September 4, 2016-
    I have been a pretty busy beaver and did not get to spend much time with my family this weekend so far, so am going to write tomorrow!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

August 28, 2016-
    So I realize that we still have the labor day weekend to get through, but I suspect that the snow lovers amongst us are starting to feel that little tingle on the back of our heads. Snowmobilers are thinking of grabbing a thumb-full of throttle, the skiers/boarders are thinking about clicking into their boards and snowshoers are thinking about strapping on their snow shoes. It's even hard to believe that in 2 weeks, the largest snowmobile related event on the planet will be getting ready to shut down and in 4-5 weeks, the first flakes could be flying (or forecasted to) across the Northwoods. 
    I can say that I am officially ready for summer to end. Not quite ready for snow, but I would not mind at all having to put on jacket on my morning walks with the pups, or have to sleep with the window barely cracked, or perhaps even get the fireplace going to take the evening chill out of the living room. 
    The swimming pool came down this week and now all that is left is the sand pad. It actually looks like a great place to put a garage, but I am done with construction projects of that scale for a while! I have a few projects to do, some that require fairly decent outdoor weather like painting the woodshed and hanging a sliding barn door on the one side of it, as well as cutting and filling it full of firewood for the upcoming winter. Most other jobs are indoors like remodeling my office and a couple of our bathrooms. I'm really excited to remodel my office. It was great to get out of the little cubby I was in before, but this "temporary" setup that I have been in for the past 3 years is getting old. It's going to have a true Northwoods or even mountain cabin feel to it, sort of like you stepped into the set they filmed A River Runs Though It on. I am even going to incorporate a stand-sit computer desk. My back can really get to aching when I sit for too long and a little research has taught me that to be able to stand for part of your work day is good for not just your back, but for general circulation. The plans are to start packing things up this week, then do the demo work next weekend and start putting things back together after that. 
    It will be a pretty big job as I am going to rip all the drywall off the walls and ceilings, put in some new windows, run some more electrical runs, insulate for sound deadening and then put tongue and groove up on the walls and ceiling, as well as some faux wooden beams. I am also going to be ripping out the carpet and replacing with a laminate wood floor. Once all the remodeling is done, then I will get busy on building some new office furniture for it. I am for sure going to build a new bookshelf, storage cabinet and cabinet for all of my snowmobiling DVD's. I am just contemplating if I want to build a fancy, formal desk in the Greene and Greene style. I guess I will see how I like things once they are all done and if I want the formal office desk or not.
    So the week's weather played out about as expected. We got warm and humid the front half and then cooled off nicely the second half. It would have been nice to have the pool to swim in on Monday and Tuesday, but it was also nice to have it drained and ready to come all the way down once the cooler air hit later in the week. Plus, there was soccer on Tuesday and the Houghton County fair started on Thursday! 
    I had a weird near-fainting spell that sent me to the ER on Thursday, but it turned out to be nothing serious. We do not know what caused it, but it was likely a combination of some of the meds I am on, along with dehydration and maybe a quick drop in blood pressure to my head by being bent over and then standing up. I that last thing happen all the time, but this one lasted 2-3 minutes and if it were not for the chest freezer in the shop, I would have for sure fallen to the ground, but ended up falling on it in a seated position!
    In any case, it gave poor Nora a little scare, but once everything was checked out fine, she ran home, grabbed Gracie, a friend and her uncle Jim and then came back down to the hospital to pick me up and for us all to head over to the fairgrounds.
    There have been some years when it was hotter than you-know-what for the fair, but this year the weather was nearly perfect. Highs in the low to mid 70's and no rain. As a surprise, Nora asked the parents of Gracie's best friend from school if he could join us on our trip to the fair and they were happy to say yes. So the two of them had a total blast going on all the rides they could and even played some games and came home with a few small stuffed animals and other little prizes that were won. It was so fun to watch them have fun on rides like the bumper cars and roller coaster. They were both too short to be able to go on some of the more intense rides, which probably did mom's heart and mind good! I probably would have gone on a few of them, but there is one for sure that I would have opted out of! Maybe 20 years ago, but not now. I even have a faint memory of my cardiologist saying I could not go on rides like that because of my heart valves. Not totally sure of that, but that is my go to excuse these days!
