November 30, 2015-
    Ok, here we go. Feeling better and have more time tonight. I won't go into the details of my illness, but will just say that although it was just a cold virus, I don't believe I have ever been knocked down so hard for so long and it is good to be working back towards full strength.
    Anyway, I do not have a lot of personal adventures to share with you, as I have not been very adventurous the past 7 days, but there have been things going on. In the weather department we are still trying to find winter. At times it seems like we might have been successful and then like trying to hold water in your hands, it seeps out. To tell you the honest truth, the forecast does not look too promising for true winter either. We do look to see a bit of snow fall later tonight through tomorrow night, but not a lot and mixed with rain, freezing rain and sleet at times. Then pretty quiet and warming for the rest of the week, the weekend and first half of next week. That only takes us to around December 9th, but I highly doubt that there will be much snow-play done around these parts through that date. 
    Of course the forecast can always change and I am not overly bummed about things just yet. I have a pretty full dance card this week and beyond that I will have some things that I can do to keep me from going stir crazy. After that...no promises!
    Before I forget, I would like to re-mention the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club. It has been formed to help raise funds to support the snowmobile trail system up here. The membership is $25 a person and not only will your dollars be going to help maintain our trail system, you can be rewarded too. You will receive a membership card and sticker and there is a "rewards program" that has been set up and members of the club will get special discounts at participating businesses up here. Some good ones have come in already and more are coming in every day or so. So be sure to check out the site and sign up. Based on the rewards we have so far, a person could likely pay for their $25 membership with the rewards in place at the moment.
    In other news, Gracie has been getting closer and closer to losing another tooth. So much so that she wanted to try the old tie the tooth to an arrow trick. Normally we do not let her use her compound with broad head arrows in the house, but this seemed like a time to make an exception. She tried several times, but each time the string (dental floss) came off the tooth. So we ditched that method and about an hour later she declared she had managed to yank it out all on her own. What a kid, in her first 2 years of life, she was pretty much fearless, then seemed to gain some fear, but somewhere in the past 4-5 months, it has disappeared again. Seriously, there is very little that will phase her or that she will not try. Good, but scary at the same time...especially for Mom!
    Thanksgiving is a bit of a blur for me. I do remember preparing the turkey and carving it. I have some recollection of eating too, but disappeared into the bedroom to sleep soon after. While I was in bed suffering in agony...ok, just sleeping... the rest of the Thanksgiving crew fired up the SxS and headed out for a trip in the falling snow. They ended up making their way to the mouth of the Gratiot River and snapped a few pics so we could all see how stirred up the big lake was.
   Black Friday was bed Friday for me and then on Saturday I spent more time being a bum in bed, but the girls did head to Calumet for "Ladies Day" and some shopping and other fun. The two of them looked so cute as they headed off to town. I was told they had a grand time and it does my heart much good to see the two of them having such fun together. Nora snapped this shot soon after a hot chocolate break. Later on in the day, as I lay in bed, when out on the porch there rose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the doorway I flew in a flash, grabbed the doorknob and drew it open in a snap. It was sunny and the moon wasn't out, so I have to skip that part, but what to my wondering eyes did appear, but two Keweeenaw Cuties decking the halls with greenery!
    After the outside decorating was finished, Gracie was feeling bad that the puppies did not get any pumpkin pie at thanksgiving. So she found one last gourd laying the snow and whipped up a little treat for them both. Millie said it was the best pumpkin pie she had ever had!
    Earlier last week I had ordered up a Christmas present for the whole family. It arrived over the weekend, so I decided to open it right then and there and be able to enjoy it before the official holiday actually arrived. At first, Nora declared it was a present for ME. Truth be told, it is a game that I had tons of fun playing with my brother for years and years, but I also knew that Gracie would love it and was hoping that Nora would try it and find it fun too. Turns out, we all did have fun and I think it will be a hit for years to come.
    Yesterday my brother came up to spend the week and do some work on his place up here. The plan is to refinish all the floors on the first floor. They are beautiful hard maple and nice stuff at a full inch thick. This afternoon I helped him some by pulling the base molding off and checking for things that would tear the sandpaper. He just returned after about 4 hours of sanding and declared that the first grit was totally done. 
