August 31-
    It's a beautiful day and looks to be a beautiful evening and tomorrow looks like rain, so I think I will hold off until tomorrow to write, if you don't mind! Talk to you tomorrow!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

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August 24-
    Well, a marching band did not play, balloons were not launched, confetti was not dropped...heck, the dogs did not even bark, but at 1:50 pm on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014, with the lifting of my finger off a bead of caulk I had just smoothed, the house addition/remodel finally came to an end. 
    To be fair about the event, when I walked from the upstairs bathroom out into the hallway, Hucky was laying there and his tail did wag. Probably more because that pretty much always happens when our eyes meet.
    I think the thing that amazes me the most is not that I was able to finish it, but rather how a project that has so consumed my life for the past 2 years- beginning with the planning of two years ago, to the non-stop, frenzied pace of work last spring, summer and autumn, to the more casual, but still non-stop work done through the winter, spring and this summer, could come to an end in such an unceremonious manner. One moment I was still working on things and the next...done. 30 months, hundreds (if not thousands) of hours, thousands of dollars, bumps, bruises, cuts, scrapes, one smashed toe and loads of sweat all to end with a single finger lift. Funny how life works sometimes.
    Of course there will always be things to do. I already have my list of things I would like to do once the lean-to for Big Read and the woodshed repair are done. First is to build some furniture to fill some empty spots and to help serve a purpose in the house. I would like to also re-do my office. It serves its purpose OK, but is not the prettiest sight and I spend a lot of may day in it, so it would be nice to have it more welcoming and comfortable.
    I had actually thought I would be done by Tuesday afternoon, but it rained almost all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. So hard on Tuesday, that I decided to put off doing the trim work in the upstairs bathroom. I would have gotten soaked to the bone just dashing from the house to the shop and then not long after the rain started, a huge puddle formed in front of the kitchen door, with a smaller one in front of the shop. So I took the afternoon off. 
    It took almost all week for it to settle in that I was done with my share of the work, but it has finally taken hold of me. It's a nice feeling too.
    The weather continued it's dampish ways Thursday, Friday and even for a bit on Saturday. With all the damp weather, the woods are a marvelous green and the grass that was starting to brown up a bit has returned to a deep green. The wet and cloudy weather has also been favorable for the growth of some mushrooms in the woods. These were taken not far from Gracie's playground. I took the shot while hanging out with her by it.
    The entire week was not a total wash-out. We did have enough dry weather for Gracie to get in her soccer game on Saturday and we also got some cedar bark delivered from Chris at the Trailside Lodge. We wanted to relocate Grace's playground to a more visible spot and I figured as long as we were moving it, we might as well give it a nice base of material to put it on. So the bark was delivered Friday around noon and then we fired up Big Red and Gracie and her Uncle Joel used it to spread the bark around
    We then swapped out the bucket for the forks and I used Big Red to bring the playground over in two pieces. It sure was nice to have Big Red do all the heavy lifting! We got the two pieces re-attached to each other and the slide put back on and Gracie was back in business and Nora and I no longer need to be right out there with her, we can just keep an eye on her from the front deck or even the kitchen window.
    On Saturday afternoon, we had a first here at the Dee house. A wedding! Well, actually, it was a renewal of vows between Nora's brother Joel and his wife Tammi. The weather cooperated nicely and it was a fun get together with some family and friends. It is so nice to be able to have the room to entertain and also to have friends and family stay with us. I always felt so bad when visitors would have to sleep on a blow up bed, or the couch and we all would be crammed into the cabin like sardines. It's more to clean and more to heat, but both Nora and I will happily take the trade-off.
    So it's pretty hard to believe and a little sad that next week will be the final week of summer. I really never thought I would be saying that second part, but it really is true, at least for now! In 10 days Gracie will be starting school too!
    I will be running my warm season text and graphical forecasts through September 4th and then will take the 5th completely off and then just produce the graphics for the rest of September and the first week or so of October.
    The first snows of the season fell across the higher terrain of the northern Rockies in the past few days. The highest of terrain can get snow all year long. I know when we used to take family trips to CO in mid-August, we were caught in several snow storms in places like Trail Ridge Rd in Rocky Mountain Park, as well as Red Mountain Pass in SW CO. However, the snows out west in the past few days were in places that rarely ever see snow during June, July and August. One such spot was Togwotee Pass and here is a shot from there this morning.
