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July 29-
    It is so nice to sit down to write my journal and have a palette full of colorful things to share with you all. Not that you all are guaranteed to be awe struck by what I have to say and there are a few things that I would rather not have to think about again, but at least I do not have to struggle with coming up with something to write. In all honesty, there is only one thing that I would rather not have to relive, but it looks like I will have to actually go through it all again this week, so writing about it should not be too bad.
    So what is it that I would like to avoid? Pretty easy guess for most of you I bet- the heat and humidity. I realize that some of you might wonder what I am talking about. I see were Cleveland only hit 80 degrees in the past 7 days and Chicago and Detroit only managed an 85. We did a whole lot better than that. We had sort of an upside pattern last week, which allowed many areas to our south to be cooler and less humid than we were. In fact, on Tuesday afternoon I noticed that we were cooler and less humid than just about every reporting station in Florida! Not too many times we ever have that occurring. We were in upper 80's with a dewpoint of 75! which led to a heat index in the 100's. If that were not hot enough we hit 91 at the Houghton County airport  for a new record high, with my weather station reporting a 92 on Wednesday. Dewpoints on Wednesday were in the 70's too. Nasty, nasty stuff.
    What was even more incredible than our temps on Wednesday were the temps way north of us. There is a little reporting station in far northern Ontario on the shores of Hudson Bay called Peawanuck and it hit 97 degrees there on Wednesday! Now keep in mind that this is a station that is closer to the arctic circle than it is to most of you. Plus it sits on the shores of Hudson Bay, which just got rid of it's ice a few weeks ago and sits in the mid 30's for water temp right now. It is also home to Canada's Polar Bear Provincial Park. I was not able to get any climatological weather records for this station, so I do not know if this was a record. I think it is very safe to say that this was a record for the day and could be for the month and there is a pretty good chance that this was an all time record high for this locale. It just does not get that hot up there ever. A day later temps were back down to where they should be in the 50's and just a week before temps were in the 30's.
    In keeping with the weather theme, I can report that we had not a drop of rain in the past 7 days and actually have not had a drop of rain since July 14th when we got 1/2" and that is pretty much all the rain we have had for the month. Unless a miracle happens this month will go down in the books as being below average in precipitation and that will make it the 14th month in a row with that distinction. Amazingly things are still pretty green up here and there have not been any fires (at least any that have been picked up by the local news outlets), but some of the trees are showing signs of stress. I have a few which the leaves are starting to wilt and I have seen a few splashes of color in a few. I know this may sound silly, but this summer has been so void of rain, it is actually hard to picture what rain looks like.
    It has been amazing to see showers and storms roll through northern MN and southern Ontario, hit the big lake and just fizzle out- only to redevelop across northern WI. Our next chance for rain does not look to arrive until Wednesday night and even that event does not look to bring any real meaningful rains. Add to that the fact that we look to get hot again early this week and I cannot imagine that somewhere a fire will not flare up. It actually looks like the temps this week could be hotter than we had last week, although the humidity may not be as high. That is an OK trade for me. I really cannot handle the humidity. I do not like the heat at all either, but it is the humidity that is worse. I actually had headaches almost all week last week and my summer SAD was in full gear. We have some beach visits planned this week, so hopefully that will be able to keep my SAD in check.
    I can say that I am glad that the heat happened this year at the end of July and not last year. On the days it was so hot this year we were actually doing the roofing on the cabin last year. It got warm on one day, but was nothing like what we had last year. Had we had temps in the 90's and dewpoints in the 70's I do not think we would have even tried to do any roofing. No need to force things and end up passing out and falling off the roof. I do remember a few days after we were done with the roof we hit 98 degrees with a dewpoint of 76! We really lucked out with the weather while building last summer.
    We had planned to go boating this Wednesday. Nora took the day off, but it was just too hot and humid. I spent a lot of time indoors which I think really leads to my bouts of SAD. I really hate not being able to go outside. I mean I can go out, but get to hot and miserable, I scurry back into the air conditioned comfort of the indoors. I do take Burt for a swim in the afternoons, but then spend the rest of the day inside, except for a dip in the pool. This week I think we will be taking Burt to the big lake rather than the usual inland lake we usually go to. Nora, Burt and I went to the big lake both yesterday and today and had a blast. Temps right on the lake shore were in the 70's (vs. the 80's inland) and the water was pretty nice. So nice that I actually braved going in. I did not have my suit, so I did not go for a full swim, but had I been wearing my swimsuit I would have! The water is so clear too. It is so nice to have such a huge body of water near by and have it be so crystal clear and clean. Burt's fur is so soft after swimming in the big lake too.
