September  27-
    Well, the final entry for September is here. The way this September has gone, it feels more like it is the final entry for August. More well above average temps this past week, with a bit of humidity to boot. However, our "Autumn Front" is heading towards us from the west and will be here later this evening and once it passes, it looks like that will be it for summer. We could still have a mild day, but not one after another for 7 days straight. Along with the cool off, it looks like we will be getting an inch or more of rain and some 50 mph winds. Glad I have all my outdoor chores done- more on that in a bit.
    Before I go on and forget, I need to mention that there will be no journal entry next Sunday. I'll be out of town and not able to update. I guess I deserve a day off every once in a while! So enjoy this one and then hang tight for two weeks.
    I saved the Grace update for last the past two entries, so I think I will put it in early this week. She is doing pretty good. She definitely has colic. It starts most days around 5 pm and lasts until a little after 8. Last Sunday was the worst episode she has had yet. She screamed at the top of her lungs for 3 1/2 hour straight. I could not believe that her little vocal chords could even hold up that long. I know if I tried to scream like she did, mine would give out in less than a minute! The rest of the evenings since Sunday have been much better. We have been using the Gripe Water when she is having a particularly rough episode and it seems to work pretty good. The rest of the time we just have to bounce her a bit and keep her in a cool, dark and quiet room. It's amazing how fast it starts up and how fast it ends. Almost like turning on and off a light. We hear stories about other babies having colic and it lasting 7-8 months and Nora and I both pray it does not last that long. Others have said it lasts 3 months, which would be a whole lot better for all involved. We'll see!
    She has gotten big enough to be able to ride in her Baby Bjorn, so that is where she has been going when we take our walks. I plan to get a jacket large enough to go around both of us. Then I can bundle her up and keep her inside the jacket next to me and go for winter walks. On day's it is brutally cold or very windy we will keep her inside and not expose her to those elements. Here she is with me and the pups on our Wednesday walk. We walked a section of the snowmobile trail, you can see some of the trail markers behind me. 
    She is definitely becoming more aware of her environment and it is getting easier and easier to get a smile out of her. I have yet to get a picture of her in full smile, but this one was pretty close. Here is another that just missed, but is still darn cute! Of course it is not all fun and games. She does have her other moments. Although outside of her colic period, she does not cry unless she is hungry or needs a diaper change, so she is a very good baby.
    In other news, the color change continues to progress. I think we are at around 20-25% right now and should be at peak color in two weeks. Some areas are more turned than others and some of those areas are not too far away from each other. The area where we walked on Monday did not have much change going on. We drove through some more color on Tuesday. Here is a shot of the colors a little bit further down the road. Like I say, we should be at peak in around two weeks. Things really go quickly the last 4-5 days of the change. I also am sticking to my guns in thinking it will be a good show this year. Perhaps not the best we have ever seen, but better than average.
    We still have had plenty of beach weather this past week and the pups have been getting in lots of swimming the past week. We have had the beaches to ourselves, which is nice with two wild Labrador pups. Here is a shot of them both bringing the stick back to me. Thursday was a picture perfect day for the beach. If that picture looked like it was nice out there, it was. I just kept thinking the whole time we were there how lucky we are to live in a spot that we can go to areas like that anytime we want. The only thing that would have made it better is to lay down and take a two hour nap, but the pups would not have been too keen to that idea I am sure!
    Been busy cutting firewood this week too. In fact, in the past 2 days I have spent a total of seven hours cutting and stacking wood. I did have help all of those seven hours as well. The two boys that helped me out the past two weekends helped me out for two hours yesterday and then my older brother and mom came up yesterday, so he and I cut for an hour yesterday and then four hours this morning and the result is it is done! Here is the pile for this winter and if it is a really cold one, then we have this for backup. Just kidding of course. Those are the piles to get us through the next 2 months or so. The snow will not be an issue in that time frame and it is easier to have it close by the boiler, plus it was easier to stack it there than inside the shelter. However, speaking of the shelter, it is just about full to the rim with wood. We have about 15-16 cord of wood in there and that will be enough for us to get by in the next two years. I cannot explain how nice it feels to have all that wood cut and stacked. Cut and stacked firewood is like money in the bank to me and right now the bank account is pretty full!