    This week I was "chasing squirrels" on the internet and came across a backyard zip line. At first I thought it was something that you build yourself, but then realized it was a kit you could order, so without the blessing of the one that has all the common sense in our marriage, I went and ordered it. I figured if it were truly dangerous, it would not be sold, after all...you cannot even buy lawn darts anymore!!! Turns out I did not really have to beg for forgiveness rather than permission anyhow, as Nora thought it was a cool thing too. What a cool Mom!
    It came in the mail yesterday, so after soccer, Gracie and I set it up. I bought the one with the shortest length to it, figuring I could probably go and get a longer cable and set up a longer run if it turned out to be a hit. It was pretty easy to set up and in about 15 minutes we went from a little girl that was asking a thousand questions a minutes to a little girl that was zip lining through her own woods! No surprise that it turned out to be a huge hit, she has already spent a few hours riding it and it is quite safe. The most dangerous part is probably getting on it while up on the ladder, but she has gotten quite good at that. I told Nora about my plans to make a longer run and she found a really good one. The current one is 40 feet long and the new one will be about triple that! It will require the removal of a few branches, but not a lot and once the the run is setup, I guess we will have to see what kind of additional safety measures will be needed (if any) for getting onto it. The answer to the two most likely questions you have are: 1) Yes, I did take a few runs on it myself and am looking forward very much to the longer run! 2) I purchased it on line at Cabelas for around 85 bucks.
   So I guess that about covers it for now. I will be continuing the warm season forecasts in text and graphics form for the next 2 weeks, although I am going to be taking Friday the 2nd of Sept and Labor Day off. After Haydays is over, I will be going to just the graphics through the rest of Sept and maybe early Oct and then will take a break before the winter forecasts start! I can also say that in the coming months and years, I have some pretty big plans/improvements slated for the site. The past few years I have not done as good a job at keeping up with the times as I should, but I am excited to get things back up to speed and keep them there. If there are any suggestions from any of you, I am always open to them!
    Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

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August 21, 2016-
    I am going to try and keep this one kind of short, as we are going to go to an evening church service in Jacobsville today. So we will be hitting the road in less than 2 hours and I also need to have dinner!
    I am happy to report that our dewpoint is 46 degrees! How wonderful it feels! It looks like it will creep back up as we head through the first few days of this week, but should not get way out of hand, neither do the temperatures.
    We sure got a ton of rain the past few days. Perhaps not as much as some other places, but about 2" since Thursday night. It rained pretty steadily all day yesterday and did not get any warmer than 62 degrees. Friday was a not so pleasant day for outdoor activity either, but the rain was welcomed. I actually just sat and watched it rain for about an hour yesterday. The woods seemed to be very happy with the falling rain and I know Nora's garden responded well too, more on that in a bit.
    We did have some hot days this week too. Topping out in the upper 80's, with some humidity. We all went to Marquette on Wednesday, as I had to have a little patch of skin cancer removed from the back of my neck, near the hairline. Not really a big deal, as it was not the type to spread and become fatal, but is best to remove so that it will not continue to grow and cause aesthetic issues. The reason why I bring this up is that Wednesday would have been a great pool day. I have actually been limiting my time in the sun this summer. I had a similar tumor removed from my right cheek around 6 months ago, so it looks like my past experiences with cancer, radiation therapy and poor sun-block technology when I was a kid is catching up with me. Just another reason to love autumn and winter I guess!
    The girls did take to the pool on Monday. Temps were in the upper 80's and it was humid. So much so that I remained inside the house with the pups, while the bathing beauties splashed around in the pool. With the forecast calling for limited pool days, I decided to "pull the plug" on the pool Friday morning. It has been draining ever since and is almost fully drained. I suppose we could have used it a day or two this week, but perhaps we can just go to the beach if we really need to cool off.
    Soccer season has started for Gracie and she has already had 3 practices and a game. The first game was yesterday afternoon and they played in the rain, but had a good time and  also won. On Thursday, they had a practice in the heat and humidity. It started at 5:30 in the evening, so the sun was getting lower in the sky and it was not as brutal as if they had practiced just a few hours. 