    Water levels are still way down, but the beach's features have adjusted to it. The last time we were down in that spot there were just lots of rocks along the shore line and now the sand has filled things in nicely. What is interesting is that when the water level of Lake Superior was at it's normal levels we could not even get to the area of beach we were at today as it would have required crawling across rocks that were submerged in the water. So I guess that is one good thing about the lake being so low.
    Today while at the beach there was a strange thing going on. There were all these tiny blobs of a jelly like substance floating on in the water and washed up on the beach. I am not positive what they were, but guessed them to be fish eggs of some sort. Not sure how they got there or if they are a regular occurrence. I have never encountered them in all my visits to the beach before. They did not smell at all and you could not see them in the water, just feel them if you ran your hand through the water. I guess it will remain a mystery for now.
    In spite of the heat and dryness, Nora and I have been able to keep things growing around here. She has been picking tomatoes for about a week now and also has picked some peppers. The cucumbers are just about ready for picking as well. What makes this even more amazing is that Nora's "garden" this year is actually all planted in pots. We hope next year to put in some raised vegetable beds on the septic field, but for this year everything is in pots and many of the plants were started from seed. Thanks to a lot of watering, the lawn is still green too. I have not seen the Lake Linden lawn in about 2 weeks, but can guarantee it is as brown as sand. That poor lawn, this is the second summer in a row in which it has been subjected to a severe drought.
    My final picture to share with you today is for the entomologists out there. We have all these tiny bugs crawling around up here and they have been out since late May. At first glance, they almost look like a tick, but have only 6 legs not 8. They do not bite and I am not sure what they even eat as they do not seem to be harming any plants. I do not even remember seeing them elsewhere up here before, but they are all over the place here where we did the clearing for the building on the property. They do find their way into the cabin and are not a big problem because they do not bite or eat anything, but it is still not fun to have them in the house. It seems like they are some sort of a beetle or perhaps an aphid, but I am at a loss. So any confirmed identifications would be nice.
    Nora and I made some more wood this week. Actually, she was driving home from work on Friday and saw a sign for free wood. Someone is doing some clearing of their land for a driveway and build spot and must not have any use for the trees he is cutting down. So I joined here down there with Old Blue Friday afternoon and we loaded it up. We had an almost full load, but could hold a few more logs, so I decided to back the truck up to another pile at the back of the clearing. I got about 20 feet from the pile when there was a "pop" and then a hissing sound. Something (most likely a branch) found it's way into the sidewall of the passenger rear tire and put a hole in it. Not what I was hoping for at that specific moment. You see I keep the spare in the back of the truck and it was buried under all the logs we had just loaded. Plus it would be not be safe to jack up the truck with all the wood in the bed. So Nora and I unloaded all the wood that we had just loaded up. I got the truck jacked up and the lug nuts off, but the rim was frozen onto the hub by rust. Just then a neighbor dropped by to check in on us and saw my predicament. He was able to go back to his place and came back with a sledge hammer and some WD-40 and I was able to persuade the rim off the hub and finish the tire change. We tossed some of the wood back into the truck and then came home. This morning we went back down and grabbed another full load of wood. Someone else had been in there and took some wood as some of the pieces we took out of Old Blue on Friday and left them were gone today. Hopefully we will be able to get more from this spot as it is easy to get too and the wood pretty good. If not we have several other places to get our wood before winter comes.
    It looks like I am running out of things to write about. We have more heat to get through in the next 3 days and then things look cooler by Thursday and beyond. I am not looking forward to it, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel. We only have 2 more days left in my least favorite month of the year. Also our average daily temps have peaked out and we are on the downswing in that department. It is a slow downswing at first, with our average high going from 77 to 76 on July 25th and will not drop until 75 until August 6th. The pace picks up a bit and by the end of August our average high is 66. The sun is setting sooner and sooner and by the end of August will be setting at about my bedtime. So we still have some heat to get through, perhaps even more than I can forecast at this point, but August is two days away and that is the last month of summer for us.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
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July 22-
    Well, here we go. The heat and humidity are building and it looks like we could be in it for over a week. It does not look to get nasty by the standards most of the Midwest goes by, but for Keweenaw standards it is going to be warm and humid- highs in the mid to upper 80's and dewpoints in the 60's. I really cannot complain as I can probably count the number of days on one hand in which I thought it was too warm or too humid for me and those are some pretty tough standards. No rain fell in the last week either. I watched showers and storms pound much of the Midwest to our south and there is even some stuff rolling through NW Wisconsin right now, but we are dry. We do have a chance for a bit tonight and tomorrow, but even if we do pick up some it does not look to amount to much more than 1/4". So far the woods are still holding up, but some of the trees are showing some signs of stress. If you look real closely, on some of them the leaves are curling a bit. The hot and mainly dry weather this week will only make matters worse and I fear that if we do not get some decent rain in August and early September then the color show this year may be like last years, which was not the best. Many of the trees last year turned early and were not a very vivid color. Those that turned at the regular time were pretty nice, but there were much fewer that turned at the regular time.