    Anyway, he also brought up a Christmas present for Gracie and it was one of those that were best to be given right away, than wait. So Gracie got to open up her first Christmas present yesterday and then the two of them proceeded to put it together. It was a new fish tank for her fish Bluie. He is a Betta and was in a simple glass bowl that needed constant cleaning. This tank has plants that grow at the top of the tank and filter the water. There will still be some algae that needs to be taken care of from time to time, but not the stinky messy job like it was.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. Take care and talk to you next month!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

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November 29, 2015-
    Well, I have been battling a pretty bad cold the past 7-10 days that has had be either at my computer working, or in bed resting. I am starting to feel better, but got behind the curve to be able to write tonight, so will write tomorrow.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
November 22, 2015-
    Well, first off...congrats to all of you in the central Midwest that got the white Fri-Sat! There sure were some beautiful pictures posted on the discussion board of the newly fallen snow. Having grown up in one of the areas hardest hit, I do not remember such a healthy storm so early in the season. Hopefully it put everyone into a nice holiday mood!
    We got some snow up this way too, but it paled in comparison, at least in most areas. We made the change over from rain to snow Thursday morning, but it never came down hard enough to make a difference...that is until right at 3:15. How can I be so specific with my time? Well, Thursday I went to pick Grace up from school and there was no precipitation falling at all. The skies were fairly overcast, but there was even one little pocket of sun as I walked from the parking lot into the school. Sometime in the less than 10 minutes I waited for Gracie to meet me in the area parents pick up their kids, it had started to snow. And not snow just a little bit either. In that 10 minutes we had picked up nearly an inch of new snow and it was still snowing heavily. The winds were also howling out of the west at around 45 mph, with some gusts into the 50's. It was almost all I could handle walking back to the truck! Both Grace and I had winter coats on, but hers had a hood and so she was all nice and comfy in it. Mine did not have a hood and I was without a hat as well, so by the time I got to the truck, I was scraping snow out of my left ear and my hair was completely coated in the white stuff!
    It kept up at a pretty good pace for most of the rest of the evening. Nora was hoping it would keep up all night and give her a three day weekend and while I did not think it would keep up that heavy all night, even a few more hours of snow and then let the winds blow at 40-45, gusting to 55 all night and they had a chance. As luck would have it, the snows lightened up soon after I went to bed and we did not pick up too much more. The winds were still blowing hard out of the west when I woke up Friday morning, but the plow operators had done their job and school was a go.
    All told, we ended up with 4" of new snow from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning, although with the winds blowing so hard, you never would have known it from the front of the house shot on Friday. Barely any snow on the roof or the driveway, although in one spot where it had drifted next to the lean-to, there was a drift around 12" deep and in the woods where the winds did not have as much of an effect on the snow, I measured 4". We picked up another inch on Friday and then just a dusting during the day on Saturday. Another 1/2" brought us to 5 1/2" for the event, but there were some other areas that got more, particularly with the snowfall activity Saturday night. I have heard reports of around 5-8" of new snow in the Twin Lakes area as well as over by Munising.
    So while the snowpack might not be that deep in my woods, I suspect that it is fairly healthy in some other spots not too far away. We are still 9 days away from the opener and will lose some Tue-Wed, but with what will stick around and perhaps some more around Thanksgiving and early next week, we might be able to get things going for the opener.
    I can say that while I am not dwelling on getting out to play in the snow every waking moment, I am excited and will hope that once we do have enough to play in, I will have the free time to be able to get out there!
    It was a fairly quiet week otherwise. I had to go to Marquette again on Tuesday. The area of skin that they removed back in early November did not have clear margins, which meant that they had to go back and remove some more. I really hope that they got it all this time, as I really do not want to have to be saying things like "hopefully the third time in the charm!". I have had some bad luck with local anesthesia and have a bit of a phobia with it, so these removal processes are not a lot of fun for me. I know the risks far outweigh the rewards, but I would much rather just be put down. If there is a third time, perhaps Nora can drop me off at a bar for a few hours, she can go shopping and then pick me up when it is time to go get cut up. I believe that is the way that they used to do it back in the olden days!
