June 26, 2016-
Sheesh! Last entry for June!
About 10 years ago, this would have probably been a celebration for me, but
in my old age I have come to be able to actually like summer! Don't get me
wrong, I love a 3 foot snow storm more than anything (except for one that
brings more than 3 feet!), but we really do have some beautiful weather up
here in the summer.
This week was nothing short of spectacular as far as the
weather goes. Some chilly mornings, with lows in the 40's, but then it
warmed into the 60's and 70's most days and even made it into the 80's
Friday and again today. We have been blessed with pretty low humidity so far
this summer too, so if you need an escape from the heat and humidity, this
would be the place!
It was a relaxing, but still busy week. I kept busy with
work, but did not have any deadlines, so that is what made it relaxing. The
first order of business was to finish the rest of the
planters for Nora's garden. The next task was to repair the lawn where
the tractor had torn it up. Now I know why they use turf tires on golf
courses! I also picked up the materials for the fencing, but so far, we have
not had any critters stepping up to the salad bar...knock on wood! So that
will be a project for another day.
The pool was filled last weekend and has been getting
some good swim time. I set up the redneck pool decking and other features I
do to make things a
little more cozy. The decking is construction scaffolding, but hey, it
works pretty good! The heater has been keeping the water in the upper 80's
and the addition of the rigid foam insulation underneath has helped a ton in
allowing the water to retain its heat. Even with the temps falling into the
40's many nights this week, it was not tough to keep the pool water nice and
warm. That helps to keep this
face happy, as well as her mom and dad's faces smiling while swimming!
The girls did some exploring this week and came across a
pretty good sized turtle. With as long and cold as our winters are up
here, I am amazed that any kind of reptile can survive up here. I guess they
sure must make the most of the warm months we have! Here is a shot of Gracie
posing with the turtle. As you can see, she was with her mom and was
keeping her distance. Had she been with me, I would have probably dared her
to ride on the back of it or something stupid like that! That brings up a
point, ALL but the first three pics in this entry are courtesy of Nora. I
was a real slacker in the picture taking department this week.
On Saturday, Pasty-Fest was held in Calumet. I'm guessing
we are not the ONLY place in the world that holds a celebration for the
pasty, but probably one of a handful! Anyway, its a fun time, there is a
parade. Complete with marching
band, a few "floats"
and of course a pasty!
It's not Macy's, probably at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, but
I love it! I love how old fashioned and laid back things are up here. It is
truly like living in Mayberry with Andy, Barney, Aunt Bea and Opie. In the
next block over, there were a
bunch of vendors set up selling crafts and other items. The national
park had a little photo stand set up and Gracie
and one of her friends stepped into it to pose. I kind of freaked me
out, as their faces seemed to fit perfectly in the cutouts and they looked
like actual rangers. Well, at least to me, but it could have been one of my
The sad part about the festivities were that they were
cut short by a strong thunderstorm. It really moved in quick from the NNW.
We were actually standing down by the main stage and were talking with the
lead organizer, who we are friends with, and she asked me if I could go to
the main stage, take a look at things on the computer they had there and let
me know what they thought.
So I got to the computer, brought up a radar image in in
that short amount of time, the skies went from somewhat threatening, to
nearly pitch black, complete with a shelf cloud. I saw a bow in the radar
echo and put it together with the shelf cloud and told them there was a
nasty storm coming and to tell everyone to seek a safe place to ride it
Immediately after that, Gracie, Nora and I took off
towards the car, which happened to be parked around 8 blocks away. I don't
think I have moved that quickly for as long of a stretch since my first open
heart surgery and my body sure let me know! We did end up making it to the
car just as the first few rain drops were starting to fall and then made our
way home through a torrential down pour, with flashes of lightning and some
very strong winds. We ended up getting a little over 3 inches of rain in
around 2 hours and here is a shot
out of one of our front windows during the down pour. No need to water
the gardens yesterday!
So I think that about covers it for this one. Hard to
believe that next weekend will be the Independence Day Holiday weekend
already. This summer seems to be flying by faster than any that I can
remember since moving up here and we still have a ton to fit into it!
