September 25-
    Really hard to believe that it is the final Sunday of September already. I know I talked about how fast time is going by in the past entry, but it sure is the theme again this week. The one thing I forgot to touch on last week was how autumn sure seems to arrive in a fairly abrupt way up this way. I can remember several years ago, while I was still living in Lake Linden that we were in some pretty hot temps and high humidity in early September and I was anxiously awaiting a cold front. That front actually was marked by a fairly decent gust of wind and temps and humidity that both dropped noticeably in the hours after the frontal passage and we never saw heat or humidity the rest of the season.
    This year, the passage was just as abrupt and even more dramatic, with showers and thunderstorms rolling through two weeks ago and knocking down some pretty warm temps and respectable humidity. Neither the temps nor the humidity have been high since that front rolled through and seeing as though it is the end September, I think it is safe to say temps and humidity will not be getting out of hand the rest of this season.
    Changing gears a bit, this week was the first since early June that I did not have a cardiac rehab appointment to go to. I was all excited to get lots of work done in the shop and as luck would have it, I started feeling sick last Sunday night and have been down with a pretty bad cold all week. It has been nothing more than the typical cold, with a sore throat, stuffed up nose and cough. The sore throat left by Tuesday, but the other symptoms continue as I type. The other issues is a lack of energy. At first I thought that I might be taking the virus harder as I am still in what would be considered the recovery period from my surgery and I also have a weakened immune system from my battle and treatment for the cancer when I was a kid, but it sounds like many others getting this thing is feeling the same way. 
    Nora came down with it this week, but was able to fend it off better than I and was able to still work all week. Grace seemed a little off most of the week and then by the end of the week, her nose was running, so she likely caught it from dear old dad as well.
    So to make a long story short, I did not do a lot this week. I did do all of my work and also took the pups on our morning 2 mile walk, but there were also a few afternoon naps taken and lots of doing nothing as well. I did finish up the walls and did a few more things in the shop, but my hope was to have the ceiling and thus the main construction done by this time and I am at least a week behind.
    This week will be shortened by a day for me as well as I head to Marquette to see about getting my defibrillator deactivated tomorrow. I sure hope that can get done and I can start playing with chain saws again. Actually, I also have a gas powered leaf blower and weed wacker that I would like to be able to use again. Plus I was really hoping to learn how to do some entry level welding. So we'll see, but I think the prospects are pretty good, seeing as though the cardiologist at the Mayo said it would be fine as long as I had not had any arrhythmia and to the best of my knowledge I have not had any. I can say for sure that the device has not had to shock my hear back into a normal rhythm. More on this next week I guess!
    With the change of season underway, some of the woodland creatures are becoming more bold in their acquisition of food. A few weeks back, a large hornets nest that was being built next to the wood shelter was destroyed and there really is only one thing that I can think of that will do that... a black bear. Huck and Millie were pretty interested in sniffing out the area the next day and ended up finding a piece of the honeycomb, but there was not a lick of honey in it. Then the other day, we had this fella show up on our septic field. I named him "Backstraps" as that is what I think he will become in a little over a month if he even lasts that long. Not because I am going to hunt him, but because he paid little notice to us in the cabin and Nora even jumped in her car and went to the store and all he did was keep a casual eye on her as she did that. So either he will be careless around the road or will stumble upon a hunter this season and the rest will be history. I had to shoo him off when he went from eating the grass to eating the leaves off the peach tree.
    Jumping back to the weather, we had rains fall for much of the week. The same upper air low that plagued much of the Great Lakes region this week kept us in unsettled weather for most of the week as well. Today was the first day with sunshine in many days and it did feel good. That is the only thing I do not look forward to in the winter is the lack of clear skies. It does keep our overnight temps up and does bring the fairly constant snow, but it would be nice to see the sun more than twice a month!
    Anyway, we did need the rain and it also keeps us in, which means that Nora and Gracie get the itch to bake! I sure do love it when the aprons come out and the mixing bowl is fired up. The treat this time was blueberry muffins. Grace sure does love to help Nora bake and I sure do love to help stock away what they bake! I think if I were to ever go back and re-train for a career, it would either be a high-end builder or a baker. Kind of a large difference in the two I know, but I really love the end results of both. Somehow I think the builder would be way better for my health and maybe profits!