    The other thing that I fear is that once it starts raining it may not stop. I am sure that many of you saw the images of all the flooding they had down in TX and OK in June. Some stations in OK set their all time record for consecutive days of rain. Well, it was just a year ago that they were having so many problems in those same areas with wildfires it was so dry. Mother nature sometimes acts that way, rather than gently return precip or temp numbers back to average, she does it with as much speed as she can. I would not be worried about us flooding or having any real problems with excess rain, I would just hate to have to be stuck inside if it rained for weeks and weeks. Oh well, not much I can do other than try and forecast what will happen and then see if it comes true!
    Other than the lack of rain this past week, there has not been too much that has happened up here. Temps were very comfortable. Lots of 70's for highs and even stayed in the 60's for most of the day on Thursday. Thursday morning was even chilly enough that a jacket was needed and then the sun came out and warmed things enough that I did not need a jacket for golf, but it was the second week in a row that I wore a long sleeved shirt and long pants and was perfectly comfortable. Up until this past week Al and I were in first place and I was undefeated. Not that I have been playing exceptionally well, but I have managed to keep a very high handicap and it seems like my opponents have played a rather poor round when they play me. Perhaps I intimidate them!!! This last Thursday I play what I think was my worst round of golf for 9 holes ever. If you factor in my handicap I ended up beating my opponent, but he did end up winning more holes than I. So given the fact that you get some points for beating your opponent on the individual holes and some points for beating them in your overall score, it will be interesting to see how we did. I believe Al beat his opponent in both categories. Next week is our last match of the regular season and then we start the playoffs. I always like when we start the golf playoffs. Not because I like golf playoffs, it just means we are getting that much closer to the end of summer! We are in a different league this year and the playoffs start a lot earlier, so I have to take that into consideration. Usually we were at the end of August when the playoffs started, not the beginning.
    Another sign that the end of summer is not all that far off is the "back to school" sales that are starting to appear in the circulars in the paper. As a kid the back to school sales were sort of like a punch in the stomach. Soon the free time of summer would be ending and it would be back to the grind of school. Nowadays I love the back to school time! Probably second favorite only to late November/early December when the snows start to pile up and stick around up here. I know, I know we still have at least 4 weeks left until most schools will be starting up, but we are in the final week of July and if August goes by as fast as July did, back to school time will be here very quickly!
    I finally got going full steam on one of my projects that I wanted to get done this summer. Probably a good thing as I wanted to have them done before the beautiful autumn weather arrives and like I mentioned in the last paragraph, that is not that far away. Anyway, I don't know why I have been keeping my projects this summer a secret, but since this one is about 95% done, I think I can spill it's beans. It was the railing for the stairs and loft. It's nice to have them done as now we are finally up to code with regards to the safety aspects of the cabin. Not that Nora or I needed them, but it is a good thing to have them there and they do make the room look finished as well. Since I had planned to build them this summer when I had lots of free time I figured I would put the time into them and make them more than some railings just slapped into place. I used lap joints where the rails meet the posts. I also counter sunk and plugged all the lag bolts for the posts and also for the spindles. I still have a few plugs to put in on the spindles, but what I have left will take less than 45 minutes.
    It was fun building them and was really nice to have the shop right here and at ground level. Having the shop in the basement of Lake Linden was nice too, but having to carry everything up and down the stairs was not so much fun. I am not sure if I am going to put a finish coat on them. We did not put any finish on the tongue and groove walls and ceilings in the room that the stairs are in, so the railings would match that wood. I will not be using the railings that much and even when they do get used, unless someone had really dirty hands, they would not likely have much of an impact on the wood. Plus since the wood is inside it technically does not need to be protected from the elements. So I am going to take a wait and see approach on this one. If the railings start to turn an ugly color, then I will sand them down and put a clear protective finish on them. I will only have to sand down the top rail and perhaps the tops of the posts, so it would not be a major job if needed.
    There is another inside job that I plan to get done this week. It was not part of the original 3 I had planned for this summer. I was going to jump into the outside job right after finishing the stair railing, but since it is suppose to be so warm and humid out this week, I figured I would sneak in this other little job this week and enjoy the air conditioning inside. Since this was not part of the original three, I guess I can spill the beans as to what it is. In the upstairs bedroom we have some knee walls that create some storage on both sided of the room. Right now the storage areas are a mess as Nora and I used them to hastily store things we did not know where else to put when we moved in. We also have some left over laminate flooring, so my project for this week will be to clean out the storage areas and put the laminate flooring down. Some of the stuff in the storage areas will go back, but I have a feeling that some will go in the garage sale pile or in the garbage pile. I think that the worst part about that job may very well be the cleaning out part! If the cabin were not brand new, I might be thinking we could find Jimmy Hoffa in one of them! I know that I will be happy to have them done as I hate messes and I hate clutter. I would not go so far as to say I am a neat freak, but I just do not like things to be so disorganized that you do not even know what is in there.