Have a safe and great week and holiday weekend!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
|This business directly
June 19, 2016-
Happy Father's Day! I
feel so blessed and honored to be able to be called a dad. I can honestly
say that I will never forget this
moment...the second I first laid eyes on our beautiful daughter. There
was so much running through my mind at that moment, but I think the biggest
two emotions were pure joy and disbelief that this precious gift had been
given to me. The look on Nora's face is priceless and speaks volumes. What a
So this has been a great week for me. As I wrote last
week, my whole family traveled north to pay a visit. What I did not mention
was that they all made the trip to help me celebrate my 50th birthday! I
have to admit that in the months leading up to this one, I did think about
it and anticipate it more than any other birthday that I can remember. I can
also admit that I NEVER had a single negative feeling associated with the
event. I am actually very excited to be 50 and do not feel a bit older than
I did before. I consider it a gift from above to be able to have made it
this far! My poor body has cheated death 7 times so far, but I am also happy
to say that I feel as good as I have in nearly 10 years. I have no idea how
many more trips around the sun I have, but have loved the ride so far and
look forward to as many as I have left...hopefully quite a few!
For my birthday, Nora treated myself and all of my family
to a delicious meal at the Harbor Haus in Copper Harbor. The weather was
perfect and after dinner we went outside to greet the Isle Royal Queen as
she returned from the island with her load of passengers. The Harbor Haus
has a neat tradition in which they ring a giant bell and the waitresses line
up and do a little dance to welcome everyone back to the other island.
It was a great dinner with fantastic company. It's not
easy to get all of the Dee clan together in one spot and I am very grateful
to my Mom and brother Ed for making the trip up from S. WI and especially to
my sister Jeni for making the trip all the way from OK! My brother Jim, who
lives here, was actually in Chicago for an art fair and woke up before the
sun on Monday to get back nice and early to join in on things. Although they
did not have to make a special trip to join us, it was no less special to
have my two beautiful
ladies with me on my big day as well.
After dinner we came home and relaxed while having cake
and opening presents. Nora stepped up to the plate and knocked it clear out
of the park with my gifts. One was an autographed MI Tech Hockey jersey from
this years team and the other was a top of the line smoker to replace the
one that got smashed in a roof clearing avalanche a few years back. She
tried to time it so that the smoker would arrive on my birthday, but that
was a pretty hard trick to pull of as it was coming freight from Louisiana.
It did arrive on Wednesday and I was so pumped to take Big Red out to the
road to unload it off the semi and bring
it to it's new home.
Part of what makes it such a special smoker is that it is
build entirely out of ceramic, so it holds the heat extremely well. Plus, it
is very easy to regulate the temperature from the low 200's (for smoking) to
700-800 degrees for baking bread or pizza. Needless to say I did not waste
too much time un-boxing it and putting it together. The assembly was pretty
easy and although they strongly recommended two persons put the main body of
the grill on it's stand, I could not wait and was able to get it done
without breaking it or my back! Nora showed up just in time to watch me
put the finishing touches on the assembly. So without further adieu, let
me introduce you all to K-Joe.
That is short for Kamado Joe, the brand of smoker it is.
They strongly suggest that you use lump charcoal in it
rather than briquettes. The two main reasons are that the lump charcoal will
last a lot longer than briquettes. One load of lump will be enough to get
you through an entire smoking period (12-14 hours). The second reason is
that briquettes will only heat things to 600 degrees, while the lump will
allow you to go way beyond that for that "stone oven" replication.
Lump charcoal proved to be pretty hard to find in my immediate location, so
I ended up ordering some from the Ace in Calumet. I was also able to get the
fire starters that they suggest be used. Those were scheduled to be arrive
on Saturday, which they did, so the plan was to fire it up today and smoke a
brisket. So last night, I gave a nice slab of brisket a spice rub down and
wrapped it up to spend the night in the fridge. Then today at around 4 am I
woke up, got the grill started and put the meat in it when it was ready. We
are around 2 hours away from "go time", but it is all I can do to
keep from ripping off a part of the
"bark" right now. To those that have never seen a brisket
smoked, they look pretty nasty on the outside when done. The spice rub mixes
with the fat and other juices from the meat and forms what looks like a
burnt piece of meat. However, it is not really the meat that is burnt, just
the rub and a millimeter or two of the outside of the meat. The rest is this
pull-apart miracle of cooked meat that has a flavor you cannot replicate in
any other fashion.
The thought of eating the brisket has reminded me that
the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club will be having a trail work session this
autumn. We will not be doing any brushing, but rather will be re-building a
bridge in our system. In previous trail work sessions, I cooked up some
brisket and pulled pork and I see no reason why that will not be done for
this one! I do not know the date of the work session just yet, but it will
not likely be as late as others have been. Perhaps the end of Sept or early
Oct. I will be sure to let you all know the specifics when they become
The other big deal this week was the putting up of
the pool. I am still hoping for the day when I just say the "opening of
the pool" and not putting up, but it really is not that big of a deal.