    This weekend was the weekend that Nora took her annual ATV trip with "the girls". This started out 4 years ago and was interrupted by my first heart surgery, but then they were able to go last year and she just got back about an hour ago from this years trip. They are not gone long, but do spend the night at one of the local establishments- this year it was Lac La Belle Lodge. That put me in full charge of the household which is really not as dangerous as it might sound. I am not as skilled at all the child care tasks as Nora, but can get by in a pinch and we had fun. Between fighting the colds we had and the weather being off, we pretty much stayed inside for most of the time. I think we ended up watching Snow White about 17 times. I am glad that she has gotten into the longer length DVD's, but I think I will be stopping at Target in Marquette tomorrow to stock up on some more Disney films so that Snow White can take a break!
    We did get out this morning as the weather had cleared and Graces favorite thing to do is play on "the playground" as she calls it. I don't think there has been a day that has gone by that she has either played on it or really wanted to play on it, but been rained out. She really is a little dare devil and loves to "go fast" on all the swings. On the one swing where she is more enclosed, we actually swing her high enough that her head goes up into the trees! I suspect that the only thing that will stop us from going out there is when the snow gets too deep. So thanks neighbor George for giving it to us and also to Mark and Steve for helping me get it and set it up.
    We also took a little ride in the truck today. The color show is starting to ramp up. We are still over a week away from peak, but there are some eye openers going on already. This is the look down our road from the end of our driveway. I guess it has been cloudy for so long up here, the camera forgot how to handle sunshine as the best colors are washed out by the sunshine, but I think it gives the picture that we are still at about 65% pale green and 35% autumn color right now. We headed down Cliff Drive as I thought there might be some good colors going up there right now, but things there were actually further behind than we have here on our property. The good news is that things will only get better in the next 10-14 days and I think the peak will come the second weekend of October, but next weekend will still provide some pretty neat views to those visiting and there might even be some colors left the third weekend.
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this one. Talk to you next month!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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September 18-
    Boy, another week has flown by and we are already 2/3rds of the way through September. I really have know idea where the month has gone to. I suppose that happens when you are burning the candle from both ends. It was another week, but the final week of cardiac rehab. I went in Monday and Wednesday for the regular sessions and then again on Friday to get some workouts to do at home. The folks there are really great and were more than happy to spend some time with me on Friday so that I could get some stuff to do to keep whooping me into shape. I an very pleased with where I am right now, but still want to take it to a higher level. I have been watching some snowmobile videos in the past few weeks and have really paid close attention to the shape that the riders are in and I still have a ways to go, but am headed in the right direction.
    In addition to the rehab, I have been getting into the shop to continue finishing it out as well. I did not get to spend a ton of time in there this past week, with rehab and also taking care of Grace a few afternoons, but I was able to get the walls around 85% done. There is still one course of T/G to put up on the back wall and I have a small section of the front wall to do and then other than some trim work, the walls will be completely done. Next will be some framing for the ceiling and then the insulation and then the wood for the ceiling. Once that is all done, if you are living anywhere within a 5 mile radius of me, you will here a WAHOOOO! This has really been a lot of work for some reason and although I am enjoying it and taking my time to make sure it is done right, I will be very happy to be done with the construction phase and to move onto the setting up phase and then to the using phase.
    The weather up here has been quite autumn like this past week. A jacket of one type or another has been needed just about every day- even during the warmer periods of the day. We also had our killing freeze occur this week as well. Thursday morning we were down into the upper 20's for several hours. Most of our plants had already decided to call it quits, but we did still have quite a few peaches on the tree. So Wednesday evening after dinner, Grace, Nora, the pups and I went out to pick them off the tree. I mentioned everyone because everyone helped. The pups got a few that were hanging low and wasted no time eating them up. We were careful to make sure they did not eat any of the stones, but I think they somehow already knew to not eat them. All in all, we ended up with a few more dozen in that final picking and all told we probably had about 4 dozen that were edible off that little tree. I can say that while you almost feel a bit of guilt pulling the fruit off this tree that worked so hard to produce it, the tree does look happier that it is not all weighted down by the fruit!
    Friday was the Calumet High School Homecoming and while we do not have a child in high school, Nora does work at the middle school and Grace is just a few years away from heading off to the grade school, so we figured we would get into school spirit and take in the parade and the football game. I wore my Calumet Copper Kings baseball cap and Gracie wore her Calumet Copper Kings hoodie. The parade was fun to watch and Grace had fun watching it, several of her baby sitters were in it and she thought it was neat that she knew someone in the parade. Not quiet as large as other parades up here, but I went to a HS that was probably 7-8 times larger than Calumet and I don't think we even had a parade at all.