    No other pictures this week. Burt, Nora and I pretty much went to his swimming lake nearby or to the beach and I have shared plenty of those pictures already. Maybe one of these evenings this week we will take the boat out and that for sure will be a picture taking event. Otherwise I fear much of my time will either be spent at my desk, in those two storage areas, at the lake or beach, or in the pool. And you are not getting a picture of me in the pool!
    Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
July 15-
    Another beautiful day in the Keweenaw. Actually, much of the last week was very nice up here. At least if you like cool summer temps. Monday was a little warm, but not too bad, with a high in the low 80's. A front came through on Tuesday and cooled us back down. We still managed to warm to the upper 70's ahead of the front, but then from Wednesday through yesterday temps did not warm any further than the 60's. Thursday was jacket weather all day, with temps in the low 60's and yesterday in the morning, it was cloudy, foggy and there was some drizzle falling and temps were in the 40's. I almost expected to see a few flakes of snow flying, but no such luck and in reality we were not that close, it just felt like it. The front on Tuesday sure meant business. We had a 7 degree temperature drop in 60 minutes and a more impressive 13 degree drop in the dewpoint. Behind the front, the winds kicked up and blew out of the west at 40 mph sustained, with gusts to 52. The only thing missing was the rain- again. We have had so many fronts come through this summer and change conditions dramatically but produce no rain, it almost seems like that is the way it should be! Friday night's and yesterday morning's rain of .58" was the most I have had in over 4 weeks. The last 13 months straight have had sub average precipitation at the Houghton County Airport and so far this July we look to be on pace to make it 14 in a row. Last September we came very close to having average precip for the month, but still fell short. Since June 1 of 2006 we have seen 71% of average precip, which does not sound too bad, but it really is a stretch for most locales in the Midwest to go below 85% or above 115% of average in a 12 month or more time frame. Since June 1 of last year we are down 11" in precip. Really an incredible stretch of dry weather. Hope it start fixing itself this winter!
    With all the dry weather, it amazes me that the woods can still be so green up here. That was taken last Wednesday when it cooled down and we were able to walk the woods on our afternoon adventure. The other reason why we took to the woods was to survey them for any damage done by the strong winds we had Tuesday afternoon. Nothing came down around the cabin and shop and we only had a few small twigs on the driveway, but I figured that at least one tree had to have come down with the way the winds were blowing and Burt and I did manage to find a birch that fell victim to the winds. That was actually not on our property, but not far away either.
    Nora and I took advantage of the cooler temps and low humidity to make some firewood Wednesday evening. That was actually load number two for the evening and also the last load. I am really fortunate to have a wife that does not mind getting out there and getting dirty working like that. While I cut the wood, she loads it into Old Blue. We then both unload it and stack it near the wood boiler. It takes us about 30 minutes to cut, load, haul, unload and stack a load of wood like in that last picture. Of course the hauling part was just from our neighbors next door to our house, but I think that is pretty darn good to be able to get that much done in just 30 minutes time. We really do make a good team out there, she knows just what to do and so do I. We have also had a fair amount of practice at it in the past 3 years.
    I did break down and purchased a new saw. I kept the old one for back up and I am sure it will get it's use. The new one has the same size bar, so it will use the same size chain as the old one too. That way I do not need two different sized sets of chains. The new one has a bit more horsepower, but not a lot. I did not want to get some big honker of a chainsaw as that is just extra weight to have to carry around when we are cutting. The new saw is really nice. Runs great, as a few added features, one of them less vibration, which is nice. So I think we are all set to make wood later this summer and into the autumn. The way I figure it, we will need about 10 loads like the one in the last picture to get us through the winter. I know this sounds funny, but there is kind of a neat sense of pioneering to know that we have to make firewood to be warm this winter. Of course we could just order up some too, but I like the idea of having to go out into the woods to gather wood for the upcoming winter. Just something so basic to the idea.
    Thursday started out a little threatening and I thought that we might be playing golf in some rather unpleasant conditions, but by the afternoon the skies cleared up enough that the sun was out and that helped to warm temps too. I did play in long pants and a long sleeved shirt and never got hot, but at least I did not need a fleece and/or rain jacket. Friday was one of those lazy-bum, do nothing types of days. The weather was pleasant enough to do just about anything and Burt and I did manage to take a walk in the woods. But other than the walk and making dinner, about all I did was to relax. I sure have been doing a lot of that this summer. I guess it is deserved after last summers hustle and bustle, but sometimes I feel guilty about just sitting around- especially when there are some projects to be done.
