September 29-
    Can someone tell me where September went? Sometimes the month drags on, sometimes it goes by fast. I swear this month seems like it started around a week ago. I guess that is what happens when I am kept so busy with things. Although it still almost boggles my mind that in less than 36 hours, it will be October already.
    It has once again been a busy week with construction. Nora went out of town last Sunday morning for a few days to attend a training seminar (on Mackinaw Island, poor girl) and Grace and I decided we would surprise her by getting the floor in the Guest room as well as Graces room and hopefully the upstairs bathroom as well. 
    We decided to go with laminate pretty much throughout the addition, as well as the kitchen in the cabin, with the exceptions of the bathrooms that for now will be the stick down vinyl square tiles until we get the urge to upgrade to ceramic or something higher end like that. So I figured that I should be able to get most of that flooring down in the almost three days Nora was gone. So on Sunday, after running some errands and writing the journal last week, I got to putting in the flooring in the guest bedroom. We did go with a higher end product and it showed in not only the quality of the finished product, but in the east of installation. It took be about 2 hours to do that room, which included about 30 minutes of just figuring out the best way to start things and the ins and outs of how that particular flooring went together.
    On Monday, Grace stayed home with me for a few hours in the morning while the sitter attended to some personal things. So we got busy laying the flooring in her bedroom. She took the measurements and I did the cutting and installing. I don't know where she learned fractions, but she barked out a measurement of 28 and 11/32nds and sure enough, she was spot on! ;) Actually, it is cute how she wants to help so much. Wish she was around 10 years older so that she could work with me side by side. Of course, if she were 10 years older, I think she would have more important things to do than help dad with the addition.
    Anyway, we did manage to get the flooring in her bedroom done and even got the bed put together and set up and Grace surprised Nora by pretending to be Sleeping Beauty in hr new bed when Nora got home. Nora was very surprised by both the Sleeping Beauty skit as well as the fact that we got the flooring done in Graces bedroom, the guest bedroom and also the bathroom. I also got some of the items in the upstairs bathroom set up, but still have a few things to do. By the way, that was Big Barbie in the bed, not Grace!
    On Wednesday, I got the flooring in Graces walk-in closet done as well as the flooring in the upstairs hallway. So that meant that all of the flooring on the second floor was done. So with all the flooring done on the second floor, I hauled the saw back down and on Thursday got busy hanging the tongue and groove that still needed to be done in the cabin where it was taken down for the remodel. For many weeks, we all had been staring at either hollow walls or walls filled with insulation and it sure was nice to get them all covered back up again. That photo really illustrates how much patina the unfinished pine takes on. Much of it happens in the first year or two, so in a year or two, the old and new will look very similar and then just continue to slowly take on more and more of a honey tone.
    On Friday I headed to Marquette to pick up some special order items, as well as some things that we still needed to finish things out. It was a beautiful day for a drive, although I really wished that I was not having to burn a whole day of working to make the trip. In any case, the pups and I enjoyed the beautiful autumn day and took in some of the colors along the way. That was in the Michigamme area and the colors were most vivid from around Alberta to Champion. The colors around here are finally starting to really get going and if they keep up at their current pace of change, then I think next weekend we will be near peak, with the following weekend just past peak, but both being pretty good for the show. I don't have any pics to share of the local colors, as they really are not that far along yet, but will be sure to capture things in the next 1-2 weeks. Plus, I have moved the woods cam back into the woods, so you can follow the color show in our woods there.
    With the upstairs being closer to be all done, Grace has gotten a little more brave in her walking around up there. We had allowed her to play in her bedroom, but said she could not go beyond her door, so that she would be safe from falling off the ledge by the hallway. Then when I was putting in the floors, I said she could be out there with me, but would have to keep a hand on the wall at all times. So she then took that to mean that she could be out on the hallway anytime she wanted, as long as she kept a hand on the wall. Probably an OK thing, but given Graces tendency for being a little too fearless, we have told her not to go out into the hallway without one of us there. That idea has gone OK, but not perfect. So yesterday, I went to the local lumber yard and picked up the materials for the stairs and railing and yesterday afternoon I built the staircase and today I got all the lumber milled for the railings and part of the railings up.