    I also came down with a cold this week and was feeling the worst yesterday and this morning. So I did not do a ton this past week either. I did manage to bring the Christmas tree in and get it set up Friday and then Nora and Gracie took to decorating it yesterday evening. I suppose for many, it might be a bit too early to be putting up a Christmas tree, but thankfully I married a gal that loves the holiday and decorations as much as I do and that love has worn off on our little girl, so while we are still 4 days away from Thanksgiving, we are all loving the tree and other decorations up. That also frees up some time next weekend!
    We will be having a smallish Thanksgiving gathering this year at our place, with Nora, Grace and I being joined by Nora's cousin and nephew. None the less, I have seen Nora's menu and we will have enough to feed a hockey team! I am just grateful to be spending it with my family and to have a kitchen/house up to the task of hosting a gathering.
    Speaking of being thankful...Graces first grade class is having a show and tell this week and the kids have all been asked to bring in something they are thankful for. Totally un-coached, Gracie asked for some pictures of her whole family. Nora, me, the pups, all the aunts and uncles, cousins, grandmas and grandpas. When we started to look for a picture with Huck and Millie in it, she said we did not need to because she has a picture of her, Nora, Huck, Millie and I in her locker. How did I get so lucky! Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone and...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
November 15, 2015-
    Happy deer hunting day! For those of you not familiar with the ritual, November 15th is always the start of firearm deer season. I have yet to see any deer carrying a firearm, but that's what they call it anyway. Sorry for the bad joke, but I just could not help using it. It was homemade if you could not tell. Anyway, today is the first day of deer hunting season with a firearm. There is also bow season and muzzle loading season. Actually two bow seasons, one before firearm and one after. At any rate, it is pretty much an official holiday in these parts. Since it falls on a Sunday this year, its effects will not be as noticeable, but when it falls on a work day, there are actually some businesses that are shut down.
    Since I am typing this, I still have not caught the bug. I am far from against hunting, but still cannot find the urge to take part and pull the trigger. Call me a wimp, that is fine. I could kill to survive, but just cannot bring myself to do it when I can go to the grocery store and get it already processed and packaged!
    The route that we take on our morning walk changes slightly during both deer season and winter. There is a 1/4 mile stretch where we walk through the woods. During deer season we avoid the route and once the snow gets too deep, we cannot take it. So with the weather not looking good for a walk both Thursday and Friday, I was wondering if Wednesday mornings walk through the woods would be our last until the snow melts in spring. It turns out we were able to walk it yesterday morning. It was done through around 3-4" of snow, but in beautiful blue skies and crisp temps and will be the last time until December 1st at least. Hopefully much longer!
    Anyway, besides deer season, the other big news up here was our first real snow of the season. It wasn't a ton of snow, but enough to cover things up nicely and decorate the woods in Keweenaw Kamo. It was also enough to make the roads slick. By daybreak we had picked up around 2" of snow and then picked up another 2" the rest of the morning. It was a very wet and heavy snow and stuck to everything. It also made for some good packing, so after getting back from Gracie's parent-teacher conference in the morning, we had a good old-fashioned snowball fight. It didn't last too long and was called a draw. I went to do some chores and Gracie got busy doing something else. She kept up with it for quite a while and when finished she declared it her "snow-dog". I'm not sure if Millie or Huck were the model, but it kind of look like a dog!
    After that, we figured there was enough snow on the ground that we could fire up the pink 120 and let Gracie scoot around on it. At first, she looked to have forgotten much of what she learned last year about throttle control, as all she wanted to do was mash the throttle wide open. I have no idea where she gets that from! :) Anyway, I gave her a quick refresher on how to feather the throttle so that she could remain in better control and she was right back to doing a great job. I think this will be the first big winter of riding for her and I might have to look into making some trails through our woods. 
    I was quite tempted to fire up the Rt12 sled, but decided to keep the operation simple and just keep an eye on Gracie and help her out where needed. Although I can say that I now have the riding bug in full force. I am really excited to get out on this new sled and see how the improvements they made to it work out. Plus, I am feeling better than I have the past few seasons and am thus looking forward to getting out and having fun.
    The only downside to the snows were that they did coat the final bit of firewood that needed to be cut. However, we had made some good progress. On Tuesday I got help from two local college boys and then on Wednesday, I called in the big guns to help. The saw is a little big for her right now, but as long as I keep the chain really sharp, she can just let the saw do the work. Just kidding of course, staged photo. 6 year olds and running chainsaws do not mix. Although she did help me stack all of the smaller pieces and it was a real help. Every time I do not need to bend over is a good thing for me!