    I will admit that seeing that snow in a place I have frequented many times did get the blood pumping a bit and got me to thinking about when we would see our first flakes and our first coating of snow. So I decided to create a contest on when the first coating of snow would be seen at our house this autumn. It is in the discussion board, sort of a 180 from the Laurium Glacier Contest I guess!
    I guess that about covers it for this one. A few weeks back, I mentioned that there would be some pretty big news involving the upcoming SnowFest Ride-In and I plan to dedicate a portion of next week's entry spilling the beans. So be sure to check in to catch all the details!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

August 17-
    Wowsers, I can't believe that August is almost over! I can honestly say that I would be perfectly fine with it not ending for maybe another 3-4 weeks, rather than 2. Our weather has continued to be pretty beautiful, maybe even a bit chilly at times. Today is one of those chilly days, with the temperature just now rising to 60 and it is already 2:30 in the afternoon. We do have an overcast sky, so that is helping to keep the temps down.
    None the less, the weather is starting to feel more and more autumnal like. Chilly nights and no heat during the day. We had a few locations near by drop into the mid 30's Thursday morning. I did not hear of any frost, but if someone from the UP were to report it, I would be in disbelief.
    There are some signs that things could warm a bit as we get to the second half of this week and weekend, so I have not pulled the plug on the pool just yet, but it is getting very close and if some of the ideas from the models for the final week of August pan out, then the plug will be pulled next week. It is really that time anyway.
    It was another successful week in getting closer to being done with the addition/remodel. I cannot say that it is officially "done", but I have 3 small things to do and with a little luck, I will be done tomorrow by the time the girls get home, or on Tuesday. The backup generator had all the wiring done to it, so now we just need to run the line from the propane take to it and then shut down the power to the house briefly so that the final connections for the generator to the main service can happen. So... barring any unforeseen events, I should be done with MY work by the next time I write and with a little luck, ALL the work needed to be done will be done. 
    There will probably always be a little project that will be on the docket for the place, but it is nice to be within a few hours of the work being done. Almost seems hard to believe, seeing as how I have been dealing with this project for around 18 months now. Not a whole lot has been done to the exterior lately, but just a little bit ago, I was outside and I did snap a shot of the place from a somewhat different angle, trying to show all of it, rather than just what can be seen from directly in front.
    I can point out that a project in the next year or two will be to take down the wooden deck on the front of the "cabin" portion and then either pour a stamped concrete patio or perhaps use flagstone in front of both the old and new portions of the place and also wrap the bottoms of the posts with stone bases and the upper half with panels to spruce them up a bit.
   With the woodshop no longer needed to finish things out, I did spend some time this week cleaning it up. I don't know why, but I really enjoy just spending an hour or two cleaning the shop up. I guess because there is such a dramatic difference from start to finish and I am one of those guys that does not like to do "busy work" and I also think that once it is all cleaned up, everything is right back in its place, so I never have to spend time looking around for anything. At any rate, clean shop and all ready for the next project.
    As has been the theme all summer, it was not an all work/no play week. The girls and I did get out for an ATV ride. It was a little dusty, but cool enough that we all needed long pants and a jacket. We did not go too far, but we also did not get too far from home when Nora, who was leading, saw a big bruin cross the trail ahead of us. I did not see it, but by the description Nora gave, it sounded like a real "lunker", probably 350-450 lbs. Might have been on its way to town to check out the local eateries dumpster. I have heard that there has been one stopping there from time to time.
    Our ATV travels took us to "Secret Spot". When we told Gracie about going there, she got all excited. She is big into hidden or secret spots or messages. I was a little worried that the location would not live up the hype in Gracie's eyes, but she did not seem to be disappointed in any way. It is a pretty spot and its name fits it well- kind of a little secret spot in the woods sitting along side one of the regions rivers. Perfect for exploring, doing a little frog catching and posing for dear old dad.
    I cannot even remember if we used the pool at all this week. I know we snuck over to Marquette on Monday to do some school shopping and even if we had not gone there, it rained pretty much all day here and was chilly. I believe the rest of the week was either too cool and or cloudy.