    I was really hoping to be able to get all of the work on the stairs and railings done yesterday and today, but have been a little slow in getting around. While picking out the treads for the staircase (solid oak by the way), I had three pieces in my hands and was also holding my plans in one of my hands. Next thing I know the treads are slipping out of my hands and rather than try and grab for them and end up with a nasty sliver, I just let them fall. Problem was, the fell on my left foot and smashed mainly my big toe, but also fell on parts of the next three toes. I saw stars when it happened, but was able to get around the rest of the day. I woke up yesterday not feeling too bad, until Hucky stepped right on the big toe. Second round of seeing stars and it has been hurting pretty bad ever since. I am about to share a picture of the foot with you, but I stress, it is not the prettiest thing. I think a picture of my uninjured foot would be nasty enough, but this one probably takes it over the top. I don't think it is broke as I can bend it, I think it just got smushed really good. In any case, the work I have been doing on the stairs and railing has required me to do quite a bit of walking around, including going back and forth from the shop and I think I might have overdone it a bit as it is really smarting right now. I plan to take the rest of the evening off, even though I would love to get the spindles up to make the railings safe for Gracie.
    So that is where I am at right now as far as work getting done goes. I still have all the flooring on the first floor to do, which will probably be a 3 day job. I plan to enlist the help of Nora and perhaps even one of her friends that would like to learn the ins and outs of installing laminate floors. That will really speed things up to have some help. Then we have to stain and put a finish coat on the interior doors and trim and I need to finish up the wiring of the outlets and switches. 
    I do think I know what will be the final thing to happen with the addition. That is our master bathroom. Early this week, I ordered up the tub and I was told it would take about 3 weeks to build and one to ship. It will be worth the wait. It's a biggie. In fact, I may need to wear a life preserver while in it. It is 72" long by 42"wide by 2 feet deep! It also has jets, the pump for the jets also heats the water and it has a "mood light". It was advertised as plenty big enough for two. Boom chick-wa-wa! I have always wanted a tub that was big enough for me to completely soak in and we are getting it. I cannot wait to fill it up and soak in it! 
    The main problem is, the way I figure things, none of the other items in the master bathroom can be installed until that tub is put in place, so we will be without a master bath until it goes in, but then the rest will go pretty quickly. But hopefully in 4 weeks everything else will be done and that will be the final item.
    I also got the second delivery of wood this week, so I now have 11 cord of firewood all ready to be cut up. It looks like the two regulars that have come up the past several years from NW WI to help cut and stack the wood are not going to be able to make it for this coming weekend, so it will be the 4 local boys and I getting as much of it done as we can. We might then try and get the rest of it done the following weekend, or the guys from WI said they could come up and cut while we are at the Milwaukee snowmobile show the third weekend of October if that was ok with us. It was OK with Nora, so it is OK with me! In any case, the wood will get cut and even if it did not, the worst case scenario would be that I would have to cut it as I need it during the winter.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. Talk to you all next month!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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September 22-
    Well, no predictions as to if this will be a long one or short one. I do have a fair amount of things to share, but that does not always mean I will ramble on and make it a long entry. So without further adieu...
    When I left off last week, I was preparing to tackle staining all that still needed to be stained. I am not totally sure of the square feet of siding that needed to be done, but safe to say it was probably around 65% of all of the siding of the addition and existing home combined. A rather daunting job, but with the sprayer I figured around 4 hours to get it all done.
    Before I could even fire up the sprayer, I still had some work to do on Monday. I made a template to cut out pieces of plastic to put over all the windows. I used painters tape to attach the plastic to the window frames and then just to make sure everything was really sealed up tight, I used housewrap tape to make a really tight seal between the plastic and the painters tape. I also set up scaffolding on Monday and some other staging to get to the areas off the ground. On Tuesday morning, I set out all the pieces for the dormers so that they could get stained before being put up and was all ready for the main event Tuesday afternoon.
    So after finishing up with my regular work duties, I headed out to fire up the sprayer and get going. I had half joked with Nora about how much it would stink to do all this prep work, have the perfect day for staining (sunshine, low humidity and temps in the upper 60
's) and then not have the sprayer work. It is a pretty simple machine and as long as it is cleaned up properly, there is not much that can go wrong. Or so I thought... I plugged in the sprayer, put the intake hose into the 5 gallon bucket of stain and turned it on to prime it. It fired up, but did not seem to be sucking up any of the stain. I fiddled around with it as a bit of frustration and panic started to set in. After a bit more fiddling, I was able to determine that it was, in fact, not sucking up any of the stain. So I broke out the manual and went to the troubleshooting guide. They talked about how to take the machine apart and check for problems and that is what I set about doing. All while the sun beat down on me and the sand trickled through the hourglass. After about 30 minutes I had the machine pretty well apart and determined that the check ball in the intake was stuck. I got it unstuck, put the machine back together and after the 45 minute delay, the sprayer was sucking up the stain and I was headed to the house with the sprayer nozzle in hand.