    We ended up staying just a bit past half time. Calumet was up 20-0 at that point and won the game 40-something to 14 against rival Houghton. Poor Houghton, they just do not do very well in most sports. I think the fact that many parents of the students work at Tech and thus academics are put on a higher priority than athletics. Weird, huh? :) Actually, all of the schools up here produce some star academics and some star athletes and I am always amazed at the quality and caliber of both from such small communities. 
    About the only other item of interest this week was the Superior Snowmobile Club's trail work session. I went down with one of the therapists from rehab who is also an ATV/snowmobiler and who I got to be friends with on Saturday to help out. Fortunately for us, a lot of the work had already been done Thursday and Friday, so we went out for a few hours, did some brushing and signing and then were done by lunch time. It was a beautiful day to be outdoors, working or otherwise. Clear blue skies and temps in the 50's and 60's, so we went and sat in the sun, on our ATV's, at a spot down near the lake and had lunch provided to us. There is also a dinner that is provided for all the workers and quite frankly, I could have gotten off my ATV and laid down to take a nap for a few hours, but I just did not feel like hanging out for another 5-6 hours until dinner was served, so we headed back north. I was able to get a few hours of work done in the shop and also got to eat supper with Grace and Nora. 
    For those wanting to attend the Keweenaw trail work session, it will be Friday and Saturday, October 21 and 22. There is free lodging for all workers provided by Lac La Belle Lodge in LLB and also by the Pines in Copper Harbor. Be sure to call either of them ahead of time and reserve your room. Lunches will be served both days (courtesy of the Pines) and dinner will be served on Saturday (my smoked brisket and pork shoulder, as well as some goodies from Troy and Cathy at LLB). We stage out of Lac La Belle and meet around 9:30 in the morning both days. It's work, but we do not work you too hard and a good time is had by all in the backwoods of the Keweenaw.
    Well, I guess that covers it for this one. Hopefully I can get that construction done in the shop soon so I can start taking some adventures in the woods with the pups.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

September 11-
    Without a doubt, this will be a pretty short one. First, I did not do anything too extraordinary during the work week and then did travel to Hay Days for the weekend, which I will talk about, but I also did not take any pictures during the work week or at Hay Days, but do have one shot of Gracie taken today to share with you in a bit.
    I can say that the weather the past 7 days has been about as perfect as one could every want for warm season outdoor activities. Temps were in the 70's all week, with 80's both yesterday and today. The air was nice and dry, so it felt wonderful to be out in the sun and also allowed night time temps to drop off into the 50's and make for some great sleeping weather. We even had some upper 30's for lows to start the week and that caused me to have to break out the gloves for the morning walks with the pups both Tuesday and Wednesday. 
    The dry weather all week was good for outdoor activities, but we really do need rain. The little bit we got last Sunday has not been enough and things are really dry around here. I am thankful that the leaves have not fallen yet with as dry as it has been, or we would be living in a tinder box. There are some rains coming this week and much cooler temps, so the fire danger should drop some, but I am not sure how much the grass will be able to green.
    It also looks to get pretty cold the middle to end of this week and some areas of the UP could even see a few wet snowflakes fly by Wednesday night or early Thursday. I doubt that any accumulation will occur, but the lake does look to be involved, so that can always toss out a few surprises. I doubt that I will see any flakes as we are too influenced by the lakes warmer temps this time of the year, but still strange to think I am sitting here in shorts and a t-shirt right now and am a little warm, but in just 3 days will need to bundle up almost as if it were winter out. For those headed up for the trail work session in Twin Lakes later this week and weekend, the weather looks to be good, with dry weather to build in and temps to gradually warm, but still be on the chilly side.
    I have been worried about our peaches making it to ripeness before the first freeze hits, but it looks like we will make it as they are all reaching ripeness right now. The big problem now becomes what to do with about 2 to 3 bushels of peaches! Actually, I think we have things figured out. Many will get eaten in the next week while they are off the tree fresh. Some will go to friends, while others have gone into a cobbler that is baking at the moment and if we (Nora) have time, then the rest will get canned. If not canned, then frozen. The dogs have picked a few off the tree already and I suppose they will get a few, but with the pits removed.
    I did not get to do much with the shop this week. The drywall was finished and I did purchase the paint, but did not have time to paint it. The wood for the tongue and groove is also done and I will pick it up either today or tomorrow and get to hanging it and then probably paint. In either case, the walls should be fully done by the end of this coming week and then the ceiling should be able to get done the following week and then I can start to put the woodshop back together.
