August 28-
    You all know how much I look forward to going from August to September, so I am not going to go on and on about it, but I am in good spirits as usual about the changing of the month and season to happen this week. The weather has been getting more and more late-summerlike around here. The sun just does not seem to have the kick it has a few weeks back and certainly not like it does in late June and all of July. The nights are getting longer and cooler. Some mornings, a light jacket could even be used without any looks from folks thinking you were some kind of a wimp. Our days have still been pleasantly warm though, with highs mainly in the 70's, which is about perfect for me. We even had a taste of humidity around midweek, but it only lasted about 24 hours and then was gone.
    I am actually hoping for a mild autumn. A good storm or two is always fun (as long as we don't loose power), but it would be nice to have mild temps and not the really cold and dreary stuff until maybe November, or better yet, not at all until the snow starts to fly. I guess only time will tell, but the week ahead looks pretty good, with temps mainly in the 70's and other than a short spell with humidity midweek, it looks like that nasty stuff will stay out of the Keweenaw. The air conditioners will stay in another week or so, but it is getting close to the time when they can come out too.
    It was a week of firsts up here. One first was and all time firsts and some were just firsts for the season. The all time first happened on Thursday when Nora, Gracie and I traveled to the Houghton County Fair. That was not a first, as we went there last year, but this year Grace was old enough to take a pony ride. Even though she was very enthusiastic about taking the ride, I was kind of wondering how she would actually like it and if she would be scared at all. Well, a second into the saddle told the whole story. Her eyes lit up and a grin hit her face like has happened no other time since I have known her. She loved every second of the ride and the only crying done was when it was time to get off and that only lasted about 15-20 seconds. She did great, holding onto the saddle horn the whole time and I only had my hand near her back to catch her if she did happen to start to fall.
    We did not go on any of the other rides, but did go to see all the farm animals on exhibit, watched some of the equestrian competition and took in the petting zoo. The fair is a pretty small one as far as county fairs go, but it is still fun to go to and I suspect that they will only get to be more and more fun as Grace will be able to partake in more and more of what is going on at it.
    One of the firsts of the season this week was a genuine walk in the woods. It felt so go to be able to get out into the woods and take a walk with the pups. I was actually thinking that the last time we took a walk in the woods was early last November sometime, as once deer season starts, we stay out of them and the snows came during deer season, so we did not walk in the woods after that. We did take a few skis, but then Millie had her surgery and we had to sit things out for a few months and then I had my surgery and had to take it easy for a while. Then things got busy once I was feeling better and that led us to not taking a walk until Tuesday of this week.
    As much as I love to cruise the woods on a sled or ATV, it is also very nice to just take a nice walk. The pace is slower and life just seems to slow down to a nice relaxed pace. I can both take the time to enjoy my surroundings and think about things at the same time. The slower pace also lets me see things in a way that would probably be missed or just a blur on a motorized vehicle. Along the way, we came across a little creek meandering through the woods and even though it was not too hot out, it gave the pups an opportunity to cool off and take a drink. The walk and mother nature also gave us a little treat to enjoy. I'd say we are at high season for blackberries right now and will probably be able to pick for another week or two (if we don't have a hard freeze) and then they will be done and so will the berry season up here.
    While I was picking some berries for myself, I stopped to check on the pups and see what they were up to. Well, they were about 30 feet up the trail from me, noses in berry bushes, picking their own! They just crack me up! I really get a kick on how they know to not only find the berries on their own, but to pick only the ripe ones. I wonder if they use their sense of smell or sight or both to determine which are the ripe ones.
    Not only has the weather been showing some hints of early autumn around here, but some of the trees are too. We only have a few splashes of color here and there going on right now, so don't pack the bags and head up for a color tour just yet, but it will only be about a month or so and we will be heading into the beginning of the main event around here. Still though, nice to see a few of those splashes of color too. This really is a great time of the year.
