June 24-
    So, first off, my apologies for not writing last Sunday and secondly, my apologies for forgetting to say that I would not be writing. Nora, Grace and I snuck out of town and I think that when I wrote on the 10th, I had thoughts that I might write while out of town, but just did not have the time last Sunday and figured I would wait until today to get back on track.
    We all went and visited the land of the trolls for a few days. Nora's family pretty much all lives in the greater Port Huron vicinity and her nephew graduated from high school and so that gave us a reason to go down there. That and the fact that in the almost 10 years that Nora and I have known each other, I have never been to Port Huron.
    I am also a little embarrassed to say that in the 13 plus years I have lived in the state of Michigan and the 46 plus years I have lived on this planet, I have never been across the Mackinaw Bridge! I have actually seen it from the air and have been to places like Mackinaw Island, but never across the bridge. Here is a shot of me not looking where I was going while crossing the bridge and here is a shot of Grace not looking scared at all as we crossed. Of course she was in the early stages of a chocolate induced coma, but still. Not scared at all. Nora... Well, that was a slightly different story. Actually, she said she did pretty good this crossing and I believe her, as she did not seem to scared to me. I do have to admit that I was pretty surprised at the wimpy guard rails that they have on that bridge. Perhaps there was more to them than met the eye, but it sure seemed to me that if a car, or especially a truck, hit them with any amount of speed greater than about 25 mph, they would not be able to hold you back and it's a VERY long way down! In any case, we made it across both times just fine.
    It was also my first drive down I-75 through MI. I have been to the Houghton Lake area many, many years ago as a young lad, but got there via aircraft and have been to Ann Arbor for a conference and to the Holland area a few times on a family trip. Been to the Detroit airport a few times, but other than that, my MI time has been spent in the UP. It was neat to drive through those parts of lower MI though. I always wondered what things looked like in northern lower MI and now I know...at least some of it.
    I was also very impressed with the southern UP along the shores of Lake MI. In fact, I have to say that if we ever one the lottery, I could see getting myself a chunk of beachfront property there and putting up a nice little summer cottage. I think it would be the perfect spot to spend a lot of the summer. When things get hot in the UP, we usually have a southerly breeze or at least one with a southerly component to it and being right on the shores of Lake MI, it would be cooler. Plus the lake warms up nicer than Lake Superior in the summer, so it would be more tolerable to swim in and some of the beaches we drove by were very beautiful. So winters in the deep snow of the Keweenaw and summers on the warm and sunny shores of the southern UP would be just fine. Of course, summers in the Keweenaw aren't so bad either!
    In fact, we continue to have a wonderful summer so far. It got pretty warm and humid when we were down in Port Huron and it sure was nice to get back to the comforts of home and the Keweenaw. Plus it was great to have the pups with us again. We left them in the kind and capable hands of our friend who has a boarding kennel in Atlantic Mine (Top Dog Kennels), but it is just so hard for me to leave them behind- especially because I work at home and we are like the Three Musketeers all day. The pups really love hanging out with all of us and Huck and Gracie have an extra special bond. The morning after we got back, Nora found the two of them cuddling together on the bed. That was not accident that he had his arm around her either, as I have taught him what a hug is and if I ask him to, he will give me one.
    It was also nice to see Nora's family again. It had been over a year since I had seen some of them. One of Nora's brothers is a big time fisherman. He even owns a bait shop in Port Huron and of course has a nice boat for fishing on Lake Huron. He was nice enough to take us out on the water Friday and that was probably the highlight of the trip for me. I just love boating and it was neat to see the Port Huron area from the water. There is a huge bridge that I-69 uses to cross into Canada and we also got to see some of the MI shoreline. Of course Grace had an absolute blast as well. I don't think there is any recreational activity that girl does not love!
    The day before we left to go downstate, I celebrated my 46th birthday. Gracie and Nora baked me a delicious cake and we also had a nice dinner at one of the local restaurants that offers up a free dinner to folks on their birthday. 46, boy, I am getting ever closer to the big 5 0. 