    The spraying went pretty good, but not perfect. The tip seemed to clog quite a bit, which for the most part was pretty easy to rectify, but it did stall the process of spraying the siding down. When the sprayer is working good, it is awesome. When it is acting up, it is very frustrating. In any case, I was able to keep plugging and chugging along and by around 4 in the afternoon (2 hours and 15 minutes into the process), just about all of the work was done. However, as I was nearing completion, I ran out of stain. I had 10 gallons to start with and had a feeling that it would not be enough. So I cleaned up the sprayer and then shot down to the store in Houghton to get more stain and by around 6 pm was back at spraying down the rest of the cabin. 
    Luckily, the area I had left to do was on the west side of the cabin and thus was sitting in the late evening sun and was able to dry before temps dropped for the night. I was pretty well exhausted, but took down some of the staging and did some cleaning up, then went in to take a shower and crawled into bed.
    On Wednesday, it was very nice to finish up taking the morning walk with the pups and come down the driveway and see a home that was pretty much done on the outside. The front of house shot also was one that looked like the addition was no longer an addition, but part of the initial house. Well, maybe when the dormers are done! 
    As exhausted as I was at the end of the day on Tuesday, I think I was even more so on Wednesday. My brain was rolling with all that still needed to be done and my body was saying: sorry! I did manage to get the pieces for the dormers picked up and also spent the afternoon getting the pieces for the outside window trim done, but that was about it. I think I even spent some time in bed on Wednesday as my body and mind were just not capable of functioning to the level to allow anything else.
    Thursday was a little better and I was able to get the window trim painted in the morning and then spent the afternoon putting it up. That may not sound like much, but there were 48 pieces to have to do and to make things even more fun, temps were around 80 degrees with a dewpoint of 70. I can report that the addition and cabin are now very well insulated as when I had to go inside Thursday afternoon, it felt like I had the air conditioners cranking and they actually were not even installed any more. So with all the trim done, I decided to install the outside outlets and wall lights on either side of the front doors and so the front entry to the addition is pretty much done.
    On Friday, I hooked up the main power supply from the service disconnect box by the meter to the addition, so we now have power at the addition, although not all of the circuits are fully wired, so all the breakers are still off, as is the main breaker in the panel in the addition. However, with the electrical hook up done, so was pretty much all of my outside work. There is a bit of touch-up painting/staining to do. Things like painting over the nail heads of the trim and hitting a few spots that were either sprayed too thin or missed all together by the stain, but that will not be much more than an hour or two to do and it looks like we have some warmer weather coming the second half of this week, so I will get that done. It also looks like the guys that are going to do the siding on the dormers are going to be coming over by the end of the week, so if they do, then by the end of the week, ALL of the outside work will be done!
    On Friday, I also started in on some of the remaining work to be done on the inside. I was able to put up the remaining tongue and groove in the addition and also framed out the closet in the foyer and got the tongue and groove up on it as well as by the front doors. With the temps falling into the autumnal range, jackets are becoming standard fare, so yesterday I went and got a rod, shelves and hangers for the closet, got them installed and made the foyer closet functional. All it needs now is some nice by-pass doors. 
    It's amazing how just little things like making the foyer closet and finishing out the tongue and groove in the addition changes the look of things in there. It really is starting to look more and more like a home in there, rather than a construction zone. I suppose that the majority of the projects left to do will have the same effect. Things like the flooring, trim work, interior doors and and stairway.
    This past week after the staining was done, I made a list of things that still needed to be done. I tried to make it as comprehensive as possible and ended up with 17 things on it. So far I have been able to cross off 2 items and there are 2 others that only require an hour or less of work to be crossed off. About half of the remaining 13 items are either multi hour jobs like hooking up bathroom fixtures or multi-day jobs like the fireplace and flooring. None the less, it is looking like in about 3 weeks, I should be done with the majority of the work and we will probably be utilizing the addition fully. There will still likely be some small things to be done, but we are getting closer and closer and the excitement to be finally done is about the only thing getting me through the totals exhaustion at this point!