   So now it is time to kick back and relax a bit. Not much else needs to be done to prepare for the winter. The plow will need to go on the ATV and the snowthrower needs to be fired up and be made ready. Of course the sled needs to be gotten ready too, but I have around two months to take care of all of that.
    I guess that gets you all caught up for this week and again, no entry next Sunday.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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September  20-
   This sure has been a crazy summer. We could hardly buy a summer like day in June and July and here we are at the end of September and we just keep having one summer day after another. As we go deeper and deeper into September, I can feel the atmosphere struggle more and more to produce the summer weather though. We even had a 24 hour period of autumn weather here Friday and early Saturday. Friday saw temps in the 60's and we had low 30's for the predawn hours on Saturday, but then shot into the upper 70's by later in the day on Saturday and are in the upper 70's today as well. The humidity has been noticeable, but not out of hand with dewpoints in the low 60's for the most part.
    Not a drop of rain has fallen in the entire month of September though and there is not more than a sprinkle seen for us for the upcoming week, so we will come very close to not seeing a single drop of rain fall for the entire month. Perhaps we will even end up with a big old goose egg for the month. It does not seem to be impacting the vegetation too much. Everything is still pretty green. I am watering the lawn to keep it in good shape to handle the long winter, but trees and bushes are not browning up. There are more splashes of color starting to show up, but still mainly splashes with about 10-15% of the trees having some color. That seems to be about on par with an average year. We still have about 3 weeks to peak and it seems like we are only at about 50% changed just 4-5 days ahead of the peak. I still think it will be a good color show. Perhaps not perfect, but much better than the previous years. The weekend of the 10-11th should probably nail it for peak in the majority of the Keweenaw. 
    The summer weather has kept us going to the lakes and beaches with the pups most of the week, although Tuesday was a bit cooler and less humid and we took to the woods for our afternoon walk. The pups sure have grown accustomed to our daily schedule. They know right when we are going to take the morning walk and when it is time to head out for the afternoon adventure. All I need to do is push my chair back from the desk and they bound up and are all ready to go. I sure to enjoy watching them have fun on our adventures. It is just like Burt and Baileys when we first moved up here. All full of energy,  excitement and wonder. They love to explore as much as Burt and Baileys did as well. I sure hope Gracie will like to explore with us too! 
    As mentioned, there are more and more splashes of color starting to show up, but the woods are still 85-90% green right now. About a month ago I came across a blackberry patch in the woods and the berries were so small that I thought it would be very lucky if we saw them ripen before a killing freeze hit. Well, we made it! The crop is not that good this year. Lots of bushes, but not too many berries. It was a banner year for the thimbleberries and the raspberries were ok, but for some reason the blackberry crop was down. Still found enough on our afternoon walk to satisfy my cravings.
    I managed to cut up and stack the remaining firewood from last years delivery and got the area all cleaned up. It's amazing how much sawdust is created. I think I hauled around 20 wheel barrel loads to our little burn pit. On Wednesday, the metal roofing arrived and I got busy putting that up after dinner. The sheets were light enough that I was able to place them myself and I ended up getting all of the sheets up before the sun set that evening. I was not able to get all the screws zipped in Wednesday night, but spent about 45 minutes on Thursday getting them in. It sure was nice to sit back and look at the shelter all ready to keep the snow off the firewood. With the remaining wood from last year all cut and stacked in there, we probably had enough wood to get us through January or maybe even Valentines day- depending on how cold a winter it is.
   However, as the say goes: there is no rest for the weary- the next load of wood arrived on Thursday. It was only a single load, 9.5 cord. Last year we got 17 cord, but that would have been far too much for this season. In fact, I think between what we had left over and what we got on Thursday, we might make it through the next 2 seasons. It was pretty cool watching him unload all the wood. He just swung the clamshell around where ever he wanted it like it was an extension of his hand. At one point he even picked up a little foot long piece of wood and tossed it over by the boiler for me to burn. I don't think it took him any longer than 15 minutes to unload all of the wood and he was even nice enough to keep the pile rather short, rather than tall, with the risk of the logs falling when I cut. You can't see in that last picture, but the pile did extend almost all the way to the back corner of the shelter.
