunate that we have had some really nice weather up here.  Almost too nice.  How can it be too nice you ask?  Well, the Keweenaw has two main fire seasons.  One is in the autumn, when all the leaves come off the trees and before the snows fall and cover them up.  All that dry leaf matter on the ground can make the forest like a tinderbox.  The second fire season is in the spring, when all the snow melts and exposes those leafs from the fall.  Usually there is enough rain in the spring to keep the forest from becoming too dry and then by about the end of May, there has been enough new growth and all that green plant matter causes the fire danger to drop significantly.  Occasionally we have a dry spring and then the woods are like a tinderbox once again.  This spring is just such a dry one.  Already there have been several small fires in the Keweenaw and quite honestly, I consider it to be a bit of a miracle that there has not been a large fire somewhere in the UP yet.  On my way back up from southern WI last weekend, I passed some DNR field stations, each one has a little sign designating the fire risk in the area and as I got into the UP, they all read "Very High".  I had never seen that condition before.  I have seen "Low", "Moderate" and "High", but never "Very High".  The good news is that it looks like a bit of rain will arrive by tomorrow afternoon or evening and then a bigger rain event looks to occur Sunday and into Monday.  So if that forecast verifies, then our fire risk will drop significantly for at least a few days.  It does not take long for things to dry out this time of the year.  The hardwood trees are still bare and the sun is very strong, so in just 3-4 days, a soaking wet ground cover in the woods can become tinder dry once again.  Hopefully we can get to about the 20th or so of May and things will be greening up enough to drop the risk a bit, regardless of the rain we get.
    This morning, I decided to go into my past journals and see what was going on up here last year at this time.  I had forgotten that on this very day last year we had a bit of a snow storm.  I picked up about 2.5" from that storm, but I do remember the higher elevations picking up 5-6" because we were all hoping the Calumet Golf Course would open up in a few days and all that wet snow set things back almost a week.  I don't think the course is open just yet, but I bet it will not be long.  A few patches of snow were still up on the course last weekend, but the rest of the course was pretty dry.  With temps in the 50's and 60's and lots of sunshine all this week, I bet things are just about ready to go.  All the other courses in the region are open, including the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.  It will be nice to get out and smack them around.  This is actually a fun time of the year to play.  The trees are still bare, so that makes things a bit easier to recover from a shank, the air temp is not hot, so it is usually pretty comfortable to play and there are no bugs out yet.
    I am still waiting to get my good camera back.  I sent it back in before I left to go south for Baileys surgery and got worried that it would return before I got back.  The UPS will many times leave the package on my front stoop if I do not come to the door and I was worried that it would rain and soak the camera, so I called them to say not to ship the camera until May 1.  Well, I think that since I asked for the the delay in shipping, they forgot to even get on to fixing it.  I called today and it was not ready.  The guy sounded very apologetic and told me he would see to it that it got on the fast track to being fixed.  It will be nice to have that cam back.  Not that the old one does a bad job, but the new one has the zoom and does take better pictures.  I suppose that is a pretty weak excuse for only having one picture to share with you tonight.  Although the other excuse is that we are not doing any exploring in the woods due to Baileys still recovering.  I suppose we could just hop in the truck and do some exploring and take some shots that way, but it just does not seem the same as walking through the woods and being up close and personal with the environment.  At any rate, the one shot I have to share with you all is of the Laurium Glacier.  It was actually taken this past Tuesday afternoon, so I am sure some melting has gone on since then, but it still was pretty big!