    It was a pretty busy week this week. We got back into town late on Monday and then played catch up for most of the rest of the week. The pups and us settled back into home life just fine and the weather has been pretty nice. We did get a little warm earlier in the week, but it did not keep us from hitting the woods for a hike
    The bugs are still not too bad. We got quite a bit of rain in the period we were gone up through this past Wednesday, but the mosquitos have not gotten bad. The black flies seem to have run their course, so the main culprit right now is the deer flies. They are not any worse than any other year and are really only a problem on our walks. It seems like they really hone in on you when you walk and also seem to be attracted more to the dogs than me and even more attracted to Huck than Millie. So poor Huck seems to bear the brunt of their attack, but his fur is thick enough to keep him from getting bit in most spots and when I see one land on his face will get it for him.
    With us going out of town, I did not want to put the pool up, but now that we are back, I waited for the weather to clear and put it up on Thursday. It took about 24 hours to fill and even though the water out of the spigot is very cold, that did not stop Gracie from wanting to swim on Friday. I did actually start heating the water as I was filling it and did not wait for it to be full, but even so, the water temp Friday afternoon was about 68 degrees and even Grace did not last too long. By yesterday midday, it was already at about 80 degrees and Nora, Grace and I all went in, but did not stay in too-too long. Today it was a wonderful 88 degrees and we stayed in for about 90 minutes. The main thing that chased us out today was the fact that the air temp was only about 65 degrees while we were swimming. However, the sun was out and with the water so warm, we were fine.
   As mentioned, we finally got some decent rains. We were getting REALLY dry and good old Mother Nature made up for it in short order. We picked up about .40" while out of town, but then some big storms hit Wednesday afternoon and we picked up another 1.7" during that activity. The rains were accompanied by some severe weather. In fact much of the Keweenaw was under a severe thunderstorm warning at one point or another and there were even spots that were under a tornado warning for a spell. It's rather unusual for our neck of the woods to be under some kind of severe weather warning when it comes to thunderstorms. We have it happen probably about once a year or so. A bit to our south, it happens a lot more, but the big lake really likes to take some of the punch out of the storms we see.
    Nora was just going to pick up Grace when the leading edge of the main complex of storms was about to hit. She took some pictures of the sky as it grew angrier and angrier. Here is HWY 41 near Ahmeek, looking southwest. Here is a little further up the road towards Allouez and here was a shot after going through Copper City. I would have been interested to see if there was any rotation in the clouds in that last shot as I believe it was the storm that prompted the tornado warning for areas just off to our east about 5 miles. No tornados were reported though.
    We all survived the thunderstorms fine and did not even lose power. We are now gearing up for the rest of the summer, including all the fun for the 4th of July. This year Grace said she wants to be in the bike parade in Mohawk, so we will have to get her bike into the shop and start the mods for that. A month after the 4th of July comes the 4th of August, which will be Graces 3rd birthday. So we are excited for that too. Not long after that and summer will be over. Not that I want it to at this point, but it sure is flying by this year!
    I guess that about covers it for this one. Take care and...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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June 19-
    Forgot to mention that we would be out of town this past weekend. We are back now, but have a pretty full plate most of the week, so will write Sunday as usual. - John
June 10-
    Ok, I'm back. I have to admit, it felt pretty good to take a week off. I guess I can just state real quickly that all is well with my heart. I just really felt burnt out and like I needed a break and it was nice.
    But as they say: "Break's over, get back to work!", so here I am. I guess I can start out by saying that with the exception of yesterday and today, the weather has been nearly perfect summer weather. Temps in the 70's for highs, with low humidity and lots of sunshine. Not so good for my drying out lawn, but for taking walks in the woods or just about anything else outside, the weather has been about as perfect as I could ever order up.
    Yesterday and today we have warmed up and also popped the humidity. Our high yesterday was 83 and today we are at 88 and climbing. Dewpoints both days have been running in the mid 60's too. I was fortunate enough to see it coming, so got the air conditioners set up back when things were more comfortable and we are nice and comfortable inside.
    Going back a bit more than a week now, Nora, Grace and I were invited to a wedding up here and so we all got spiffied and went and had us a good time. Here is a picture of my two beautiful girls and here is a shot of Grace and I cutting it up on the dance floor. We all had a fun time and it was kind of fun to get all dressed up, at least for a short while, although I do not miss having to get all slicked up to go to work anymore!
    I think when I last wrote, I was talking about building some planters for the girls vegetables. Well, things took longer in that department than I though, but I did finish them out this week. Initially I thought that I would build them out of a composite material and avoid the pressure treated stuff, since we would be growing food in them. But, then when I went to go pick up the materials and was about to be charged over $600, I just about fainted. Nora's reaction was even more extreme and after doing some research into the hazards of today's pressure treated woods and food grown in close proximity to it, we decided to return the composite material and go with pressure treated! Just to be safe I did line the insides of the boxes with plastic sheeting and landscape fabric, so the soil will not touch the treated wood, but everything that I saw on the web seemed to point to the fact that with the new way they are treating the wood, there is no real health risk to use it near plants that will be consumed.