I had lot of help this go around. My brother Jim came over and helped with
things and even Gracie
got into the action. We like to keep the pool very warm (upper 80's), so
this year I decided to put down some rigid insulation underneath the pool to
help with the insulation as well as provide for a nice soft, but firm
surface to stand on. I don't know who had more fun Gracie
hauling the insulation over (it weighs all of about 2 lbs) or Jim and I
watching her do it! Even Huck
jumped into the work session and helped to hold down the insulation
until we got the pool on it.
We were able to get everything done in a little over an
hour and began to fill it. It's becoming a tradition for Gracie to get into
the pool as it is filling and have some fun and she
kept the tradition going this season. That was actually Uncle Jim
squirting her with the hose water, not me, although from that distance we
could probably pass for each other. Poor guy!
It is now completely filled and the heater is going full
blast. Last I checked, at around 10 am this morning, it was at around 75
degrees. The heater can usually raise the water temp around a degree an hour
and it is 88 degrees outside, so it may be in the 80's already and I might
just brave things. Otherwise, the weather looks pretty good for swimming in
the days and weeks ahead.
With it closing in on 90 degrees, it's hard to believe
that on Wednesday evening I was cutting firewood in my Carhart winter coat
and not getting overheated at all! Crazy Keweenaw weather!
Well, I guess that about covers it for this one. Have a
wonderful week everyone!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
June 12, 2016-
Greetings from the Keweenaw!
We have company in town, so this will probably not be too long. I guess I
can start out with the weather. Autumn arrive early this week, with highs
only in the 30's on Tuesday and lows in the low 30's Wednesday morning. Some
of the favored cold spots around here even dropped into the upper 20's and
there was some frost. No frost here, which was a good thing as the
girls planted the gardens. They got the 6 already made pretty well
filled up with berries, veggies and some flowers. We got the rest of the
soil needed for the final three and I plan to get those made and filled this
Despite the cold temps earlier this week, we did not turn
the heat on. It did not get real cold inside, but I know I was reaching for
an extra blanket on two of the nights! We did warm up nicely by the end of
the week and hit 83 by Friday, with loads of sun.
We also were getting to the last few logs for the wood
boiler, so I ordered up a short load to get us through the summer. We do not
need it for heat obviously, but do heat the domestic hot water with it and
also warm the pool water with the boiler. We have more
than enough to get us through the summer and I am looking forward to
putting the pool up and getting it all nice and warm.
This week was the last week of school for Gracie. Nora
works all summer, but does have a bit more flexible schedule and a little
lighter work load for most of the period. The last day of school was
Thursday and it is only a half day. Last year we started the tradition of
taking Gracie out for lunch and repeated
it again this year. Those two beauties!
Friday was a bit of a down day and then late in the day
on Saturday, my mom, older brother and sister arrived. I knew my mom and
brother were coming up, but my sister lives in OK and has only been here
once before and that was for when Nora and I got married, so I was very
surprised and happy to see her show up with my brother and mom!
Today we got a little bundled up and headed down to the
mouth of the Gratiot River for some rock picking. Here is a shot of myself
with my brother and sister. It's in the low 60's here, but down by the
lake it was only in the low 50's, so we were all very glad to have brought a
jacket and/or sweatshirt. Grace has been pretty much stuck to my mom ever
since they all arrived and they both are loving their
time together. We all love where we live, but it would be nice if it
were not so far away so that we all could visit more often.
Most of the gang settled into rock hound mode and
looked for agates and any other interesting rocks. Gracie loves rocks
and gems and came back with a couple of tubs of them for her rock garden. I
chose to lay down, get out of the chilly breeze and soak
in some rays. Everything was going fine until the pups saw another dog
arrive and decided to take off to say hi to it. They were on their extension
leashes and I awoke out of a deep sleep trying to keep them from getting
away. Too little too late. They were able to pull the leashes out of my hand
and go and pay a visit. I never worry about them being aggressive with other
dogs, but do not like them running free to say high to total strangers,
especially total strangers with a dog! All turned out fine. The other dog
was probably a little overwhelmed by Huck and Millie's greeting, but seemed
fine and after shaking the cobwebs out of my head, I went over and got Huck
and Millie and brought them back to where we were relaxing.
I think the pups were extra pumped up at the beach today,
as this was their first visit in at least 4 weeks. Huck is still recovering
from his knee surgery and is doing quite well, but we still have to keep him
(or try and keep him!) from running or doing too much. They were able to
go for a little swim and drink down some of Lake Superior's goodness. A
couple of more weeks and Huck will be able to do even more.