    I have actually been keeping the pool heater going and even forgot to turn it off one day and despite air temps in the 60's, the water temp was 95! I was half tempted to drag a hose over from the air compressor in the shop and make a redneck hot tub! So how is it I am running the pool heater so much with my firewood issues? Well, on Thursday morning, the Calvary arrived! I got a load of 2 cord of pre-cut wood delivered. The "Shock and Awe" moment should come in around 3-4 weeks when the full load of un-cut wood arrives for the season. This load will allow us to run the pool heater without worry for the rest of the season and will then get us pretty deep into October before we are in need of more.
    It's funny, as I saw the wood being dumped right in front of the boiler, I felt this huge relief build as I no longer needed to worry about finding trees (preferably dead-standing) to fell, haul and cut to keep the boiler going. What is even more funny is that after spending almost the entire summer looking up in the canopy of the woods for dead standing trees to harvest, I still cannot stop the process. I suppose in maybe another week or so that will finally subside.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. Despite my highly unusual wishes to keep August going a bit longer, I am also excited for the change of seasons to occur and am also starting to feel that little twinge of excitement for winter. It seems like I am not alone in that thinking as I have noticed the typical increase in activity on the site in the past week to ten days. In not too long, the snows will be flying, but for now I am going to soak in as much summer as I can!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
August 10-
    It was a busy, but fun week and so it has just flown by. It seems very hard to believe that in just a few days, we will be halfway through August. Not that I am particularly complaining, but with the type of weather we have been having, I could go for another month of this. Temps in the 70's for highs, lows in the low 50's at night and low humidity. Just about as perfect as it gets. We could use some rain and it looks like that will be delivered tomorrow. So all is well in the Keweenaw.
    Monday was Gracie's 5th birthday! In ways it seems hard to believe that she is 5 already, but in other ways, it seems like it has been longer than 5 years since she was born. My mom and younger brother drove up to help celebrate the event and we also had the woman that has been taking care of Grace during the weekdays for the past 4 1/2 years, as well as a few friends. Not a huge party by any standards, but still a fun one with cake and presents.
    My mom and brother then stayed until Thursday morning and we had fun checking out some of the sights of the Keweenaw. One of the things we did was to go to the hiking trail that we went to and I covered in a journal around a month ago. The trip around a month ago was my first and I enjoyed it very much, but had wished I had brought our good camera, as there was plenty of opportunities for some nice pictures. 
    So this time I made sure to bring the camera and took quite a few pictures to share with you all. I guess the main highlight to the walking path is a pond that sits quietly in the woods. I believe it is man made, but looks like it could have naturally existed. It appears to be spring fed, so the water is pretty clear, although there is a lot of aquatic plant life in it as well. There is a little path that goes around the pond and even a bridge spanning a little creek that flows into it. The creek even dumps into the pond via a miniature waterfall.  A sea serpent carved out of cedar sits near the shoreline on one end. On both trips it has drawn the fascination of Gracie.
    There are lots of wildflowers growing around the pond as well. Perhaps some of them were put there, but it looks like most of them are there of their own fruition. This bunch of daisies reminded me of fireworks on the 4th of July. Near by was a thistle plant, with a bumble bee hovering over it.
    With a good camera on hand and someone else to use it to take pictures, we took advantage of the situation to have my brother snap some shots of Gracie, Nora and I. I can never have too many of them! 
    The tabloids have been full of rumors that Nora and my marriage is on the rocks....errrr wait a minute, that is Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. Anyway, our marriage is as strong as ever and I have no problem showing the whole world how much I love my beautiful wife. So here goes, ready, aim, fire! It's hard to believe that in less than 2 months we will have been married 10 years!
    Ok, enough of the mushy stuff. After the family portraits, my brother, Grace and I headed down the trail a bit further to take in a little gorge area, while Nora and my mom hung out by the pond for a while longer and then found a shady spot on the trail back to the parking lot.
    Not far from the pond is another little creek that the trail follows for a little bit. It really is quite little and you have to even step over it once or twice while following the path. The woods really put down a lot of shade in the area and with the abundant moisture from the creek, everything is a lush green. Jim, Gracie and I managed to make it down to the little gorge, it actually grows into one that is around 30-40 feet deep and maybe 50 feet across, but we did not follow the path down that far, rather we opted to take a stairway that led us down into the more shallow area of the gorge, which has been carved out by the Garden City Creek. While down there, Jim and Gracie gathered some stones to build a cairn. Once completed, they stopped long enough for a portrait of the two of them
    We all then hiked back to the car and drove home. We then made some sandwiches to eat while hanging out at the beach for the evening. Temps were perfect and there was a light breeze and most of the bugs that really cause a problem at the beaches up here have retired for the season. There are still a few horseflies, but they are not too much of a problem. 