    So now we have some nice, permanent planters that will not tip over every time the winds blows and will provide enough soil that we should have some decent vegetables to harvest later this summer. We even had a little extra room so I planted some herbs and a few strawberry plants. In a few years (when I have recovered from the home addition to come) I plan to make some larger versions of those planters in a dedicated spot for a garden. Nora and Gracie will do their vegetables that they love so much and I will do up all different kinds of berries that we all love so much! The trick will be to keep the critters from eating it all before we do.
    As mentioned, the weather has been just about perfect the past 2 weeks and in fact, I used my time off last Sunday to take a walk in the woods with the whole family. Believe it or not, this was actually the first walk in the woods for Grace. Meaning this is the first time that we have gone on a trail in the woods (away from our own property) and where she walked all on her own. Prior to this, we brought her stroller and pushed her in it. But she has grown so much  and we were hoping to tire her out that we decided she could just hoof it all on her own, which she did. In fact, the first half mile or so, she ran! She did start to tucker out a bit and ended up walking most of the rest of the time and at one point even got a little help from dear old dad. However, as we neared the end of the walk, she decided she wanted to have a race to the end, so here she is pulling away from Huck and I in a sprint for the finish. Here is a shot of the pups doing what they do best...noses to the ground checking something out.
    The pups and I have been taking pretty regular afternoon walks the past week or so. I was really starting to feel bad about not doing anything fun with them in the afternoons. My health is certainly not holding me back anymore and it was something that Burt and Baileys used to do just about every day. So I am cutting back my other activities in the afternoon and getting out with the pups. Needless to say, they are happy about that decision!
    With things heating yesterday, we paid a visit to the big lake. When we left our house, it was sunny and 83 degrees and by the time we got to the beach we were going to play at, the temp was 57 and there was a thick fog! You could hardly see more than a hundred yards! It's just amazing how much the big lake impacts the atmosphere. Even though the air temp was chillier and there was a thick fog, the sun was still pretty strong and there was no wind, so we all were pretty comfortable.
    Grace loves the water so much that she had no problem going right in as soon as we got there. She even managed to go in most of the way, while chasing Millie while she fetched a ball. Here she is on her way back in, I do see a bit of pain on her face, but she did not complain a bit. The pups are totally unphased by the temp of the water and spent the entire hour fetching one toy or another. Me, I barely dipped a toe in that giant tub of ice water!
   As I type, the girls are at a friends house on the Portage Lake and I am sure Grace is busy swimming there. Before they headed down and after lunch today, it was hot and I had the sprinkler going to try and save our lawn and Grace took the opportunity to play in the sprinkler with the pups. I did not get a pic of the three of them, but here she is.
    So, summer is here. It looks like we have a cool off coming this week, so I am going to wait a week or so before we put up the pool, but all of the Dees are looking forward to having it up.
    In other events up here, the bugs have not been too bad. It has been very dry the past few weeks. Our rain events have done their typical summer fade as they cross the big lake and move over the Keweenaw. We were suppose to get about 1/2" on Friday and got less than .10". We have a chance for some rains tomorrow as the cold front moves through, but I am not going to hold out much hope for meaningful rains. Our long term averages say we should get around 3" of rain a month for June, July and August, but I cannot even remember the last time we had that much rain fall in any of those months. It just seems like summer hits and the rains stop. Good for tourism and playing outside, but not good for my grass. Also good for keeping the bug population at bay. The black flies have been almost non existent this season...at least here at our place. There have been a few to contend with, but not the typical swarming that happens this time of the year. Same for mosquitos. There are a few, especially in the early morning and late evening, but nothing too bad. I did hear that the black flies were pretty bad in Copper Harbor though.
    So that about does it for this one. The weather is beautiful and the bugs really down in most areas, no reason not to come enjoy!
Good night from the Keweenaw..

-
JD-
June 3-
    Well, I really do not have much new to share with you today and also feel like I could use a week off, so will excuse myself from this week's writings and try and get re-energized for next week.
Happy Summer Everyone!
Good night from the Keweenaw..

 

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