    Once he was done unloading, I let the pups out and they immediately ran to see the new wood pile. Of course to them it was not a pile of firewood, but rather a new playground to play on. On Saturday I got to cutting and had my two helpers show up to help me stack the wood. We worked for around 2 hours and then they came again today and we all worked for another 2 hours. We pretty much work at the pace of one cord an hour, so between yesterday and today, we cut around 4 cord and almost halfway through the pile. We also have plenty of wood for this season and are well on our way into the heating season of 2010-2011. And it's all safe and secure under the shelter! 
    After cutting wood yesterday morning, Nora, Grace and I took the pups to one of the inland lakes for an afternoon swim. The afternoon was perfect for such an excursion with temps in the upper 70's, just a touch of humidity and a fresh breeze out of the south. Everyone had a good time enjoying the late summer weather. On the way back home I snapped a shot of the trees starting to show some color. This was actually more color than is going on in most areas up here.
    It just popped into my mind, so before I forget I want to remind everyone of the snowmobile trail work session we are having up here in the Keweenaw October 23rd and 24th. There is free lodging being offered for the workers at the Pines in Copper Harbor and the Lac La Belle Lodge in LLB. Just be sure to mention you are with the trail work session when you make your reservations. We will also be providing free lunches both days and a free dinner on Saturday night. You do not have to attend both days, we welcome any help we can get. You also do not need an ATV or even a 4 wheel drive truck/SUV. There will be trucks going out with room in them. Tools are not required either, but if you want to bring a chainsaw or post hole digger, feel free. Last year was the first year that we held such a work session in the Keweenaw and it went really well and we all had fun. It's a great way to get out and see the backcountry of the Keweenaw before the snow flies and also a great way to help out the Keweenaw Trail Services which is the entity that is responsible for the trails up here. If you have any questions, feel free to e mail me, but I hope to see as many of you up here as possible. Always some work to do!
    Last week I saved the Grace update for last and I thought I would do the same this week. She continues to inch her way out of the "newborn" status and into the "toddler" status. I am actually not sure what officially designates the toddler status, but to me it is when they are more than just an eating, pooping and sleeping machine. She is much more aware of her surroundings than a few weeks ago. She still sneaks out a smile from time to time. Gas is still an issue and she seems to have developed true colic. She gets fussy in the evenings for a few hours for no clear cut reason at all. It goes away like turning off a light around 8-8:30 every evening. There is a position that we can hold her in and bounce her a bit that seems to really help, but we will be glad when this passes, the poor little girl.
    When not having her rough time in the evenings or hungry, she is just a little angel and as cute as she ever was. We took her on the walk with us yesterday morning, but with it being so chilly out, Nora bundled her up almost like it was winter. I forgot to mention one other time she gets a little crabby, and that is when you try and take the remote away. It has started already!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
September  13-
   Wow, September is almost half over. Seems really hard to believe. I guess that's what happens when Labor Day happens as late as it possible can. Plus we have had pure summer weather for the entire month as well. The past week we had highs in the upper 70's and low 80's, with fairly respectable humidity levels. Dewpoints have been rising into the mid to upper 60's almost every day as well. It has not been what you would call "unbearable", but a bit warm for my tastes and especially too warm for this time of the year. Now is the time of the year when I usually start to hit the outdoor projects that need to be done in preparation for winter pretty hard. The days are usually comfortable and early mornings and late afternoons or early evenings are nice and cool. Not so this September. It does cool off some in the overnight period, but by 9 am the humidity is already jumping with the sun's rays causing that moisture flux from the ground to the air.
    With that said, I have been busy making firewood. This is all that remains of the pile that we started with last September. I have another load coming this week (hopefully!) and with what is on the ground in that picture and is already stacked in the wood shed, we probably could make it through most of January. The load coming this September will not be as large as last years and I really hope to get it all cut and stacked in the next 2 weeks. Hopefully the metal roofing for the shed comes early this week and I can get that put up. 
    The color show is just starting to appear up here. I would call it more "splashes of color" rather than a true show. Some areas seem to have a bit more color than others, but nowhere that I have been in the past week was more than around 5-10% changed. It looks like the peak for our neck of the woods will be around on time this year, which is around Oct 8-14th. Very few trees are turning early, so it should be a pretty good show this year. It will be nice to have a good show as the past two years were a little off because of summer drought.