    Yesterday, the riding crew came over to watch the footage from this years Wyoming trip. I had full plans to put out a feature DVD this autumn, but my surgery in May really threw a monkey wrench into those plans. By the time I was feeling good enough to spend time on the editing and production of the DVD, I had so much other work that HAD to be done, so I once again put it off for another year. The turn out this year was a bit smaller than in previous years, but it was still nice to see some of the guys. I have not seen some of them since the Wyoming trip. Matt has started up a company of his own called Revolution Freeride and is planning to have a feature length DVD for sale at Hay Days in two weeks as well as some items of clothing. If you want to meet up with him and see what he has, all you have to do while at Hay Days is look for this rig. He brought it up yesterday for all of us to see. I have seen pictures of it on his Facebook page, but it is really way more impressive in person and I am glad he went through the trouble to bring it up.
    Speaking of Hay Days, I will mention again that I will be there this year. I will actually be at the Togwotee booth for most of the day on Saturday. I will not be able to attend the event at all on Sunday and I will probably walk around a bit on Saturday as well, but be sure to stop by the Togwotee booth Saturday and say hi!
    So the final first of the season took place today. Nora has a friend in town and she is here with her son. Being the nice and thoughtful guy I am ;), I offered to sacrifice a good part of my Sunday showing him around the Keweenaw on the ATV's. It was a beautiful day for a ride, with temps in the mid 70's and just a few fair weather Cu's (those puffy white clouds that do not bring any precipitation). Again, strange to say that I have not been on the ATV for a ride until just now, but other things in life just got in the way this season. It was a lot of fun to get out though and with the nice walks in the woods, a beach visit with the pups yesterday and then an ATV ride, I sure was able to be reminded of how special a place I live in and also how I really need to slow it down and get out and enjoy the place more, which will be able to be done more now that rehab will be ending in two weeks and a good many of my have-to chores are done.
    So I guess that will wrap it up for this one everyone, but thanks for stopping by and I'll talk to you all next week!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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August 21-
    Another very busy week here in the Keweenaw! Although lots of good stuff was accomplished. On Monday, Al showed up with the first load of firewood. 6 cord was on that load. Another 6 cord came on Thursday. So that set the stage for the main work event for the week, which was to cut and stack as much of the wood as we could during the 2nd annual wood cutting extravaganza. I really cannot express how grateful I am to Mark, Steve and Lenny for coming all this way to help out cutting our wood and for a local boy Owen for also coming over to help with all the work.
    The day could not have been much better for such work, with temps topping out around 70, loads of sunshine and very low humidity. Mark, Steve and I got about 90 minutes of work done on Friday evening and then on Saturday the full crew was there to do the work. We established a nice work rhythm and in a few hours, one stack of logs was done. We worked for a bit longer and then took the strudel break late morning.  Not long after the strudel break was over, we were about half way done with the cutting and it became apparent that we might just be able to get all 12 cord cut and stacked before the day was up or before we all ran out of steam.
    The strudels allowed us to work right through lunch and we kept our eye on the prize- that last log that needed to be cut. That took place shortly before 3 in the afternoon and with the last of the logs cut and stacked and the shelter bulging full with firewood, the crew was able to take a victory pose in front of our well worked for prize.
    After the saws stopped and the wheelbarrows were put away, we headed over to the cabin and ate up some smoked brisket. I actually cooked it the day before because it takes about 14 hours, but was able to reheat it at a lot temp in some of the left over basting juice and I think it was a hit as there was only a few pieces left off of a 8lb slab of meat.
    The shelter is about 2/3rds of the way full and I actually plan to get another 3 cord towards the end of September. If all goes as planned, I will have my deliberator deactivated by then and will be able to use a saw again, so will be able to cut and stack that last 3 cord. So this might have also been the final wood cutting party that will have to be held...we'll see.
    At any rate, we have enough wood cut and stacked to make it through the upcoming heating season with ease and all that is left to do now is to clean up the wood chips. Words just cannot describe the relief and happiness I have that all of that work is done and we were able to get it all done over the weekend and for the most part, I think none of us beat ourselves up too much in the process, although everyone did work extremely hard! Thanks Guys!!!
    Also this week, a friend and I replaced the sliding glass door to the cabin. Ever since it went in, it had not worked right. I had thought that the installation had gone fine and was done properly. We tried adjusting the rollers on the sliding portion of the door, but nothing worked. So it was one of those projects that was always out there to get done, but was never pressing enough to take first step in the project list. That was until sometime last autumn when all of the sudden the track on the bottom cracked a bit and caused opening and closing the door to be an even bigger problem. I did not want to try and replace the door during the winter, but it was moved to the top three spots on the to do list for the warm months chores. So once I got feeling better this summer, I ordered up a new door and we got to put it in last Wednesday. It looks like the problems with the first door were my fault. The very front of the door was not supported correctly, which allowed the frame to bow enough, which caused the initial problems with the sliding of the door, as well as the eventual cracking of the track. This new door is properly supported and slides like a dream. The only issues are we are now waiting on the proper screen door to be sent to us. They sent one for a right sliding door and ours is a left sliding door. 