    So I guess the second to last item on the agenda for today is my freshman experience to Hay Days this weekend. First I would like to thank Kris and his wife for letting me stay with them while I was down there. It was a perfect setup for going to the event and sure uncomplicated things for me. I did not get to partake in the big mess that happened last year with getting to the event and parking. However, I have heard about it from lots of folks and am glad that I did not get to partake in it! I can say that this year was bug free from as best as I could tell. We arrived around 7:30 in the morning and were able to drive right into the parking area and then walk right up to pay and walk right in. Once in, I browsed the vendors section a little, but did not have the time needed to see all the vendors. I suppose one could see all of them in one day, but you would have to keep moving!. 
    For anyone that has not gone, the event is huge, probably about 5-8 times the size of the snowmobile shows held indoors. For as huge as it was, they were very organized. Just about anything that could be covered was- including tanker trucks going up and down the walking isles, spraying water to help keep the dust down. I spent the majority of my day at the Togwotee booth as promised and got to meet a lot of folks from the site. I did not count, but would estimate it to be over 100 for the day easy. It is always a lot of fun to meet the folks that come to the site and help make it what it is and I am looking forward to meeting more at the Milwaukee show next month.
    My final item before I go take a nap is to share just one pic of Gracie taken just about an hour ago as she was winding down for a nap. She really loves to read books and is now "reading" them to herself. She can't read just yet, but does know what each book is about, based on the front picture and how much they have been read to her, so she will turn the pages and talk about what is happening and is actually spot on as far as recognizing what the storyline is for that particular set of pages.
    Well, time for Dadda to sneak in a nap while all is quiet around here.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

September 4-
    Welcome to autumn everyone! Another summer is gone and in the books. Much like last year, the weather changed almost in concert with the changing of the calendar. This week started out warm and by mid week, we even had some humidity to deal with, but today we struggled to even warm to 60 degrees and we have had lake enhanced clouds and some scattered showers. A jacket was even needed to keep warm while outside today. So our first taste of autumn weather has happened, but it looks like temps will warm some by the second half of this week and beyond, but not get hot and the humidity does not look to be an issue either, so perhaps the true test of summer being over will take place this week- the removal of air conditioners from the windows.
    Well, this past week has been another pretty busy one. I am still plugging and chugging it through rehab. Only 4 more sessions. Two this week and two next week and then I will be done! In a way I will miss going to it, the persons running the rehab sure know their stuff and do a great job and the others are rehab are all very friendly and we have some laughs. The things I won't miss is the 30 minute drive there and back, the 3 hours lost 3 days a week due to the commute and rehab itself and the 200 dollars or so it costs me extra to drive the big green truck down there and back 3 times a week. I will be keeping up with a pretty vigorous workout regime once I am done with rehab, but will be able to do it in the friendly confines of our compound and at a time of my choosing.
    On Monday, it was still very summery up here and the ATV's were a little dusty from the ride last Sunday, so Grace and I decided to wash them up a little. Grace was a good helper and did both the soaping up and the rinsing off of the bikes. She really loves to do things like that and I hope that it will continue when she gets older, as it will be nice to have an extra helper around here for Nora and I!
    We also had some fun this week. Yesterday it was still pretty warm out, so before Graces afternoon nap, Nora and Grace came up with idea to take a "nature walk" through the property. I was doing some work in the shop, but was at a good break point and you certainly do not have to ask the pups twice if they want to go for a walk in the woods, so off the 5 of us went into the woods to explore nature. It is nice that Grace is now able to get around the woods all on her own and does not even need to be helped over a blow-down. We don't have much of a trail system and the only real trail I did make was pretty grown in because we had not used it at all this spring and summer. It did not matter to Grace who trounced through the woods just fine. We made our way to the back edge of our property and posed for a picture next to "Old Granddad". It's a giant, old white birch, which still looks to be pretty healthy. Normally those trees do not live too long. Anyway, Mom wanted a close up of the two of us, so we posed for one more picture. I'm glad we did as I think that is one of the better of the two of us while in a pose. Then it was time to head back and manage those darn blow-downs! It would be remiss of me to not include some shots of the pups that Nora took while on the way back. Here is a cute one of old-Mill-dog and here is a somewhat blurred one of Huck. However, I commend Nora highly for even being able to get any kind of a shot of Huck as he is not one to stand still while in the woods. We made it back home safe and sound and I sure am glad I have a family that loves the wood so much, because I am fairly certain that I could not live anywhere else!