    I was actually out of town earlier in the week and thought I would be gone for most of the week and is why I took the week off from producing forecasts. It turned out I came home a day after leaving, but was too tired Wednesday to put anything out and figured I deserved Thursday and Friday off. I will be doing the forecasts for the next 2 weeks and will then take a break the last few days of September and all of October to get ready for the snow season. There are some pretty big things in the works for the site this upcoming snow season. So big that I cannot even promise that they will be in place by the time the snow starts piling up, but hopefully they will and I can all but guarantee that you all will be pretty impressed with what is being done. I also hope to have a new discussion board put in place in the next month or two. I want to keep the look much as it is, clean and simple, but need to upgrade to one that has features such as easier to post pictures and search. I will also likely expand upon the topics a bit, especially the classifieds that have really taken off. So while it may seem like nothing is happening, much is actually happening behind the scenes. So stay tuned!
    You know how that saying goes: "When given lemons, make lemonade"? Well, I guess this week we could have tweaked it a little and have it say: "When Mother Nature gives you beach weather, head to the beach!". That is exactly what we have been doing all week since I got home. School is back in session, so the families that would normally be populating the beaches are all back in school and work, so the pups, Nora, Gracie and I have had most of the joint to ourselves. On Thursday we found ourselves at the North Shore with a tiny bit of an on shore breeze helping to keep things very comfortable. Of course the coolest spot to be was in the big lake, which is exactly where the pups spent most of the afternoon. We did walk down the beach a bit to a little estuary and they swam in it for a while too. Huck did some launching, although I did not capture any of them while he was in the air. The best I could do was a shot taken upon impact. But you can tell he hung some air time by the undisturbed water between the shore and where he landed. While the pups were swimming in the estuary, an adolescent bald eagle flew by overhead. We see a lot of them up here, but I never grow tired of seeing them.
    Yesterday being a Saturday and a beach day, we found most of the more popular spots not only taken, but packed. The two more popular spots at Great Sand Bay were as full of cars as I have ever seen them at any time. You name it, fourth of July, Labor Day, Christmas, New Years... but seriously, there was not a single place to park in that area, but we were not planning on stopping there. Our plans were to head up to Cat Harbor and while there were a few families there, we were able to stake claim to one end of the beach and let the pups swim. Nora and Grace sat and watched and Grace even put back a few while at the beach.
    Speaking of Grace, I guess I saved the best for last with my update on her. She continues to make some improvements in her gas and sleeping. We have some good days and bad with the gas, although it seems like she definitely has less gas and even her worst days now are better than her average days in the past. There are some feedings where she does not burp at all and is comfortable afterwards. So she is either learning how to drink without sucking in air or the combination of the bottles and formula are working. With the less gas pains, she is sleeping a little better. She does spend a few more minutes awake during the day than before, but they really are minutes. It is not that she sleeps all day and is awake all night. It is more the fact that she sleeps when tired and is awake other times. So she may be awake for an hour or so and also while feeding and burping and then will sleep for 1-3 hours. However, she is starting to be comfortable on her back as well, which is nice because we can start putting her in her crib to sleep and maybe that will lead to longer sleep periods at night. 
    The biggest news with regards to Grace this week is that she is really starting to notice things going on around her. She will watch the pups and will look at Nora and I and Friday morning she even smiled her first real smile at Nora. I heard about it and came over and she smiled again for me too. Talk about excitement! Funny how such a small thing like a babies first smile can turn your whole world upside down. Of course Nora and I then spent the next 30 minutes trying to get her to smile again so we could take a picture of it and all she would muster for us was sticking her tongue out at us. I hope that is not a sign of her willingness to be photographed!