    So after a final three hour, solo, cutting session yesterday afternoon, I was able to claim victory over the wood pile. I generally do not take selfies, but learned the camera lens on the back of my phone was broke and the front worked, so all the pics this week had to be taken from the front of the phone or they would be blurred like the one of Grace holding the saw was. I can say that I am more than pleased with how I was treated by Apple. First, I called tech support and talked with a real person who also spoke perfect English. Secondly, he was more than willing to tell me that they had some problems on a few of the phones that made the focus not work on the camera and I was eligible for a free fix. The only problem is the closest place to get it repaired was Wausau, WI, so I had to pony up 30 dollars for them to overnight me a brand new one to replace my broken one. So I am quite happy with how that was handled and am a bigger fan of Apple because of it. I am looking forward to being able to take pictures the easy way again!
    So I don't know who will be happier about me being done with the wood cutting, me for not having any more work to do, or you, for not having to read about it anymore! It is funny how it almost obsesses me to get it done. I even have moments of anxiety looking at the pile and knowing it still needs to be done so we can have heat and hot water. I will say that when I was cutting on Monday, I fully enjoyed it. I have ear protection that can play music streamed via bluetooth from my iPhone, so I had some great tunes going. The weather was beautiful, I was in the beautiful Keweenaw woods with my two great pups. Life was good. Although I will not miss moments like that. I will just move the work, tunes and pups into the shop and get busy making some projects on Nora's/my list.
  I am kind of chomping at the bit to get into the woodshop and have some fun. I have it set up very well now and while there are always ways to improve a woodshop, my first few projects will be to make some custom drawers for the kitchen base cabinets and some nice drawers for my walk-in. Then when Nora sees how nice my walk-in is with the custom cabinetry, she will be sending in her order! After that...who knows, the list is quite long!
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. It does look like a lot of rain this week, followed by some honest to goodness cold air and perhaps some decent lake effect snow by the end of the week and possibly into the weekend. Perhaps I had better swap out that loader with the blower on Big Red before I get too engrossed in the woodshop. :)
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
November 8, 2015-
    Greetings from a beautiful Keweenaw! 15 years ago and my tone might have been different, but I can honestly say I was loving the sunshine and high temp of 60 today. Especially since Friday was in the 40's and rain and yesterday was in the 30's with snow. Plus, I am still working on getting all the outdoor work done, namely cutting firewood.
    I was able to cut three other days this last week and am making good progress. The other day when I finished up and was putting things away, I kept walking by this beauty and soon could not help myself, so I turned the key (yep, getting old enough that electric start is almost manditory!) and fired it up and let it run for a bit. I did take some pics of the display reading 0.0 on the odometer and also of the treasured "blue-smoke", but they did not turn out. None the less, the smell of the 2-stroke did get my heart to pumping and I sure am looking more and more forward to winter coming!
    We did get a little taste of it yesterday, as snow showers fell at varying intensity all day. We did not pick up too much in the way of accumulation. Enough to coat things for a brief period, but it did not stick around too long. The only pile I had left this morning was from what slid off the roof. Please do not try and focus your computer screen. That image was blurred pretty bad, as are the next two. I am not sure what happened, but probably a dirty lens. 
    Anyway, that was the first true flakes of the season that I have seen fall. We were out of town 3 weeks ago when they picked up around a half inch and there was another day a week or two ago where I saw some wet flakes mixed in with the rain. 
    I am glad that it did not accumulate much here at all. Calumet picked up around 1-2" and I suspect that much of that was still there this morning. My plan was to take advantage of the nice weather today and cut wood and it would not have been fun to have to wait for the snow to melt and things to dry up enough to get cutting, hauling and stacking.
    As fate would have it, the conditions were perfect for working. Gracie and I even finished up with the last bit of leaves to be raked and then got busy with the firewood, while Nora pulled all the screens off the windows and then washed them so we can watch it snow in full clarity. Unlike the pictures of the dogs helping me make firewood, the shots of Gracie are not staged and she really does help! I am actually amazed at the logs she wants to lift, but do not let her do them, as she is too young to be having back problems! She does manage the smaller ones and it is a big help.