    We always have a multitude of beaches to choose from and each has their own special features. On that evening, we chose a beach situated on the east shore of the peninsula. The water is typically a lot more tranquil there and makes for a good spot to quietly hang out and have a picnic. After our picnic dinner, Gracie donned her swim suit and floaties and took to the water. I "hung loose" with the pups and tossed them the stick to fetch in the water. The pups found their own ways to have fun. They have so much energy, it is a joy to see and I get a kick out of the fact that most folks who see them in action, as if they are a year old yet!
    They both love to roll in the sand after swimming and here is a shot of Huck doing just that. Here he is all proud of himself, sand head-to-toe
    The wild blueberries are ripening up and Huck found some to have as a post-swim, evening snack.
    All of this activity proved to be some good entertainment for my mom and brother. I'm thinking they both were saying to themselves: "Man, those dogs are nuts!", in that last shot.
    In our travels with my mom and brother earlier in the week, we spotted the first autumn colors of the season. Yep, the leaves are a changing. Actually, it is just the typical branch here and there on a few trees that are changing right now. It is a pretty typical thing seen during early August up here. None the less, it does start to get one thinking about how the end of summer is creeping up and soon true autumn will be here. 
    Speaking of the woods, we all took a walk in our woods as well and paid a visit to Old Grandad. Who is still looking pretty healthy.
    Today marked a milestone in the addition/remodel. I finished the last of the work on the kitchen!!! I suppose there will be some additional customizing that will get done from time to time, but as far as this rodeo goes, she is done! I don't have any pictures, as I was nearly done when I took the pictures I shared in last weeks entry. However, here is a shot of the last two pieces of milled solid stock cherry I had left. Here is a shot of the waste wood. I wish that was all the wood I had left that could not be used for anything. In reality, there was about 6 times that much wood at least. Still not too bad, probably less than 8% wasted wood and even at that, it is not wasted. It has been helping to heat our home, the hot water and pool!
    So I can now sit back and smile when I look at the kitchen, knowing that all the work on it has been completed. Plus, I know that it is smiling back at me! Nora discovered that pair of small knots and grain pattern in the shape of a smile. If you really use your imagination, it kind of looks like that cartoon gecko used in the commercials for Gieco insurance.
    Anyway, just a few more small tasks to be completed. Each will probably not take much more than a few hours to do, so with a little luck, next week at this time ALL will be done. That will be a pretty strange feeling! And a very good one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
August 3-
    Welcome to August everyone! I'm a bit more excited about the transition to this month than I was last week, but still not quite as much as I have been in previous years. I think it has mostly to do with the fact that this has been such a nice cool summer. Normally I am sick of the heat and humidity (even the form of it we typically get up here) and am ready for the cooler days and nights of autumn to arrive, but as I sit and type this at around 3:30 in the afternoon. The temp is a beautiful 74 with low humidity and there is a nice summer breeze flowing through the windows.
    That is pretty much the weather we had occur all this past week and is what we look to see occur this coming week. I have said many times that if summer were strictly temps in the 70's with low humidity, then I would love it nearly as much as I love winter. I was afraid if we actually had that kind of summer some year, that I would have to eat my words, but alas... it is true!
    My only wish would have been to know back this spring that this would be the type of summer we would have, then I would have gotten all of my chores done before all this nice weather came! Then I could have had the WHOLE summer free to enjoy things. 
    I really can't complain though. I have not had to work anything as hard as last summer and have had my fill of times in the pool, walking in the woods and hanging out at the beach. Plus, I have had help with my chores. Actually, both Nora and I have had help with our chores. Gracie is really a great helper. She loves to hang out with me and the pups in the shop and also loves to help Nora out with the flowers and vegetables. Just the other day, she used her truck to tote the watering can down the driveway to some flowers that needed watering. Brains and beauty! Ok, a dad can brag right?