    My brother Jim played soccer all through his younger years, including getting state recognition as a high school player and getting a scholarship to play in college. So he stepped up and helped out when the coach had to be out of town the past week or so. Here is a shot of him and another parent that stepped in to help coach- run a shooting drill. This is an older age bracket than Gracie was in the past few years, so things are taken a bit more seriously, but in general, it is still most important to have fun and teach the kids teamwork/sportsman ship. In keeping with the having fun theme, the coaches said that every time they got scored on in the drill that they would do some pushups. There are some pretty good shooters on the team and they ended up getting a pretty good workout!
    They have a summer reading program called read to ride up here. There is a form that is filled out and for each book read, the child has a chance to win a brand new bicycle. Gracie joined in this year and I forget how many books she read, but it was a lot and they were not the little kiddy-reader books either. Most of them were pretty long. That has turned her into a total book worm and she had since moved on to the Harry Potter series. She started reading the first one about 3 weeks ago and is now on to the 4th story. It is around 640 pages long and the last one was around 500 pages long.  At first Nora and I thought that she was just skipping words she could not read or understand, but it turns out that she is reading and understanding them all! Nora and I are thrilled that she enjoys reading so much and would rather do that than watch TV or a DVD. She also still loves to play outside too.
    As mentioned at the beginning of this entry, the garden really responded to all the rains. We have been able to go out and pick just about every day, but with the rains we have had recently, no picking got done in the past few days. So when I went out to join Nora in some picking earlier this afternoon, she had already picked a ton of green beans and some peppers. There were also 4 cucumbers that were ready for picking and some zucchini. Gracie brought home a zucchini seedling from school before it let out this spring and Nora helped her plant it in the garden. Today we harvested this monster from that plant and Nora made an awesome zucchini bread with it!
    So that just about covers it for this one. I need to make the announcement that the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club will be holding a work session to fix a bridge and clear the way for a re-route this autumn. The dates will be October 21-22. I do not have all the info on lodging yet, but as soon as I get it, I will pass it along. I plan to make some smoked brisket and pulled pork for the Saturday dinner as well. So mark it down in your calendar and I will keep you informed on lodging options.
    As my final act tonight, I will share with you a picture that Nora took of a momma deer and her fawn feeding in our woods this morning. The image is a little grainy because she was taking it through a window screen. It won't be long before the bucks are running around in rut and then the snows will start to fly!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
August 14, 2016-
    OK, that's it! I am officially ready for summer to end. Well, at least the humidity and temps above 80 part of it. We did not have the hottest week last week, but it was humid and I have come to the conclusion that I am way less tolerant of humidity than heat. Even yesterday, we did not get even get any warmer than 65 degrees, but the dewpoint followed the temperature all day and so it was just muggy all day. The humidity did drop enough to give a pretty good sleeping night, then shot up into the upper 60's today, but has crashed and is now sitting around 60, which is OK for me, not as good as 55 or lower, but not too bad.
    The good news is that the humidity does not look to get way out of hand this week and then by the end of the week, a pretty decent shot of cooler air looks to dump in, bringing almost autumn like weather. Temps in the 60's and dewpoints in the 40's! It is too early to be thinking that the humidity will not return, but time is running out for it to get too humid for too long.
    Were were getting pretty dry up here and got more than enough rain this week. The Houghton/Hancock vicinity picked up 2-4" of rain on Tuesday morning. We did not get nearly that much up this way, but did have quite a bit, even yesterday. So the woods are nice and damp and the grass is greening back up and most importantly, the fire risk was knocked down for a while.
    I made a couple of ventures into our woods this week. One of the trips was to hunt for a suitable blow-down to bring into the shop and make a beam out of to use in our kitchen area. Since the remodel/addition, we have a seating area in the kitchen that is in serious need of more light and I have bounced around different ideas for the past year or two on what I wanted to do and have finally come up with the solution. It is to hang a fairly large beam (around 10"x10" and 6 feet long) from the ceiling and then hang pendant lighting from the beam.
    So Thursday afternoon, I went out into our woods where I knew some cedars had been blown down a few years back. The first trip was just to reconnoiter things and see if there was a downed tree that was suitable and a path that was clear enough to bring the cut piece out to the side by side so I could haul it to the shop. There was a clump of cedars and the base of one of them was just what I was looking for. It would not be too much of a job to move it by hand the 30 feet or so to put into the back of the side by side and get back to the shop. So I walked back, got the chainsaw, did my cutting and then got the piece back to the shop.  