    There has been some solid progress made this week and I believe we are now 1/2 way through the pile of maple. A few more 1 hour cutting sessions and we will have enough cut and stacked to get us through the winter and then should a meaningful snow be seen in the forecast, I can just move what is left over to where the birch pile was and keep cutting as the weather permits. With a little luck, perhaps we can get through all of the rest of the wood by this time next week. I know my schedule this week is a lot more open than last!
    I suppose the big news to this week will be the resumption of the snowfall forecasts as well as the unveiling of a new addition to the site. I might even have a bit of snow to forecast for. Not that it is too unusual of a thing for this time of the year in the Northwoods, but I know the anticipation of the snow-play season is growing!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

November 1, 2015-
    Welcome to November everyone! For the snow lovers among us, especially the snowmobilers, this has to be one of the more exciting, but also slow moving times of the year. We are just a week and two days away from "opening season". Seems hard to believe and also a bit scary. Scary because I still have quite a bit of wood to cut and stack.
    This past week was not a friendly one for trying to get it done. I was pretty busy with things Monday and Tuesday and then it rained all day Wednesday and Thursday. I was able to get a bit done on Friday, but then the weather turned wet for all of Saturday. The first half of this week ahead looks a little more friendly from a weather standpoint, but I have some stuff on Monday and will be at the Dr all day on Wednesday for a little excision of a non-malignant skin thinggy from my right cheek. Then the weather gets iffy for the end of the week again. I'm not ultra concerned, but will admit to my concerns growing. The main concern is not for snow alone. I can work through that. My fear is that we get a decent dumping and then a quick warm up (which happens lots this time of the year), with the snow clearing off the shop roof and onto the pile of uncut logs and burying them in 4 feet of snow. I can always move the logs away with Big Red if I see that kind of weather coming, but would rather just get everything cut and stored!
    So that is about enough of my firewood saga, but I do have one more tidbit to share. After finishing up cutting this Friday. I was walking back to the house and the pups were coming in with me. I looked at them and made a comment to them about how I wished they could help me with the cutting of the wood. I stepped into the shop to put my gloves away and when I came out, Huck had this in his mouth. So I guess they wish they could help too.
    Despite the lack of sun and even pretty rainy weather, I am still loving the state of the woods right now. Sometimes it seems to me like they have shed all of their leaves and are now ready to do battle. First with the rains and ferocious winds that November brings and then the heavy snow, cold temps and howling winds of winter. November is only 2 days old, but so far the winds have behaved themselves.
    This is also the time of the year when the website wakes up for the winter. I will be doing it in stages this week. I was thinking about starting everything up on Monday or Tuesday, but with not being able to do a forecast Wednesday and not a lot of snow seen in the next 4-5 days, at least, I figured I would just roll some of the winter features out on Thursday and Friday and then start the forecasts next Monday.
    I can say that this will be unusually mild through midweek and then will turn cooler and some snows my coat portions of the Northwoods by the end of the week, but if you are wanting to see some deep snows, be sure to check out the western cams in the NCN- especially in NW WY and SW MT Mon-Wed of this week. This could be the "season starter" for some areas out there.
    I don't have too much more to say. As mentioned, the weather was quite wet this past Wed, Thur and yesterday. That meant a wet Halloween. That did not deter the Dee's or many other families from going trick or treating. I gave a tease of what we would be for Halloween last week and can now say that Grace was "Luke Skywalker" and I was "Darth Vader". I promised to her that we would have one light-saber fight with her at the first stop of the evening (which is always the woman that watched her for us before she started school). The rest of the evening was spent going door to door in traditional form
    So I thought I was done having light saber battles, but somewhere in Laurium, out of nowhere... I met my match. A mini-me. We had a good duel, but it ended in a draw, as the lure of more doors opening with hands full of candy reaching out to us was a more powerful "force".
    It was pretty neat to see so many kids and their parents out in the nasty weather. The temp was 45 degrees and a steady, light, rain was falling the entire time, but it was like it was sunny and 60 to every one. Never a doubt as to the toughness of the trick-or-treaters up this way! Last year and in 2012, we had to walk through snow.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

 

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