    On Monday of this week, Nora went back out to pick blueberries. This time heading to the commercial farm, where they give you a rake and you can pick tons, very quickly. She ended up with 25 pounds of wild blueberries picked in about 30 minutes. For those of you that have picked wild blueberries by hand, you all know that to pick 25 pounds by hand without a rake, it would take about 10 full days of picking. Here is a shot of her and Grace in front of the bounty. Wild blueberries are the food with the highest level of anti-oxidants, so I figure if I eat most of those 25 pounds, I might actually get a year or two younger! Actually, they were all frozen and will make nice treats all winter long.
    On Saturday while the boys were off playing with chainsaws and wheelbarrows, the girls were getting ready for Gracie's 2nd year photo shoot. Of course every day is a less formal version of a photo shoot around here, but Nora has wanted to have a photographer come out for some of the milestones to get some pics taken on a more professional level. So while some of the picture taking was going on, I snuck over and took a few shots of my own. Here is Cowgirl Grace with her trusted horsy. A horse needs to be fed, so here she is giving it some grass. If you were thinking that hat looked pretty authentic, you would be right. It was a birthday present from her aunt in Oklahoma who along with her husband live on a working ranch and raise livestock for rodeos. 
    Grace has also taken to gardening pretty hard this summer. She loves taking care of the plants that her and Nora planted this spring. With the lack of rainfall we have had for the past 45 days, that has meant watering the tomatoes and other potted plants just about every day and also giving the plants in the ground a drink or two ever few days. Sometimes Huckie looks to be a little on the dry side too, so she handles that as well!
    Yesterday while we were finishing up with the wood, Grace and Nora headed up to Copper Harbor to hang out with some friends. Grace got to try her hands at fishing and she even caught 2 fish. Perhaps if the rodeo thing does not work out, the professional walleye or bass tour will. By the way, the reason Grace was not wearing a life vest in that last shot is because the boat never left the shoreline.
  There was one last job I asked the wood cutting work crew if they would help me with before they left. I have been eyeballing our neighbors swing set for a few months now and figured that with a little help, we could get over there and grab it while the neighbors were away without them even knowing. The real story is, they were no longer using it and were kind enough to give it to us so that Grace could play on it. So we did go over there after the brisket dinner and disassembled it enough to put it on the snowmobile trailer and then brought it over here and set it up. Grace and Nora got home too late yesterday evening for Grace to play (I don't even think she saw it), but then as soon as breakfast was done this morning, it was time to check out the new addition to the yard. So far I think the slide is her favorite, just wait until I wax it up real good! Here is one final shot of her on the 2 person sit down swing.
    So, hard to believe that there is only a little more than a week and one entry left before August gives way to September. All of us winter lovers sure will be liking that transition I think. I am already liking the cooler evenings and sun setting sooner. This morning we even needed a sweat shirt to stay warm. Nice!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

August 14-
    Well, we are just cruising along through August, on our way to autumn! Another busy week and the month is half over already. The week ahead will also be very busy, so I am sure that before I know it, the month will be 3/4ths of the way done and we will be staring down labor day in no time. Again, I am really enjoying this summer, so am not in a big hurry for it to leave, it is just that I love autumn and winter so much, I get excited as they approach.
    The weather has been pretty agreeable up this way for the week. No heat or humidity and Sunday night we even picked up about 3/4's of an inch of rain. That is the most rain we had seen in one shot in over a month and we really needed it. We picked up a bit more rain at the end of the week, but nothing too much that time. I have had to water the lawn a bit- especially some brown spots that are starting to show up, but I'd say that I have not had to water as much this summer as in previous summers. Probably because May and June were so cool and wet.