    As I mentioned in last weeks entry, I have been going from hand to mouth with the firewood this summer and it was time to fill up the hand this week. I had spied a couple of dead standing birch and a few cedar that I could get Big Red pretty close to, so the other evening, we headed out and dropped the trees, cut them up and brought them back to the boiler. I have one more small piece of cedar left, but plan to go and drop a few more dead standing birch this evening to give us enough to last this week. It took quite a bit of wood to bring the pool temp up from its low of 68 degrees Wednesday morning, but it was 90 by midday on Friday and I forgot to turn it off yesterday afternoon and when I went out in the evening, was a toasty 94 degrees.
    Yesterday was week 2 for soccer. The team got their uniforms, so they all looked pretty good all decked out in their new white jerseys and black pants. The coach was not able to run things yesterday, so myself and two of the other dads stepped in and ran things. Here I am giving some advice to Duncan, our star sweeper, how to handle the star forward on the other team. I taught him the trick that always worked for me on defense, to knee the other kid in the.... errrr, wait a minute, scratch that. Actually, I was telling him what a great job he was doing at playing defense. 
    I was kept pretty busy with the kitchen cabinet work again this week, but got a lot done. All the uppers are now done and the few drawer fronts that needed to be done also got done. Here is a panorama without the mood lighting. As you can see, there is still the corner cabinet in need of doors. I actually built them this morning, sanded them and put the first coat of finish on them this afternoon. I plan to head out to put the second coat of finish on them this evening and then the final coat tomorrow and get them hung tomorrow. That will leave just one drawer to do. The one under the ovens. It will not take more than a day to make and finish, but we are having some more family in town this week, so it may not get done until late in the week, but if all goes as planned, ALL will be done with the kitchen by next week at this time. Which leaves a few minor things to do before the entire addition/remodel is done! YEE HA!
    With the majority of the kitchen work done, I took the time this afternoon to clean off my assembly table and spread all the notes I had from the kitchen remodel on it. Most of them were actually created by Master Craftsman Jeff Stanley. He is a visitor to the site and friend and actually built our entire kitchen for the cabin. When I was striking out trying to get some help in drawing up the plans for the kitchen remodel, he stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park! Not only did he draw up the plans, but, if you can remember from the March 2013 entries, he also cut up all the case work and then drove up from northern IL with the case work and schooled me in the task of assembly of the cases, as well as the finer points to using European hardware. 
    Anyway, the plans he provided to me were complete, thorough and ran the full gambit from detailed elevation plans for each run of cabinets, to a 3-D presentation of the entire kitchen. I printed out many copies of his plans and used the different copies to make notes for the different processes needed to build the kitchen. I also had several pages of my own hand written notes and calculations. Most of which lead to the proper sizes to cut the panels of plywood for the drawer bottoms and door fronts, so I could compile cutting diagrams to maximize the sheets. Super talented guy and very generous and I am greatly in debt to him for both. 
    So that just about covers it for this one. The bug report is pretty much the same as last week. Mosquitoes about average- which is not a major problem. Ankle biters seem to have run their course and have not been a bother. Deerflies are still an issue. They must not like the cooler weather, as they were not too bad for most of this week, but then after yesterday's 80 degree high, poor Huck was buzzed by lots of them on our morning walk today. Here is a shot of him with just 3 of them on him, but at one time I probably swatted at a dozen of them with my hat and probably killed half of that dozen. They are also much more attracted to dark than light, as Millie never had more than one buzzing her on our walk this morning.
    Speaking of Millie, I have had the privilege to witness what a great mom she would have made. This past week, I was witness to another. I was watching a video on the computer of a guy that went to rescue three pups that were living in a roadside ditch. Their mother had been hit by a car and killed. The pups were very skittish of humans, so it was a real chore for the man to catch the pups and then take care of them. When he was able to catch the first pup, the pup yelped out in fear and immediately Millie sat up in the chair she was laying in in my office and stared at the computer screen. I explained as best I could that the puppy was OK and that the man was just taking the pups so that he could take good care of them. She listened, I am not sure she totally understood, but she did watch the entire video and was extra attentive each time the other pups were grabbed and yelped. But she wagged her tail when the video ended and she saw the pups playing with toys all safe and sound. 
    So I guess that finally covers it for this one. I am actually already working on things for the next ride-in. There are some pretty big doings that I will probably announce in 2-3 weeks, so stay tuned!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

 

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