    The main activity that has been keeping me busy this week has been the starting of the "remodel" of the wood shop. I put remodel in quotes because it is not really a remodel in the true sense of the word, but rather an finishing out of the shop. It has been set up and been a fully functional wood shop for the past 5 years, but was never insulated and thus never heated. I do have the in-floor heat in the shop and so one of my goals this build season was to get it insulated and finished out so that I can use it all year round to build stuff. So the week started by dismantling everything, which was a HUGE undertaking. 5 years of accumulated stuff. Most of it woodworking related, but some of it just stuff that could not find any other home. The list of things included several hundred board feet of cherry that was all nice and neatly staked in the shop that needed to find a temporary home while I did the walls and ceilings, so I stacked it on some sawhorses under the lean-to. I under estimated just how much cherry I had and as I put more and more wood on these poor saw horses, I was beginning to worry if they would even hold the load- especially since one was not on the most level of ground. I literally put the final piece on the pile and the whole thing went crashing to the ground! The horse that was on the un-level ground buckled a bit and that was enough to bring the hole operation down. I surveyed the mess and decided that the wood would not really be in any harm by not being on the horses and just covered up the one end that was closest to the weather and all is fine. 
    The rest of the dismantling of the shop went very well, although I have determined that I have a real problem when it comes to saving scraps of wood. I guess my thought is if it is big enough to be of some use at a point in the future, why throw it away? Well, I turned up so many scraps that about half of them went into the wood boiler and I have not had to add a single log of wood to the boiler all week! At one point, the boiler was so full that I could not fit another piece of scrap wood into it! Anyway, by weeks end, I had the dismantling of the shop done and everything was piled into the center of the shop to give me full access to the walls.
    Even though this was a "want-to" project and not a "have-to" project, there was a bit of a sense of urgency to get the walls fully exposed to work on. The reason being is that I was going to insulate them using a spray foam product. It is the same product that I used in the front shop and it works great. It is easy to apply and when done gives me an R-35 in a 6" wall cavity. Pretty important when you are talking about adding another 1200 square feet of space to keep warm all winter. The urgency arose in the fact that the manufacturer says to not use it when temps are below 70 degrees and we are at a time of the year when such conditions can be harder and harder to come by. I knew the temps would hold there for all of this week, but then we would get too cool for several days, so I really wanted to get the foam sprayed this week. That goal was achieved. Actually it only took a few hours to spray all three walls. The 4th wall is shared with the other shop that is heated, so no insulation is needed.
    The next step was to put down a layer of OSB on the lower 4 feet of the walls, which also went pretty smoothly. Then over that I put a layer of 1/4" drywall. My goal is to have the lower 4 feet be a finished and painted drywall, with tongue and groove the rest of the way up. I put the OSB behind the drywall to give me something to be able to screw into with ease. It is a shop and while most of the lower 4 feet of wall space will be blocked by benches or tools, I will still be wanting to hang stuff in spots and did not want to deal with the hassle of drywall anchors. I was able to get the first coat of mud done today and plan to put the second coat of mud on tomorrow and hopefully paint Tuesday. I have the wood for the tongue and groove, it just needs to go down the road to be turned into tongue and grooved pieces. Hopefully that will happen this week and I can get to hanging some of it before the weekend. After that, it will be onto the ceiling and then once that is done, the real fun begins...re-building the shop exactly as I want it. The nice thing is I have the foam insulation done, so I am not up against any firm deadline anymore- although I do want to get it fully insulated and the heating hooked up before the real cold arrives in a month or so.
    Not much else to talk about. Even though summer has ended, we are still waiting for our peach crop to ripen. The poor tree is so loaded, it about ready to keel over! I'd say that we have 5-6 dozen peaches on the tree. In many spots they are clustered together like grapes. I did pick one and ate it today. It was OK, but much like a store bought peach. Not quite ripe, with the sweetness and flavor that only a freshly picked and fully ripened peach has. Once you have one like that, you will not want to have a store bought one ever again! Talk to you all next week- maybe Monday as Sunday will be a travel day for me.
    Before I sign off, I almost forgot. I have one last story to tell you. The other night, Grace and I were cuddling on the couch together and just very relaxed watching something on the TV. She stopped watching what ever it was, turned her head around and looked up and right into my eyes and said "I Love You Dadda". Talk about cardiac rehab! There are absolutely no words to describe how I felt to hear those words from her for the first time- especially in a manner like that.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 

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