    After finishing up the foyer closet yesterday, we used it to grab some coats and take a family walk. It felt REALLY good to head out into our woods with Nora, Grace and the pups. The woods were still a little damp from the rains of Thursday night and Friday and there was a definite autumn chill in the air, with temps in the 50's, but Gracie was pumped to be heading out to see Old Granddad and the pups chased each other around the woods the whole time we were out there. We did make it out to see Old Granddad and he is still doing very well. It's funny how we have really grown to love this tree. It started out as a bit of a whimsy, but has become a bit of a tradition to take a walk into the woods to go see Old Granddad. I am not sure how long it will live. Perhaps longer than all of us, perhaps not. I can say that as strange as it may seem, I think there will be some tears shed if on one of our visits, we see it has succumbed to the elements.
    As mentioned, other than the heat and humidity of Thursday, the weather has been quite autumnal up here, including the first frost of the season on Monday. We did not have frost officially in our yard, but on our morning walk, we only had to get to the end of our driveway to encounter some frost, so I put it down as the "official first frost" of the season in the firsts and lasts
    The weather is becoming quite autumnal, but the woods are still looking more like summer. I will say that in the past few days, some of the trees have started to pop and we are maybe 5-10% changed. Here is a shot taken down our road yesterday morning, complete with some lake effect clouds. Here is a shot of our woods taken earlier today. Still very green! I am hoping that the slow start to the change leads to a very vibrant color show with all of the trees going at one time. Well, see.
    So with all the work that has been getting done and all the work that still needs to be done on the addition, some more work was piled onto my lap this week. The low rumble of Al's logging truck was heard on Monday and he pulled into place to unload it. In about 30 minutes the first load of firewood was sitting in our yard- all ready to be cut and stacked! There are plans underway to have the annual wood cutting/stacking event the first weekend of October. I sure hope it is able to happen as it really is great to get things all done in one quick shot. If not, I guess I can always cut as I need it all winter long! By the way, anyone that is interested in coming up for the annual wood cutting event, you are more than welcome! I have actually always wanted to turn it into a wood cutting/ATV riding event. 
    So that is just about it for this one. I do have one quick announcement and then a few pics. The announcement is that I was contacted by the folks that run the JohnDee.com ThinkSnow Store and they will no longer be able to produce items after December 1st. So if you want to get some ThinkSnow stuff, you will need to do it before this December 1st. I do plan to carry on selling the stickers and will probably have then available through the Keweenaw Kamo online store.
   Now to the pictures. Yesterday as I was finishing up my lunch, Gracie picked up my phone and started playing with it. I did not pay too much attention, but it turns out she was taking pictures, lots of pictures! I did not count how many she took and most of them were probably done just to hear the electronic shutter click the phone makes when it takes the picture, but I got a chuckle out of some of them and thought I would share a few. One of the first was of the pop can on the table. Andy Warhol would be proud. The next is of her bowl of soup. Looking even more like a Warhol. Here is the edge of the placemat. Pretty edgy stuff. A self portrait and last, but not least, what a 4 year old does with a self portrait.
    Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
September 15-
    This will probably be another fairly short one. Once again, as I sit down to write, I find myself rather wiped out. This Sunday it is not from a whirlwind trip out of town, but rather from going full speed ahead not just today, or the past 2 days, but for the past 7. As I mentioned in the previous entry, my goal for the week was to get the outside all wrapped up. For the first time all season, that goal was not realized. Not because of too much work to do, or slacking, but the weather. Yep, both Monday and Tuesday and even part of Wednesday were rain outs. I was expecting Monday to be a wash out, but not Tuesday and part of Wednesday. So I lost 2 1/2 days of working and that was too much to come back against. 
    Not that I spent the 2 1/2 days laying around and not working. I switched gears and just got going on inside work instead. With a stack of tongue and groove laying in the foyer and some walls needing to be covered, I got busy bringing the two together. By the end of the day on Monday, I had the west side of the front wall and the west side of the foyer all covered. On Tuesday, I jumped over to the east wall and got all the tongue and groove up on the walls on either side of the fireplace. The fireplace will be done in stone, so that wall is all done with the T/G. That leaves the west side of the front wall still needing to be done as well as two small areas on either side of the front door and all the interior wall siding will be done. The plywood on the wall in that last shot will be the back wall of a closet, so I decided not to put any T/G there.
    Then on Wednesday morning, I had to run to town and take care of some business and then went over to get the load of wood for the exterior siding in the afternoon. So by Wednesday evening, all the wood needed to do the siding was on site in the back of the truck and just needed to be put in it's place.