    Either the guilt or a good nights sleep or both inspired me to get going on one of the projects Saturday and I did manage to get a good start on it. I did a bit more work on it this morning too and am now about 40-45% of the way done on it. With some more inspiration I should be able to get it finished in the next 2-3 days. I will be sure to take some pictures of it when we are all done. I saw "we" because my ever hard working wife has been helping me when I need it too.
    After yesterday's rainy, foggy and cold start, the skies cleared about midday and we did end up with a nice second half of the day. I suppose for folks that like to sleep in, most of the day was nice for them! Anyway, we took advantage of the nice weather yesterday evening to go for a boat ride. I had wanted to go up to Lac La Belle, but it was already about 6 pm and did not feel we had enough time to drive up there, put the boat in the water and have a nice relaxing ride around the lake. So we went up to Gratiot Lake again and this time just took a nice slow and relaxing ride around the entire lake. Nora did most of the driving so that Burt and I could sit in the front and enjoy the view. He seemed to enjoy the boat ride, but is still not 100% comfortable in it- especially when the boat is rocked by the waves. That seems perfectly understandable. He has not spent much time on the boat, so it is pretty much a new thing for him. He is not so stressed that I think it is bad for him and want to take the next several rides soon enough that he becomes familiar with the boat and we can maybe spend an afternoon on it.
    The ride around the lake was lots of fun and also quite relaxing. I have always found boating to be either relaxing or stimulating. I have never been frightened, even while out on Lake Michigan in our 24 foot boat in 7-10 foot waves. That was stimulating, but I was not frightened. I am not saying I could not be frightened, but it would take some really scary conditions to do it. Anyway, yesterday was relaxing, with the sun shinning and a fresh breeze putting a light chop on the lake. There is a mix of homes on the lake. Some rustic camps and some rather large homes. Only half of the lake is developed and the other is privately owned and has been turned to a conservancy, so I doubt that any development will be going on there. Beyond the shores of the northern end of the lake you can see Mount Bohemia, with Mount Houghton tucked in behind it. To the northwest are the highlands of the Keweenaw Spine, including Gratiot Mountain.
    We finished up making our ride around the lake and got the boat loaded onto the trailer just in time. A line of showers, the tops of which were visible in that last shot off in the distance, came through not long after we were driving home. Not a downpour, but still enough that it would not have been fun to get caught in. We took in the entire shoreline of the lake and I found some potential fishing spots with the depth finder. Some really crazy bottom terrain on that lake!
    Today was the Bootjack Fire and Rescue BBQ chicken fund raiser. It is one event I start looking forward to the minute that the last snow melts for the winter. I can say with all honesty that it is by far the best barbecue chicken I have ever had in my life. I have no idea what all goes into the preparation and I have a feeling it is probably a closely guarded secret, but it is just so good. It does not have the traditional tomato based barbecue sauce on it. Rather a blend of spices. It is so tender and juicy that I wonder if it may be marinated beforehand as well. The dinner includes 1/2 a chicken a roll, coleslaw and baked beans and they sell 2500 in the 6 hours of serving time. The event us always in July and I think the second Sunday of the month, although I could be wrong on that. It is $9 a dinner, with the proceeds going to Bootjack Fire and Rescue. Next year I will try and remember to give an advance notice of it's happening because if you are up here then, it is something you HAVE to try. I think they like to have you purchase a ticket in advance so that they know how many to cook up, but I did hear that they allow some walk-ins a well. Plus your money does not only buy you an awesome chicken dinner, but helps to support a rescue squad that just may come to your rescue. They are typically the first one scene for many rescues up here, especially out on the Portage and Torch Lakes. One of the new arrivals to their stable of rescue equipment is a Polaris Ranger UTV, which is outfitted with tracks for rescue in the winter. By the way, Keweenaw County also has a Polaris Ranger for rescue and some of you helped to make that possible with your donations.
    Our plan for the day was to drive down and pick up our dinners at lunch time (they serve from 11 am until 5 pm), then head down to the Bootjack boat launch and have a little picnic and then let Burt have a swim. The weather cooperated perfectly with that and we all enjoyed the picnic, including Burt. When we pulled into the boat launch, I could not believe how low the lake level was. I have seen other areas where it was low, but nothing like this. Actually, that picture was deceiving as they actually never put the dock in this summer. So the water is really not down 4 feet, but is down about 1 1/2 feet. Here is a view of the shoreline by the boat launch. All that exposed sand would actually be underwater if the lake was at it's average level. The water may be low, but there is still enough for Burt to have a swim- for now anyway!