    Not much else has been going on up here.  I have been busy finishing up a rather major woodworking project.  I started it about 6 weeks ago and with the exception of when I was down south, have been putting at least an hour or so into it.  I even put some time into it when Nora was here and she even helped a bit.  I plan to put the finishing touches on it tomorrow and will take a shot of it and reveal what it is in a future journal.  Need to keep the suspense up and keep you all coming back!  Once I finish that, I have two more I need to get done in the next 5 weeks.  It will be 5 weeks from today that Nora will arrive and those two other projects are designed to give us some more storage space.  They are not nearly as involved as the one I am just finishing up and I may actually be able to finish the construction of one of them by the end of next week, then put the finish on it in a few days and get on to the other one.  Baileys will likely be able to start doing some meaningful walking in a few weeks and I do not want to have to be in the shop when we could be walking in the woods or on the beach.  Others up here are doing a lot of yard work.  Last autumns color change and subsequent leaf drop came about 10-14 days late and the snows came early, at least the accumulating snows that then stick around for a while did and the result was that many yards were not able to be cleared of the fallen leaves before the snows came and stayed.  If memory serves me correctly, I had one day to get my yard cleared.  It is not a big job, but I was able to see that the weather was going to allow me just that one day to get them raked and hauled to the road so that the village crew could come and haul them off.  Many others in my neighborhood did not take advantage of that brief time afforded to us and are doing their spring and autumn yard work now.  The poor village workers really have a lot of piles of yard waste to come and get, but everyone's yard does look nice!
    Well, I guess that just about does it for another time.  It is really great to be back.  Yesterday evening as I was talking to Nora on the phone, I was sitting in my bedroom with the hounds and we had the sliding glass door open and the screen door closed.  All was quiet, except for the chirping of some birds and some singing of some frogs in the Hammell Creek.  It was not late, probably about 8 pm.  But that tranquil moment reminded me of how much I love this area.  That was not an unusual moment, in fact, I bet if I went and sat by that open door right now, I would experience a similar setting- but that does not make it any less special.  Especially after being further south where it seems like there is always some kind of noise being made.  Whether it be cars going down the highway, a lawnmower, leaf blower, boat or maybe even an airplane, it seems almost as if people down there can't live without some sort of man made noise going on in the background.  It's not that I am against a persons right to be able to do the activity that makes the noise, not at all.  But it is so nice and so relaxing to be able to just sit and hear nothing but a few chirping birds or singing frogs.  I am really looking forward to taking the hounds (and soon Nora) into the woods and being the only ones for miles and miles.  That is what it is all about and one thing that makes this place so special.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
May 4-
    Home Sweet Home!  Land of rock hard, green bananas!  It is very nice to be back.  I came to the realization of what a stress free life I live up here.  I mean I do have some work related stress, but I guess after 12 years of that I am used to it and it does not have much of an impact.  However, the stress of Baileys surgery and being away from my main office was really hard on me.  I don't think I have taken as much pepto bismol, tums and aspirin in the past year as I took last week.  My parents should be sainted for putting up with me!
    The trip home went well and Baileys is doing very, very good.  She is putting more and more pressure on the hip that was operated on and is scooting around the house just fine.  It is just amazing to me that she can be using it so much so soon after the surgery and even using it at all, based on what they did.  The doctors did say that she could use it as much as possible and actually said the more she uses it the better.  I also have to do some physical therapy with her.  She does not like that so much, neither did I when I had to have it done, but it is important.  She cannot go very far walking right now, so Burt has to make some sacrifices right now.  Burt and I did sneak out for a short walk this morning and I will try to take him on some more, but Baileys does not like to be left alone at all.  As I mentioned, she is the life of the party and really has to be involved.  Burt is more of the laid back type and is really the sanity glue that holds us all together.  I am just so glad that her recovery from this operation was so much better than when she had her knee done.
    I really do not have a whole lot to say, but figured I would let you all know that we made it back safe and sound.  I was a little surprised to still see a few patches of snow on the ground on my way up.  Most of the snow is gone, but a few piles still remain, but only in the heavily shaded areas.  When I left, there was still a bit of snow in my front yard, but that is now gone.  Also, on my way down, there was still a bit of snow in the woods down by Toivola and Twin Lakes, but that was mostly all gone on my way back.  I will be getting up to take a look at the Laurium Glacier very soon and will have a shot for all of you.