    For just about all of this build, things have been running in high gear. Not so fast that mistakes are made, or at least made and not fixed. And not so fast that quality has been sacrificed. Just long days, with pretty much no breaks and little in the way of days off. So to say there has always been a sense of urgency since we got started would be a true statement. However, that sense of urgency was ramped up this week, as there was still a meaningful amount of outside work that needed to be done and we are getting to the time of the year when the weather can start to impede on outdoor activity. In fact, with part of the outside work that needs to be done being staining, I not only need a dry day, but one that is not too cold and preferably has some sunshine to help the stain dry. So I have been watching the models closely and trying to plan my schedule to work well with a day that will provide good weather for staining. 
    Yesterday was one such day that would have worked nicely to do the staining and had I not lost the 2 1/2 days earlier in the week, the plan was to do it yesterday. My next decent day looked to be this coming Tuesday, so the race was on Friday and this weekend to get all that needed to be done to be ready to stain done. So I have been a busy guy with his back against the wall the past few days, but am happy to report that all of the siding work is done. There are still things that need to be done to be ready to stain. I want to seal off the windows so that I can spray right up to them and I also need to erect scaffolding to be able to get at the higher spots that still need to be stained, basically the gable of the foyer and the second floor of the existing home. I have also decided to sub out the siding work on the dormers and want to have all of that material pre-stained before it goes up, so I need to get that all laid out to be sprayed on Tuesday as well. I figure it will probably take around 4 hours to do all the staining, it goes very quickly with the sprayer.
    Once done, I will not have to worry about the weather any more. I will still need to put up the window trim on the outside and a few battens that go up after the trim is in place, but that can all be done in about an hour or two and as the weather permits.
    There were a few moments yesterday and today when I did not think I would get all that I needed to. While most of the work was able to be done on the ground, there were spots that needed a ladder and there were some spots that required both a ladder and quite a few cuts to get all the pieces to fit right. Yesterday I was able to get all the 1x6 boards up and today I was able to get all the battens and corner pieces up. So all that wood that was in the back of the truck is now down to some extra battens.
    So as long as my forecast holds up and there are no surprises in sealing off the windows and setting up the scaffolding, I will be a pretty happy camper come the end of the day on Tuesday and the view from the woods cam should be pretty cool too. I actually plan to keep it in the spot it is now until all the outside work is done and then get it back into the woods to catch the color show and first flakes.
    Inside work still left to do is all the floors, all the interior doors, installing all the bathroom fixtures, doing the finish electrical, stairs and railings, trim, fireplace masonry work and build the rest of drawers and doors for the kitchen cabinets. My goal is to be pretty much done with everything by the time the Milwaukee snowmobile show rolls around and that is 5 weeks from this weekend. So, I still have quite a bit to do and no resting will be done, but I think it is a doable scenario. I think it is going to be very strange once everything is done. Not only will we be sleeping and hanging out in entirely new rooms, but I am not sure how I am going to adjust to not having to go full speed ahead all day, every day. It would seem like I should just be able to finally sit back and relax and perhaps that will happen, but I have been so conditioned to go hard all day and worry about so much that it may actually take some effort to be able to relax! I think I am up to taking on that task as well!
    So other than going full speed ahead with the building, I did very little else this week. As mentioned, I want to get the woods cam back into the woods to catch the color show and the way things stand right now, there is very, very little color in the woods. Normally by now we are at around 20-25% changed and I would say we are less than 5% right now. I think all the rain we got this summer really is helping the trees to stay green right up to the last minute and hopefully that provides us with an even more spectacular color show than we normally have. I promise that even though I will still be pretty busy with the building, I will be sure to get out and take some shots of the colors.
    The family is still hanging in there through the building process. I do really feel sorry for Grace. I think she is starting to grow antsy for me to be done so I can play with her like before. I do try and spend at least a bit of time with her each day, but I have to admit that I am spending almost all of my time working. I have been thinking of some fun things to do with the family once the build is over and am looking very forward to spending lots of quality time with Nora, Gracie and the pups.
    Grace is pretty good at entertaining herself though. Yesterday she broke out the garden hose and had fun spraying down all sorts of things and even got it to shoot straight into the sky. She then got into the drops as they fell back to the ground and while it was pretty chilly out and her getting all wet meant she would need to change her clothes when done, both Nora and I got a kick out of watching her play in the self-made rain shower and let her have her fun. Nora even broke out an umbrella to add another element of fun to things.