    So I think that gets you caught up in things. The week ahead looks to be fairly pleasant up here, with temps mainly in the 70's and comfortable humidity levels. Hard to believe we could get through 2/3rds of the month of July without any heat. Things might warm up by Friday or the weekend and who knows what the rest of the month will bring, but I can promise you that if we continue this streak of comfortable temps for the rest of the month, you will not hear me complain about July this year.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
July 8-
    Whew, had a pretty busy last couple of days. After last summer's building marathon, this has really become the summer of leisure for us, with the exception of last week. Not that things were too crazy and we did not have fun, but we did entertain about a dozen or so of Nora's family on the 4th and had 4 of them staying with us for a few days as well. So this past week has been a bit busier than the past, but now things have quieted down and are back to "normal". The 4th was nice, but I have to admit that this is the first year that I did not take in at least one fireworks show or parade. I did go to the parade for the fireman's tournament last weekend, but that cannot count as a 4th of July parade. I did hear that both the Lake Linden and the Copper Harbor fireworks were the best in years. Figures, I missed them both! We did manage to have a fun 4th even without attending the parades and fireworks. Burt even got a little dressed up for the occasion.
    The weather cooperated for all of our activities and I think it did for all of the other activities going on up here. We continue the dryness. We did pick up a spotty shower this morning and while some locales to our north and to our south picked up some meaningful rains, we did not even get enough to completely make the ground wet. It is just amazing how the rains come at us and then either split or fall apart or both. I am sure that someday that trend will break and we will end up getting the heaviest of what falls around the area, but it just keeps getting drier and drier. Nora, Burt and I went down to Lake Linden yesterday to have a look around and pick some of our strawberries and the grass there has gone into it's summer dormancy. It pretty much did almost every summer I was there, unless I watered the lawn. I also seemed to break that dormancy come September, when things cool down, the sun is not out for as long and when the rains become a little more regular. The strawberry crop was OK. Quite a few berries, but they are small. I think the dryness causes that. They seem sweeter too. Perhaps the dryness has something to do with that as well. We are going to have a huge raspberry crop this year too. They are still a week to ten days away from being ready for the first picking, but the bushes were just loaded with berries. I think they like the dryness. The thimbleberry crop is also going to be a big one this year, but for as much hype as they get, I have yet to meet someone that actually likes them that much. To me they are way too tart as well as too mealy.
    The dryness has also kept the bug population down. June is bug month up here, but July can have it's own fair share of bugs too, but so far they have not been too bad. The only time I have been really attacked by mosquitos was waiting in line at the ice cream shop in Ahmeek on Friday night. For some reason they were out in full force there and hungry too! At first I thought that they found the blood to be better tasting with the ice cream flowing through it, but then realized that I had not even gotten to taste my ice cream before they attacked me. So much for that theory. Here at the cabin we have a mosquito magnet going and it has been doing an excellent job at capturing all the bugs that would otherwise be trying to bite us. I checked the trap the other day and there were a ton of mosquitos in it and I would imagine some black flies and noseums too. Nora and I just got back from our evening walk (4+ miles) and we walked the woods and the only things bothering me were the deer flies and they were not even bothering Nora. Either it was my stink or the dark blue hat I was wearing. I hear they are attracted to dark colors, especially blue, so I will go with that.
    In addition to having Nora's family up here this week, we managed to get JHIF going. For those of you who may be new or just forgot what JHIF is, it is our boat. JHIF stands for Just Happy It Floats. It is a little 16 foot tri-hull with an 85 hp Johnson on it. Not seaworthy to consider taking it too far out into Lake Superior and with the tri-hull it would be a pretty bouncy ride on an inland lake with stronger winds bringing a chop. But for putzing around the inland lakes up here on a quieter day it is just fine. I really love boating. I grew up boating and even worked at a marina for several years. There is just something so relaxing about being out on the water. In fact I think that is one of the reasons why I like to fish is that is usually involves boating. That was the main reason for getting JHIF going again. Nora's brother really loves to fish (actually owns a bait shop in Port Huron, MI- Andersons Pro Bait), so we got the boat going so we could head out and do some fishing.
    I am glad that we decided to get the boat going. It has been almost 2 years since we had it running. Back in October of 2005 there was a really nice and warm day (for mid October), so Nora, the hounds and I took the boat down to the Bootjack boat launch. Only it would not start. It turned over, but would not start. So we pulled it back onto the trailer and there it sat until last Friday. Last summer we were too busy building to even consider going for a boat ride- let alone try and get it started. This summer I looked at the boat everyday and said to myself that one of these day's I need to try and get that thing running again. Turns out nothing was ever wrong with it. I must have flooded it out or something back in October of '05, because it started up without too much effort on Friday. It ran fine all evening for us Friday. So now we have the boat to provide us some more fun while the summer lasts. I know I want to take it up to Lac La Belle and cruise that lake, maybe even sneak up the coast of the Keweenaw from Lac La Belle up to the Mouth of the Montreal and Fish Cove. It might even be fun to wait for the right conditions and put it in at Eagle Harbor and run it up to Grand Marais Harbor and Agate Harbor.