    So I guess that about covers it. For those of you waiting for the cooler temps of autumn to arrive. It looks like we will get some tastes of it the middle of this week, next weekend and then perhaps the real deal the second half of next week. Perhaps even the seasons first snow flakes for areas of the Northwoods. I am ready for that!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
September  6-
    Welcome to September everyone. This summer will be known for a lot of things, mainly it's coolness across much of the Midwest, but one things is for sure, it is going out in style for most of the region as well. We are on day 8 of picture perfect weather and look to have around two more, perhaps three before things turn cooler and wetter. I can say that the past 3-4 days have been a touch warmer and more humid than I would care for, with highs in the upper 70's and dewpoints in the low 60's, but it still cools off nicely at night and the cool off happens a lot faster at this time of the year than it does in June, July and most of August. We start to cool off around 4-5 pm and by 8 or 9 it is cool enough for good sleeping. It also does not warm up until around 11 in the morning, so that means we only have the warmest temps for 5-6 hours, rather than the 12+ we have in the middle of summer.
    It's been a pretty busy week up here. I was busy working on a project (more on that later) as well as helping Nora with Gracie when I can and of course taking the morning walks and afternoon adventures with the pups. On Tuesday we headed to the beach. The pups had their usual fun fetching sticks and the tennis ball. Huck found a spot to launch off of and had fun doing that. There is a little underwater rock ledge there that he runs up to and then launches into the deeper water beyond the ledge. He really loves to do that and I love to look at the pictures of it so much, I figured that I would post another. Kudos to Nora for taking those action shots. Of course Millie did a lot of tennis ball fetching. She also likes to fetch the stick in the water, but for the most part, I toss the stick for Huck and then the tennis ball for Millie, then wait for them to bring them back, reload and do it all over again!
    Gracie made it to the beach too, but spent most of the time snoozed out. Here is a close up of the little girl. She has been sleeping a lot lately. I would have to say a good 18-20 hours out of the 24 hour period in a day. We took her to the Dr's for her one month lube and oil (wellness exam) and she put on one pound and grew one inch in the two weeks between her two appointments. So I guess all the sleep she is getting and all the formula she is downing is not going to waste! Speaking of formula, the new one we changed her to about a week ago has made a huge difference. She did have a not so good night last night, but they did get better and better as we worked through the week. So we have a much better solution than we had a week ago. We still need to burp her every ounce or two as we feed her, but she does burp much quicker than she used to and is much more comfortable as a whole. Thanks to all that offered up their advice last week!
    After the busy time at the beach, we all came home and relaxed. Some a bit more than others. Huckie really loves his little sister! Millie too!
    On Saturday we headed to the beach too. This time it was White City way at the far southern end. Nora actually has relatives that live down there and we stopped by and hung out on their beach. Just as we got to the water's edge, the Keweenaw Star came rolling out of the south entry (FSV). It was a beautiful day to be at the beach, warm temps, sunny skies and even the water was pretty warm. I did not bring my suit, but had I, I would have gone for a swim for sure. Needless to say the puppies did their fair share of swimming. Even little Grace dipped her toes in the big lake, although did not like it much and retracted her feet away from the water as fast as she could! So fast I missed it, but you can see the proof dripping off her toe into the water. I am sure she will enjoy real swims next summer, but we had to let her see what it was all about this season too. We tried posing for a nice family picture, but the pups did not completely grasp the concept, so we gave up having them in the shot and had just the human side of the Dee clan in the shot.
    Today would have been another good day for a beach visit, but I was busy working all morning and then we had something to do around midday and just did not have enough time to get to one of our secret spots. There are plenty of spots within about 15-20 minutes, but it being the Sunday of Labor Day and a very good one for the beach, they would likely have lots of folks at them and the pups are not quite ready for crowded beaches yet! So we took to the woods for our afternoon adventure. There were some clouds and it was not too hot or humid to be walking in the woods and we all had a good time, including the pups. Of course they have fun in just about everything they do.
    So I am sure that you all have been sitting on the edge of your seat to find out what this "project" I have been working so hard on this week was. Well, it is a shelter for our firewood. As you can see, it is not quite done yet. The metal has been ordered for the roof and will be in in about a week and I will be putting up some plastic tarps on the sides for this winter and then will put wood up on the sides next season. There is a nice bed of crushed mine rock for the logs to sit on and it will be very nice to never have to dig out the next round of wood for the boiler again. Plus, thanks to some help from Nora's brother and his son, we cut some fire wood in the coolness of this morning and stacked it in the shelter. Still a lot more to go before winter sets in, but we still have at least 2 months before winter sets in and making wood is much nicer in the coolness of the autumn.
   So I think that about gets you caught up in the goings on this past week!    
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 
 

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