    So I guess this was not as short as I thought it might be, but again rather one dimensional. It won't be long before this journal goes back to all the wonders going on in the Keweenaw, not just how many nails I nailed in this week (which was somewhere around 2000- by the way!).
    Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
September 8-
    This is going to be a short one, as I am a bit pooped out from my whirlwind weekend to the great state of Minnesota and back. All went well. My thanks to Kris and his wife Tracy for their wonderful hospitality in putting me and others up for a few nights as well as feeding us all. It sure makes the trip down possible!
    As I am sure most of you reading already know, it was a hot one. Not sure if it was the hottest Haydays on record, but I checked the conditions at a weather station not far away and the temp peaked out at 94 and the dewpoint was in the low 70's. Some hot and humid stuff. Add to that we had pretty much full sunshine and that really amped up the discomfort level. The only saving grace was the breeze that was blowing and if you were fortunate to find some shade. I know I drank 7 bottles of water during the 9 hours I was there.
    It was great to meet up with all that I did and sorry if I was not there when some of you stopped by at midday. Needed to grab something to eat and then I headed over with some buddies to check out Arctic Cat reveal their two sled models carrying the new 600 DI engine.
    Although it was not the type of day most folks associate with snowmobiling, it was fun to be back in the atmosphere of snowmobiles, their riders and everything that goes along with it. It really is one heck of an event. I even saw a few of the races. Yep, they have races there too. ;)
    I did not take any pictures while at Haydays. It's not that I did not want to, it is just that the event is so enormous, it is hard to try and convey what it is all about in a few snap shots. Words cannot do much justice as to what the event is all about. I guess all I can say is that one really needs to head there themselves to see what it is all about. A true snowmobilers Mecca.
    So now onto the weekly addition update... It was a shortened work week and because of that, I did not set my goals at the beginning of the week too high, but still had some goals. By Wednesday midday, the two main goals had been achieved. One was to get the soffit vents done on the back side of the house. The other was to get all the tongue and groove soffits by the front entry done. So on Wednesday afternoon, we jumped onto the next item on the list and that was to get the chase for the fireplace built. By Wednesday afternoon we had quite a bit done and I did some more on Thursday and got all that could be done on the chase done. The rest needs to be left open so that the unit can be installed. Once it is installed, then a stone veneer will be put up around it all the way to the ceiling by yours truly. 
    Friday was a travel day and then I was away for the weekend, so no work was done since Thursday. The plan of attack for this week is to get the outside all buttoned up. I have the siding to put up on the front of the house, as well as all of the trim work and then the staining. The weather can take a turn for the worse at this time of the year and make it difficult to get a lot of work done outside on a consistent basis. So I think it is best to not play games with the weather and just finish things up outside. The weather looks to be a bit iffy tomorrow, but then should be very good for the rest of the week. So as long as there are no major hiccups, the outside should be all buttoned up by the next time I write.
    The weather this week was beautiful for outside work. Things did get hot on Friday, but I as on my way to the real heat in MN and not working. My work weather for Mon, Tue and Wed was beautiful. Highs in the 60's and 70's and low humidity. Even the early morning walks with the pups were taken in some nice cool temps. I even wore my work gloves on Thursday morning, with temps around 40 degrees. Although I am not quite ready for the true autumn weather of the UP to arrive until I button up the outside of the addition, it was nice to be taking those walks in that weather.
    Going back almost a week. On Memorial Day, the family headed up the peninsula to check out the new playground in Copper Harbor. Through the hard work of many, a wonderful and brand new playground was built up there. That was the upper part of the playground and here is the lower part. Gracie took a fond liking to the upper part and all the climbing that was afforded there. After playing there for around an hour, we grabbed some food to go and headed to a nice quiet spot to have a little picnic dinner before heading home.
   Today, as I made the trip north and then east home, we passed through different topography and different zones of ecology. Once we hit the rolling hills of the UP and their covering of thick woodlands. I felt the familiar sense of being near home. Although I was only gone for around 46 hours, it was still a wonderful feeling to be driving down our street and making the turn into our driveway to see the still unfinished home, with my precious family waiting for me inside in excitement. Right now, I am wearing a t-shirt that says: "Life is Good". To which I say: "Yes it is."
    Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
September 1-
    Happy Labor Day eve and welcome to September and autumn everyone! As if on cue, the weather went from the very summer-like conditions we have had for the past 9 days to quite autumnal today. It was 9 days of heat and humidity up here, with highs most days solidly into the 80's and even touching 90 a few days. Humidity was up there too, with dewpoints in the upper 60's on all days and even into the low 70's some days. I forget which day it was, but the combined heat and humidity created a heat index of 101. Nasty. Today has been cloudy, rainy and temps have been falling all day and we are currently in the upper 50's. Pretty autumn-like.