    Of course Nora is chomping at the bit to go fishing again. She loves to fish and  was the only one to catch a fish Friday night. Battled this pike for 3 hours! Actually it was more like about 2 minutes, but she was the only one to catch a fish- as is the case many times! I suppose we can wet a line when we go to Lac La Belle or the other spots I have in mind.
    About the only other activities going on up here this past week were Nora and I relaxing in the pool and taking Burt to the beach for his swimming. It sure is nice to have the pool heated. I actually keep it at about 86 degrees, which might be too warm for some, but it perfect for being able to sit in it forever and not get cold. Without the heat exchanger I built for the wood boiler, it would be a real job to try and keep that pool that warm.
    As for Burt and the beach, he does not mind the water temp. Yesterday we took him to Eagle River and the water there was actually not that cold. I don't know if I would have gone swimming in it, but plenty of others were in the water. Today we went to the mouth of the Gratiot, which is only about 8-10 miles down the shore from Eagle River, but the water was much colder. I would have to guess it was probably in the upper 40's to low 50's. Good thing Burt does not care. It is so neat to see him get excited to go swimming. He knows just what time of the day we go and sits anxiously for me to tell him "let's go". Once at the beach, he cannot wait to jump in and head out to fetch the stick that I toss out. What is also kind of funny is that he does not like to fetch small sticks. The bigger the better actually. I have tossed sticks (logs really) that were about 8 feet long and 4-6 inches in diameter and he will swim out and get them and bring them back to shore. I do not want to drown the poor guy, so I made some custom sticks for him to fetch when we go to the beach or lake. They are hard maple about 1 1/2" in diameter and about 18" long and I removed all the bark from them so that they are nice and smooth. We actually found a similar one on the beach one time and have been using it the past few weeks. He's getting old, but still has lots of strength left as he will sometimes grab the very end of that stick and carry it to shore that way. He also gets around very well for his age. If you were to watch him at the beach or lake fetching sticks for 30-60 minutes, you would never think that he will be 12 in a few months and one with pretty severe arthritis. He pretty much goes non stop while we are there. Sometimes Nora and I wish he would just take a break and then we could spend a few hours at the beach relaxing and letting him swim from time to time, but if we stop tossing the stick, he gets fidgety and starts digging a hole, or wandering off or rolling in the sand. I don't mind the fact that he cannot relax at the beach. I am just thrilled to see him have so much fun and get around so well. Oh, I guess he can take a break from time to time.
    The weather was so nice at Eagle River yesterday that Nora and I decided to head down there for our evening walk. We try and walk at least 2 miles every evening and sometimes go as far as 4 or 5 miles if we are up to it and have time. It's good exercise and we enjoy each others company so it's fun and good for us! Anyway, we got down to the beach and the fresh breeze that had been blowing during the afternoon has pretty much burned out. The temps were still comfortable, but there were some noseums out. I have never really had too many problems with noseums up here, but for some reason, they were really an issue for us last night. The funny thing is that if you did not move, they would not bother you. When we walked, they would become a problem. We still managed to get in two miles walking the beach and other than the noseums, it was a perfect evening for a walk on the beach. I had never been down that stretch of beach before and once the noseums run their course or if the breeze is strong enough, I would like to go back and walk further. It sure is a pretty beach and pretty quiet too.
    As mentioned, today we headed down to the mouth of the Gratiot. Pretty quiet down there today, but then again it was not a great beach day, with clouds and the threat for a shower most of the day (the threat never converted though). Not too many bugs to speak of, although a few of the biting flies seemed to be trying to have one last go of it. I can handle one or two of them trying to get at me, but when 100 or more are trying, that is too much! Burt put on his regular show and it was another very enjoyable afternoon at the beach. The lake is so low I really feel sorry for folks that it is negatively impacting. I know they will be closing the boat launch at Eagle Harbor for a week or two so that they can make the launch more capable of handling the low water. The inland lakes are just fine if they are not connected to the big lake. So that means the Portage and Torch Lakes are low too.
    Well, that about covers it for this one. The 4th of July hoopla is over for this year and it looks like we have some very comfortable weather coming up for the second half of this week, the weekend and early part of next week. Almost September-like. We'll have to keep feeding logs into the boiler to keep the pool warm, but that is a fair trade off to have nice cool summer temps up here. It looks like we should be able to get through at least the first half of next week without heat and that would put us half way through July. August can still provide heat and I have a feeling we are not done with it yet, but to be able to get half way through July and not have much to complain about for the month is fine by me!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
July 1-
    Happy July everyone. So here we are, day one of my least favorite month. 60 days of heat and humidity (just kidding, I know it only has 31). There is reason to celebrate though. We made it through the bug month (June) and are one step closer to the beginning of the second best season (September and October), which leads to the best season (November through March). It also looks like the first week or so of July will be quite comfortable up here. I can honestly say that if the entire summer were just like the past 3-4 days have been, then I could actually look forward to summer! I do make the most of the season and actually do not hate it or anything, but I could get by with about a month or so of summer, 4 months of autumn, 6 months of winter and a week or two of spring.