    The cool and wet start to summer also delayed the local fruits grown up this way a bit, but with delights like this, it has been well worth the wait. If you all could have tasted how delicious that bowl of wild blueberries and wild raspberries were. It was better than candy, and I mean that. So sweet, but yet with a flavor that only mother nature can create. I think that is one of my favorite things about summer, all the fresh fruit- especially the wild berries we have up here. Nora went and picked about a quart of wild blueberries the other evening, taking about 2 hours to do so. I have been enjoying them as a snack as well as on my cereal in the morning and last night we had an extra special treat with a fresh blueberry pie. Nora is planning to pick more, but plans to head to a u-pick field and use a picking rake. Some friends of hers picked 32 pounds of wild blueberries in about 20 minutes using that method. So it is Nora's plan to pick enough to give us a good supply to freeze for the winter months.
    As mentioned, it was another busy week, more of the same really...Get up, work, go to rehab, come home and do more office work and then out to work on the wood shelter. The good news is that it was completed pretty much right on time, if not a bit early. Nora and Grace even helped me move the wood we already have into the shelter. It feels very good to have that done. We also took down the pool today, so there is now room for the delivery of wood for the season. That will be showing up sometime this week. I bought a new wheelbarrow to help me move the wood around and Grace helped me test it out yesterday. She had a lot of fun being wheeled around the yard in it yesterday. It's a good thing wheelbarrows get tired too, because daddy was starting to get tired wheeling her around in it. :)
    When we were down in S. WI and N. IL at the end of June, we stopped at one of those roadside fireworks places and picked up some stuff. The plan was originally to light them off on the 4th of July, but I fell asleep and then we decided to wait until a little later in the summer when it did not stay light out until midnight. So yesterday we broke them out and put on our own little (and I stress little) show. We started with the smoke bombs and then moved up to some genuine pyrotechnics. Even though it was still light out and the display was not a vibrant because of it, Grace still really enjoyed the show. So we saved one of the bigger displays for when it gets dark even earlier (like before Daddy and Gracie's bedtime) and will light it. I think we will then take a trip to the fireworks stand in Baraga and get some to light off on New Years Eve. Grace even got to partake in the show with a sparkler. Now before you all go and report us to DCFS, she was wearing the OSHA approved head protection and we did not light it until Nora was holding it with her and took it away before the sparks got to close.
    So I am all ready for the wood to arrive and the wood cutting party is this Saturday starting at 9 am, for any of you that still want to show up. Looks like we will have around the same number of workers as last year, which was perfect for one saw going, but it sure would be nice to get two saws going. In any rate, I am very grateful for the help I get and the brisket is in the fridge and will get rubbed down Thursday and smoked Friday. Plenty of it to go around!
    My next big "project" is more of a finishing of a dream come true really. I am going to be insulating and finishing out the wood shop. It is setup pretty nicely now to work when it is warm out, but becomes a storage shed in the winter. That will happen no more as it is going to become the home of Heartwood Furniture. That is the name of the "company" I started years ago before moving up here. I did do some commissioned work for some folks and was getting ready to build something for a studio in Chicago called Sawbridge Studios, but then had to move up here instead. It will probably take several weeks for me to get the shop back in working order and it will never be done as it is the type of thing that will always have little improvements made to it, but I really cannot wait to be working in there, look out the window and see the snow piling up.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. Talk to you all next week.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

August 7-
   Happy August everyone. I realize that the turning of the month did not really give much of a turning of the weather, but if you all can wait just a few days more, some cooler and less humid air will be delivered. It was actually a pretty warm and somewhat humid week up here. Most days were in the 80's, with a few in the mid to upper 80's and dewpoints were solidly in the 60's, with some upper 60's and even a few 70 degree dewpoints seen.
    We made good use of the pool this week and I believe that we have used the pool more this year than in any previous year. Part of that has to do with playing in it with Grace and part of it has to do with the weather. The last two summers, the weather was a lot cooler, especially at night, so it was a bit more work to keep it warm and not as needed either, as it was comfortable to be outside during the day and especially in the evenings. This will be the last week of lounging in the pool for us as I will need to take it down next weekend to make room for the wood delivery. I think I plan to take it down next Sunday or Monday. It goes pretty quickly, the longest time being to just drain the darn thing.