    Even though I spent almost all week inside working and the heat and humidity did not impact me, I am glad to see it go. It is nice to have the windows open again at night for sleeping and not have to listen to the hum of the air conditioner. Heck we probably will even have to close the windows at night the next few nights as temps are suppose to drop into the 40's.
    We also have picked up quite a bit of needed rain in the past few days. After a very wet June and July, things turned pretty dry for August and we went around 5 weeks without any significant rainfall. There were some decent rains that skipped past us just to the south, but we saw only light totals. Thursday night was the first round of heavy rain, accompanied by lots of lighting/thunder and then last night and today we had a pretty good round of thunderstorms and now it is just some light, left over showers.
    I can say that the heat this week did help the peaches on our tree ripen up. A few are ready for picking and the rest will be soon. The tomatoes and cucumbers also ripened up nicely this week. I would imagine that the hot days and warm nights also helped to warm the waters up, although I was not able to partake in any lake or beach activity this week and this will probably go down as the first summer since moving up here that I have not taken a dip in Lake Superior. That's OK, Gracie has taken plenty of them for me!
    The work on the addition progressed nicely again this week and I not only fulfilled my objectives, but did so by around Thursday. When I last left off, I had mentioned how I had done some work on Sunday, but wanted to save that for this entry, so I may as well start with it. Last Sunday, I pretty much spent the entire day working on the cabinet for the double ovens. I had to wait to do much on it until I had it in place and put the ovens in temporarily to figure out the dimensions and layout for the face frames as well as the cookie sheet storage above the ovens. It was also a real struggle to get in as I wanted it to fit as tight to the ceiling as possible, so it had to be slid over up right and in a few spots, even scratched the ceiling lightly as the ceiling must have been a touch lower in spots than it was where the case was going. We did manage to wrestle it into place and then lift the ovens in place, which were VERY heavy by the way! There is still some work to do on it, as is the case with many of the other cabinets in the kitchen, but things are at least functional.
    Speaking of the other cabinets in the kitchen, they are all in and so are the appliances like the cooktop, so the entire kitchen is now functional. On Monday, one of the tasks at hand was to get the kitchen sink mounted into it's cabinet, so we could get it all plumbed out on Tuesday. That went off pretty good as did hooking up the dishwasher at the same time on Tuesday. Here is a shot of the island and sink. Fancy countertops eh? Yea, Nora and I decided that we would just go for broke with them. May as well do it up right! Actually we are going to be getting black quartz put in. Hopefully they will come out to template them this week and then it takes around 4-5 weeks before they come out to do the install.
    As you can see, there are still quite a few drawers that need to be made, along with their fronts and all of the doors still need to be made, but I had to jump off the cabinet building this May to jump into the addition building. I figure it will probably be around 20 hours of work to get them all made and then another 3-4 hours total time to put the finish on them. All good things to do once the addition is done and the weather is nasty outside. The one piece that is nearly done, with the exception of the drawer pulls, is the "bar" cabinet. All the drawers are done and finished as are the shelves below. The final top on that case will also extend out further on the back side of the cabinet, to allow it to function as both a cabinet top and breakfast bar. There will also be a series of pendant lights that go over the bar and a pot rack type light that goes over the island and under cabinet lighting that goes under the cabinets on either side of the cooktop. The hood above the cooktop has good lighting too. Besides being quite small, the old kitchen could have used better lighting- especially over the range, so that is one thing I hope is addressed with the remodel.
    So, with the kitchen fully functional and the temps outside getting cold enough that we can heat things up in it, the girls took the opportunity this afternoon to cook daddy some cookies! Nora fired up both ovens and was able to cook the entire batch of cookies in one round. I can't wait for Christmas cookie time!
    The other main project at hand this week was to put the tongue and groove up on the ceiling of the great room in the addition. It was the last of the major jobs requiring scaffolding and I honestly was not looking too forward to it. If you were watching the woods cam this week, you likely caught some of the action, as it was pointed at us working. I have to say that things went quite smoothly and better than I had expected. The time it took was a bit less too. By Thursday afternoon, we had all but a small section done, as we ran out of T/G. I went and picked up some more and finished the rest by myself Thursday evening. So I am greatly relieved that the ceiling of the great room is all done (except for some trim work) and I even hung the ceiling fan and lighting in there today. Although I think we are going to go with a shorter down rod for the ceiling fan. 