    We did have a nasty day this past week. Tuesday was hot and humid. My temp topped out at 90, but the dewpoint was 72. That is some pretty tropical air. I took Burt for a swim and Nora and I spent a lot of time in the pool. It was funny though. Our wood supply was dwindling and there were a few trees just off our driveway that I figured we could cut down Tuesday evening and quickly replenish the supply. Well, the chainsaw had different ideas. I pulled on it and pulled on it and it just would not start. I tried everything short of starter spray and just decided to not force the issue and get back into my swimsuit and hit the pool, rather than sweat it out in long pants, loggers chaps, long sleeve shirt and gloves. On Wednesday morning I went out to the shop, grabbed the saw, gave the starter chord a quick pull and it started first pull! I let it warm up and then shut it down and Nora and I made wood Wednesday afternoon in much nicer conditions. The only thing I can figure is that the saws engine flooded out (the first few pulls I forgot to turn on the ignition), but whatever the reason it was a blessing! It would not have been a fun time cutting wood in that heat and humidity as we actually hit 90 degrees when I was trying to start the saw. Plus the saw was not broke and I did not have to worry about getting it fixed. I do have plans to buy a new one later this summer or early this autumn as the one I have now is old and pretty tired and we will be making lots of wood in the coming years. I will keep the old one as a backup as well.
    If Tuesday was the personification of the summer day I despise, then Thursday was a perfect 10 in my book. Temps in the upper 60's to low 70's, crystal clear blue skies and a nice breeze. I took Burt to an inland lake for our afternoon adventure and I could have just sat out at that lake the entire afternoon. Thursday is also my golf league day, so I could not sit by the lake all afternoon, but it was also a great day to be at the golf course. The black flies have pretty much given up for the season. There are always a few that hang around until autumns chill take care of all the bugs, but the fear of being swarmed by them is gone. It has been so dry that the mosquitos are not too much of a problem right now and for some reason the deer flies were not out at the golf course either. So not only was the weather perfect, but no bugs. Can't ask for much more golfing in the Keweenaw!
    Wednesday was nice too. The cold front came through Tuesday night and it was amazing that we could replace the heat and humidity of Tuesday with the cooler and less humid air of Wednesday and not even produce any rain. It tried to rain. I saw showers and storms pop up in MN and then head their way out over the lake, but that big old chill box sucked the life out of the storms and I don't think we even managed a sprinkle. I have been back to watering the lawn pretty aggressively, but with there being mainly grass and little dirt, I do not have to water as much. Plus it looks like we will get some good rain up here tomorrow and tomorrow night. We sure could use all the rain we can get right now. The woods are still plenty green, but the lake is still plenty low. Some areas of the Lake Superior drainage basin have been seeing some pretty regular rains. Far northern MN and SW Ontario have been getting pretty decent rains, but other areas of southern Ontario and the UP have seen sporadic rains at best. Sure would be nice if Old Mother Nature decided to recharge the lake this winter! Only time will tell though.
    The week was a pretty quiet one other than taking Burt to the lake or into the woods to walk. Oh, he also did his Laura Ingles imitation for me on our Wednesday walk in the woods. Nora snuck out of town for a few days and went to the eastern UP to meet up with a friend from lower MI. She was missed and I think she missed Burt and I and the cabin as she was excited to get back. She has some family in the area for the 4th and more will be arriving this week. We are planning on having everyone over for a barbecue on the 4th, so that will be nice.
    I still have not gotten on my two bigger projects that I have planned for the cabin this summer. I can say I got the lumber for one of the projects and also tuned up my woodworking tools, so everything is ready, but with the company in the area and some staying at the cabin later this week- now would not be a good time to start a construction project. Next week I think I will start in on it and it should not take more than a week of afternoons and evenings to finish the task. The other project will take a few days and then the final project will be to put the stain/sealer on the cabins exterior. I plan to wait until the cooler temps of early autumn settle in before starting in on that task. I figure it will be a whole lot more enjoyable doing that work in temps in the 60's rather than in the 80's. Then all we will need to to is make wood and we'll be all set for winter! Something tells me that autumn will be here before I know it, which is fine by me!
    I think that about covers it. I have one of those behind the eyeball headaches for some reason, and my vision is getting a little blurred, which makes it hard to type on the computer and see what I am typing. However, I really wanted to get out a journal tonight as it seems like the weekday nights are filled with some other activity. Have a safe and fun 4th of July everyone!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
-JD-
 
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