    Today I went from winter mode to summer mode, draining the gas out of the snow thrower and filling up the lawn mower.  I did not want to jump the gun with the snow thrower.  A storm can always sneak in at the end of April and give us enough snow that it has to be moved.  I suppose that even in May it is possible, but I will take my chances.  I did fire up the lawn mower, but will not have to use it for at least a week.  The grass is greening, but not growing much.  I think we actually need some rain and warmer temps before we get too much growing of the grass.  The rains look to come this week, but not much warming.  Also part of the switch from winter mode to summer mode was the taking down of the bush protectors and the snow station.  The bush protectors held all winter, so it looks like after three years of various levels of failures, I finally have found success.  In place of the snow station, the bird feeder is up.  No birds have found it yet, but that should not take too long.  Hopefully we can get the color show going, with indigo buntings, yellow finches and that little red one too.
    In just 5 more weeks, Nora will be packing he bags for the move up.  I am starting to get pretty excited for that.  I think that now that Baileys surgery is over and she is doing well, I can focus on Nora's pending arrival for good.  I think the next 5 weeks will go pretty fast.  I actually have quite a bit to do and with the weather improving, we will be getting out as soon as Baileys can do some meaningful walking.  I went up and took a look at the Calumet golf course.  It looks like it is just about ready.  The greens need to green up just a bit and also look like they need a trimming, but I did not see any water in the favored wet spots, so it will probably not be too long.  Portage Lake, L'Anse and the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge are all open, so I hear.  I forget when opening day was up in Calumet last year, but I think it was pretty late, due to the cold and wet May we had.
    Well, I am afraid that I am out of things to say and I suppose that is just as well, as all the fresh air and activity I had today has made me sleepy.  So until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
May 1-
    Well, this is definately a first!  A new month and I did not start a new page.  However, as most of you know, I am on the road, in my "branch office" and my resources are a little more limited.  I could actually do all that is needed to change months and all, but my time is a bit limited and I figured when I get back to my "corporate headquarters" I will get things all straightened out.
    As you might have also realized, my plans to do the journal where I describe my move up and experiences of making the transition to the UP life will also be put on hold.  Truth is, soon after I arrived, I began to get quite stressed out about Baileys.  First the pre-op jitters, then dealing with the thought of her sitting alone in the kennel at the vet the night before the operation, then the operation itself and then the wait to go and get her.  She was operated on Tuesday afternoon and I was able to go and get her Wednesday afternoon.  When I firwst saw her Wednesday, she was in a lot of pain.  I could just see it in her face and in her mannerism, even her front paws were in a constant clinch.  She did a little better when she got back to my parents place, but was still doing a lot of crying.  I was all prepared for a long night of trying to make her comfortable and about 8:30 she climbed up on the couch, fell asleep and did pretty well until 3:30.  That is only about a little over an hour from when I have to get up and work, so I did not miss much sleep at all.  She was in pain and crying off and on from about 3:30 this morning until about 8:30 this morning and then like magic, she has been doing excellent since about 8:30.  I can see that she has discomfort, but not what I would call pain.  She gets around fine and is already starting to bear weight on the leg.  As I type, she is sound asleep on the couch and it looks like we are over the hump.
    I was planning on having total hip replacement done to her, that is where they remove the ball of the femur and replace it with a metallic one and they also line the socket of the hip with a plastic cup.  However, I was told of complications with that surgery and also told about a far less troublesome surgery where they just remove the head of the femur and let the muscles build in and stabilize the joint.  It seems impossible that the joint would be any use not having the femur connected to the hip, but I was told that the dogs do remarkably well, even being able to run.  Since there are almost no complications I opted for that route.  She may still have to have the other hip done, but only time will tell that.  For now we will concentrate on the recovery from this surgery.  She is basically free to do anything she wants.  The more exercise the better, that way the muscles will not get stiff and will also build in around the joint that is no longer a joint.  I guess I never have to worry about her dislocating her left hip anymore!
    One thing is for sure, she is truly the life of the party between the three of us.  Anyone that has met her will agree, that she really is the most social and most fun loving.  Not to say that Burt and I are sticks in the mud, but when compared to Baileys, we cannot even hold a candle to her.  It is wonderful to have the life of the party back and to have our "family" whole again!
    We will be returning to the UP on Saturday and are looking forward to it.  Sorry I am going to cut this short for tonight, but am sort of hitting the wall from all the weeks activities and feel the need to hit the hay.
Good night from southern Wisconsin!
-JD-
 
 
 
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