    So with the main objectives for the week done by Thursday, we jumped into this weeks work on Friday, which was to get the electrical supply line for the addition put in place. I am not going to do the wiring for that. Way too many things that could go wrong! Plus, at the same time we have the service hooked up, we are going to have a stand-by generator hooked up. So double trouble for this electrician wanna-be. Hopefully they will be able to get over to hook up the electrical soon, as we are ready to be able to turn on some lights in there! Anyway, Friday morning Sam dug the 100 foot trench from the spot where the electrical enters the addition to where the service from the road comes in. A 100 foot trench 18" deep sounds like a pretty daunting task for one guy to do and quite frankly, I though I would finish up the work I had to do inside and then help Sam with the rest of the trench digging, but most of the digging was done in the sand that was put down to put the foundations of the addition and cabin on and it only took him around 2 hours to get it all dug. Before we moved onto the next step, we had the inspector come out and look things over and he said it looked good and we could proceed. So we dropped some conduit into the trench, ran the electrical lines through it and it is all set to be hooked up.
    So, the week ahead will not provide quite as much work time as is usual. I have two board meetings to go to on Tuesday and then will be heading to the great state of Minnesota to take in Haydays next weekend. So the objectives for this week are a bit less ambitious, but still there. A week from now I hope to have the soffit vents on the back side of the house all done as well as the actual soffits by the main entry done. There is about a 6 foot overhang on three sides of the front entry, plus 4 recessed lights that need to be cut around, so there is quite a bit of work involved there. Any other left over time in the next 7 days will probably be spent getting the framing for the fireplace done. I was hoping to do that this weekend, but had some questions about things and have to wait for the place that we bought the fireplace from and who will be installing it, to call back and answer my questions before I start framing. It will be a gas fireplace with a dry-stack stone veneer surrounding it and I am looking very forward to hanging out by it on a cold and snowy day.
    So there is still quite a bit to do. The partial list of things left to do includes: the fireplace, the soffit by the front entry. The siding/trim on the first floor of the front of the addition, the tongue and groove on the walls of the addition as well as window/door trim work in all of the addition as well as the new door and windows of the cabin, all the flooring, setting up the bathrooms and final electrical. However, none of those jobs should be more than 2-3 days total time to get done and none of them should be too daunting. So the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter. It is my hope to be done with all but a few odds and ends type things before we head down to S. WI for the Milwaukee snowmobile show in mid-October. Seems pretty doable.
    I have a few more pictures to share with you. Non-addition types. When Nora's brother and family were up, they all went to the beach several times and Nora took the good camera on one of the occasions and took some really nice shots. There were many of Grace playing in the sand and surf, but for some reason, this one was my favorite. Later in the evening, the sun was getting lower in the sky and Nora snapped a shot of Grace watching the sun sink towards the big lake. I have always been awestruck by beautiful sunsets. I think it harbors back to family trips to the west coast of FL for spring and winter breaks. I sure wish that it either set sooner in the summer up here, or that I could stay up to watch it set during the summer. Most of the sunsets in the winter are hidden behind the clouds. Perhaps I can take advantage of the next few weeks of still pretty good viewing conditions and an early enough time for me to be able to see it. For tonight, I will just take in this beauty Nora captured. I think that one deserves a full sized version.
    So I guess that just about covers it for this one. As mentioned. I will be heading to Haydays next weekend and like the past few years, I will be spending most of my time hanging out at the Togwotee booth. I will only be there on Saturday, as Sunday is a travel day for me. It is always so great to meet the visitors of the site, so if you are at Haydays, don't be shy, stop by and say hi! Hope to see lots of you there.
    The other announcement is that the Keweenaw Trails work session will be Friday and Saturday, October 25th and 26th. Things will be a little different this year. The Pines and Lac La Belle will be taking the year off from hosting workers and the Trailside Lodge in Calumet and D's Base Camp in Toivola will be stepping up to host volunteers. I also hope to get one or two more lodging options in the Mohawk-Calumet area to donate a few rooms. Because the lodging will be further south, so will the work. We will be working on the trails in the Calumet, Lake Linden, Gay and Mohawk area this year. I also hope to supply the dinner (smoked brisket/pulled pork) on Saturday somewhere.
    So I guess that covers it for this one!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 

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