    I then trimmed off the branches, put a set of runners on it and got it ready for the saw. The bandsaw got the call for duty on this job. I put a nice big re-saw blade in it and proceeded to run the log through the saw. Despite the runners and the fact that I had an in-feed table that had rollers on it (which I moved to become the out-feed table once the log was about half way through the saw), it was still quite the job to muscle the log through. After a bit of experimentation, I was able to come up with a process to make things a bit easier and in about 20 minutes I was staring at a nice beam that just needed a bit more cleaning/squaring up. As a bonus, I also ended up with some nice live-edge slabs that will make some nice shelves for when I remodel my office this autumn. So hopefully this week I will be able to finish the job and have the lights for that bar area!
    My brother and, at times, Gracie have been quite busy in the woods as well. Jim asked if he could make some foot trails through our woods and both Nora and I gave an enthusiastic yes! It is something we have wanted to do, but just did not make the time. So the thought of having the foot paths through the woods, without having to do any of the work was awesome! He loves it and is over most days, spending a few hours at a time clearing a path through the woods. He has two paths cleared already and has plans for more. He is doing it in a very non-destructive manner, following the path of least resistance through the woods, so as not to have to disturb too much and also making it easier. Then he just uses his feet to brush most of the ground clutter off to give a nice path to follow
    The other evening after supper, Grace, Nora, the pups and I decided to walk the two paths and then see if we could connect to one of the old rail road grades that is near by. Gracie was so cute, she made sure she got to lead the way and was so proud of the work her and her uncle had put in to making the trails. She made sure to point out some of the important details and even took time out to show us the awesome climbing tree the path meandered past. 
    We were able to make it to the old railroad grade and then followed it around to a road in the neighborhood and then back to our house. All told the trip was probably a little over 2 miles and we all agreed that it would be a great path to take frequently as an evening exercise. The pups had a blast too. They are able to run free through our woods and then we did hook them up as we got closer to the road while walking the R/R grade, but for the most part were able to be-bop around as they chose. The exercise is surely needed for all of us, except maybe Gracie!
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. It sure is hard to believe that we have a little over 2 weeks left in August and summer. I know I do not stand alone when I say I am excited for the change of the seasons. For me the change to autumn and then to winter are my two most favorite for sure and seem to put a extra spring in my step when they happen.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
JD-
August 7, 2016-
    Happy August everyone! I think the snow lovers among us are cracking a slightly larger smile with the progression into this month. In just 4 weeks, it will be labor day weekend, the month will be over and many snowmobilers will have their sights set on Hayday's the next weekend. After a pretty hot and humid week, I know I am enjoying the cooler and less humid air that rolled in on Friday. 
    I guess the reality is we only had 3 days of heat and humidity, but they were enough for me and interestingly enough, for most of the locals. Unless my memory is completely gone, I can remember the hot summers of the early 2000's and how it seemed like I was about the only one that was not happy with the conditions. Now it seems like you are hard pressed to find a local up here that is OK with the heat and humidity.
    At any rate, our days of heat and humidity are close to getting put to bed for the season. The forecast calls for some warm and humid weather the middle of this week, but not has hot as we got last week, with upper 80's tying some of the records for the days. Then another nice cool down for the end of the week and weekend, with maybe another warm up the middle of next week. That will take us to the third week of August and time will really be running out.
    So enough about the weather. I have a ton of pictures to share with you, so better get on it. This past Thursday was Gracie's 7th birthday. My mom and older brother drove up on Tuesday from S. WI to help her celebrate. Gracie sure loves all of her family, so it was a nice treat for them to make the trip north. 
    The big day started out with an apple fritter with a candle in it, just to set the tone for the day. Then after lunch, it was time to open the presents she got from Nora and I, as well as grandma and the uncles. She has turned into a total book worm and is now reading books that are more set for 5th and 6th graders, but is able to read and understand the words, so Nora and I are saying...go for it! One of the books she got from her uncle was a Harry Potter book. She is already about half way through one and can't wait to start that one. One of the bigger ones she got from Nora and I was a basketball net. The uncles were kind enough to put it together for her, while I finished my work for the day and then it was outside to take some shots. I know I am being a bragging parent here, but she really has some pretty good form for a 7 year old. She also seems to love it, so perhaps that will be one of the sports she plays in school. Not as many long distance traveling games in that sport for the schools up here, so I am all for it!