    Speaking of wood, the second annual wood cutting party has been moved up a week. I know last entry I said it would be on the 27th of August, but we had to move it to the 20th. So if anyone is looking for something to do and wants to come hang out and have a ton of fun cutting and stacking firewood, you all are welcome! I think we already have the same amount of bodies showing up to cut the wood as we had last year, but this year I am taking delivery of 3 times as much wood as we cut last year because last year I had wood left over. Last year it took us about 2 hours to cut and stack all the wood, so this year will be a little longer, but if we get two saws going with enough runners and stackers, we could probably still rip through it in less than a day's work.
    As long as I am making announcements, I can say that I will be at Hay Days this year. This will be my first experience at the event and I am looking forward to it. Hopefully the weather will cooperate with cool temps and no rain! I will be at the Togwotee booth all day on Saturday, but am not sure if I will be able to be there at all on Sunday as I will need to get back and work. So if you are planning to be at Hay Days, be sure to stop by and say hi!
    So the big news this week was Grace doubling her age. There is only one time in life you get to do that! Thursday was her second birthday and she started the day by sleeping in a bit and then kicking back, watching a few cartoons and having a nice cold glass of milk with her buddy Huckie. After that, it was time for breakfast- her favorites, pancakes! Her and Nora then took me down to rehab and dropped me off and did a bit of shopping in town. We got back and had lunch and then she took a nap while Nora and I grabbed some pool time. After the nap, it was time to open up a few presents. The big one this year was a brand new Ford F150. Daddy tricked it out with a Lumberjack sticker and a custom license plate. She liked those plenty, but is also already looking into a lift kit, WARN winch, Magnaflo exhaust and chrome headers/valve covers. Both Nora and I thought she might be a little intimidated by the truck, but not Grace. She jumped right in and learned what the gas peddle did very quickly! She is still working on the steering thing a bit and did end up in the stickers once on Thursday, but who hasn't ended up in the stickers a time or two?!
    Of course what would a birthday be without cake! While in town, Grace and Nora stopped off at the bakery and bought some birthday cake. Grace even picked out the kind of cake she wanted. She made quick work of blowing out the candles and proceeded to gobble down most of her piece.
    After cake, we moved onto some more presents and this year is a lot different than last year. Last year the excitement was ripping off the paper, but then there was not a lot of immediate interest in what was inside the wrapping paper. This year, the unwrapping was still a ton of fun, but so was seeing what was inside.
    One of the presents was a genuine cowgirl hat from her aunt in Oklahoma. So Grace had to go and put on her cowgirl boots and pose for us. The posing then turned into a little Texas Two Step and then a ride on her pink pony.
    Of course with her being two, she can legally go out and get a job- so long as she has a permission slip from her parents. Both Nora and I thought that it was about time she started paying her way around here, so she went out and got a job at the local doughnut shop. The pay is not all that great until she make junior manager, but she does get to bring home all the left over doughnuts from the day. Here she is getting ready for work this morning.
    Today was the day for her big birthday party. My mom drove up for the event and we had the family that takes care of her on weekdays come as well as Nora's aunt and cousin and some friends from Lake Linden. We had a nice dinner and then more cake! This was really the main cake event and as you can see the theme was horses. She actually did a pretty good job of blowing out the candles. No spit on the cake what so ever. The cake also passed Graces inspection and got her seal of approval before we all could eat it.
    After cake, it was onto more presents. She got lots of books (she loves to read), lots of crayons and markers and some other good stuff like a doll and a bed for her doll. Huck and Millie were just riveted by the whole event.
    So all in all, Grace handled her second birthday very well and seems well adjusted to her new age. She is 33 inches tall now, which is 5 inches taller than she was on her first birthday. All is well with the rest of the Dee family. The pups are still having to wait for me to finish up with rehab and for temps to cool a bit before we start taking our hikes in the woods, but we have been taking them for some morning or evening walks around the hood.
    I did not do any work on the wood shed. I did pick up the wood for the siding on Friday and do plan to start putting it up on Tuesday. I want to have all the siding up and the current wood we have loaded into the shelter by the time the wood arrives next week. I guess it is more of I HAVE to have that done as it will be nearly impossible to put the siding up like I want to with wood in the shelter and the current pile of wood is sitting where the new delivery will go. Looks like I have my work cut out for me this week! Thankfully it looks to be a lot cooler and less humid this week than last.
    So I guess that gets you all caught up on things for this week. Talk to you all next week.  Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 

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