    After her dinner of choice, we prepared her dessert of choice. Mom's famous Jacobsville cupcakes. We put seven on a plate, each with a candle on them, formed them in the shape of the number 7 and then let her make her wish and blow them out. Then it was time to enjoy them! Yum, yum, it was a great choice of dessert on her part!
    We cleaned up and then headed down to the beach. The high for Thursday was 87 and dewpoints were in the mid 70's, so it was pretty hot and very humid for these parts. Things had cooled down some, but were still hot enough to make the beaches on Lake Superior a great place to hang out. It did not take long at all for her and the puppies to get themselves into the water and cool off. Now that she can swim, she is having even more fun swimming with the pups at the beach. Uncle Jim and I had fun watching the show. 
    As the sun was getting lower on the horizon, Grace, the pups and I took a little walk down the beach. Gracie found a piece of driftwood that was probably around 20 feet long and had been pushed up on the sand by a recent wind event. She started working on trying to get it back in the water. I stood nearby, quietly watching her and her efforts. It was not long that she was off looking for another piece of wood. My first thought was that she had given up on the big piece, but instead, she was looking for a smaller piece to use as a lever to get the bigger piece into the water. Once in the water, she floated it down to where the rest of the family was gathered and then got it back onto shore and used her lever again to roll it completely out of the water. I think it is safe to say that a day does not pass where that little girl does not amaze me with either her kindness, beauty, inner strength or intelligence. It is going to be SO fun to watch her continue to grow up!
    Friday was the cool off day and was spent relaxing as well as getting things ready for the kids party on Saturday. We had planned it to be a pool party and told everyone to bring their swim suits. We did have a back up plan for if the weather did not cooperate, but it did in wonderful fashion. So one by one, as the kids arrived, they got into their swimsuits and headed for the pool.
    After some time in the pool, it was time for a dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs, chips and fresh fruit. Oh, and noise makers for each kid. The noise makers were quite the hit! Glad we had invited only 6 kids!!! :)
    Dinner was followed by some more swimming and then time to smack the piñata. Gracie's initial party plans were for a Star Wars theme, but as the event drew closer, she changed her mind to no theme. Since the emperor had already ordered the construction of a Death Star piñata, there was no turning back when the theme was changed. So the Death Star was finished and filled with candy and hung from the garage door opening. My brother Jim and I teamed up to build it and were both proud of how it turned out.
    Gracie got to take the first 2 swings at it. In true Yooper style, we used a hockey stick. She made pretty good contact, but it has been constructed to withstand more than just a couple of good whacks. We worked through the rest of her friends and it was a young hockey player that did the most damage on the first round. He swung with the tip of the blade pointed at the piñata and was able to penetrate it's defenses. Each further swing after that brought the Death Star closer to it's own death and before too long, candy was falling freely from it and the Death Star had been defeated.
    It was then on to cake, ice cream, cards and presents. While not part of the official festivities, we had plans to go to the Keweenaw Roller Derby Girls match yesterday evening at the Houghton County Arena and did put the invite out to those invited to the party to join us if they wanted. A pretty good portion of the kids and their parents too us up on the offer and joined us. This was my first official witnessing of a roller derby and was totally confused by how things went. They announcer did help by explaining things as the match went along and somehow I missed the handout they had with the rules and goals of the game in it. So I will be studying up for the next season (last nights match was the last of the season), as it was pretty fun to watch not even knowing much about what was going on and I can see how it would be a lot more fun once you knew what was going on. My babe and I had fun even though we both were asking each other if the other knew what was going on and Gracie got to meet up with one of the star players- Thimbleberry Slam.
    So that just about covers it for this one. However, I have a few more pictures to share and saved the best for last. They were not taken by me or Nora, they were taken by a local, Mark Upton. He has been kind enough to send me shots from time to time and has also allowed me to share them with you. In the past few years, he has made calendars with some of his shots and I believe you can find them for sale in various spots up here. Anyway, the first is of a firey sunset over Lake Superior. The next is a double rainbow. Third is a magnificent display of the Northern Lights. Here is one of the International Space Station passing overhead with the Milky Way as a backdrop. Last but not least is the space station and the northern lights. A huge thanks to Mark for sharing them with me and allowing me to share them with you. Keep 'em coming! 
Good night from the Keweenaw..

JD-

 

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