So I think that about covers it for this one. Looks like
a pretty nice week up here and I am sure I will have more to write about
Good night from the Keweenaw..
June 5, 2016-
Welcome to Summer!
Although for those of you reading from a near-by location, that might be a
bit of a stretch. Our topsy-turvy weather has us in the cold phase right
now. It rained most of the day yesterday and saw a high in the low 50's. The
sun is just trying to peak out as I type this, but all of today we have been
in rain and temps in the 40's and low 50's. By the end of this coming week,
we could be solidly in the 80's. Welcome to June in the UP!
Before I go on, I need to give some photo credits from
last week's entry. Nora has been a very active photographer of late and has
been kind enough to share them with me, so I can share them with you. So
photos 11, 12, 17 and 18 were her doing. I really do not know of a way to
give her credit in a seamless manner, so may just blockhead it out until I
can think of something creative! No submissions this week from Nora,
although I know she has taken some.
So despite our cool weather of late, the amount of
sunlight during the day is very much summer-like for the UP! Our sun rose at
exactly 6 am this morning and will not set until 9:45 this evening, That is
15 3/4 hours with the sun visible. If you want to take it a step further and
go for civil twilight (the time before sunrise and after sunset when there
is enough sunlight to clearly make out all details), then that time gets
boosted to 17 hours and 4 minutes. Nautical twilight is the period before
and after civil twilight when there is still enough light to make out the
shape of objects, but not see the details clearly...Usually the time when,
as kids, would get called inside because it was getting to dark to play on
the highway anymore. :) The final type of twilight is astronomical twilight.
That is the period before and after nautical twilight when the sky is
illuminated by the sun, but you cannot make out any shapes of things here at
the surface. Including astronomical twilight, we have some form of sunlight
for 21 hours and 22 minutes. Or maybe put more easily, it is only pitch
black out for 2 hours and 38 minutes this time of the year. We still have 2
weeks until the solstice, so all of those numbers will grow until
Unless you don't need sleep, it is pretty important to
have some good shades in your bedroom windows! We do and is also the reason
why I designed our addition to have the master bedroom in on the east and
north side of the house to try and limit the amount of sunshine that gets in
as well. For the record...I sleep pretty good during these days, or at least
am not impacted by light getting into our bedroom.
So now that the lesson in twilights is over (you are
welcome for that!), I can talk about what has been going on since last
Tuesday! I wrote the entry in the early afternoon and soon after finishing,
the girls came home from school. We are in baseball season up here, so
almost every Tuesday and Thursday she has a game. She is still in the league
where the coach pitches to their own team and each player gets to bat each
inning, with the final batter cleaning the bases. They get 3-4 pitches and
if unsuccessful, hit off the T. It is a great way to go for the kids at this
age. They all get to hit when their team is on offence and all stay at home
plate until they hit the ball. Most are quite good at hitting it off a
pitch, and only a few of the very young ones end up hitting it off the T.
They also play for only 60 minutes. If you ask me, they should have a 15
minute warm up and then play for 45 minutes, as most of the kids start to
lose focus after 60 minutes of playing. Most teams so up 15 minutes early to
practice as well.
Nora, Uncle Jim and I have all been working with Grace on
her throwing, catching and hitting and she is really coming along. I think
if she wants to stick with it, she will be able to play at the HS level.
They have brought back baseball for the boys and softball for the girls at
the HS level and it is really catching on. I guess it was dropped around 20
years ago or so.
The weather can be a little touchy this time of the year.
A game was rained out last week and both games were played this week,
although Tuesday's game was played in temps in the 40's, overcast skies and
a brisk NW wind. Actually, not too bad for the players, but pretty brutal
for the observers! Here is a shot of Gracie
in the "On-Deck" circle at Tuesday's game. Thursday's game
also had some chilly temps, but not much wind and the sun was out...big
difference! So far her team is undefeated! Little joke there.
After a dry spring, things sure have turned wet in the
past 2-3 weeks. I don't know the exact amount of rain we have picked up, but
it would be safe to say that in that time frame, we have picked up 60-80% of
our average rainfall for June-August! No flooding issues like in other parts
of the country, but the
woods sure are green!
Despite the rains, I have been able to get 6 out of the 9
planters done for Nora's garden. The first one took the most time as the
learning curve was under way, but I have gotten it down to the point where
it takes me around 45 minutes to an hour to
build one. They are then light enough for me to pick up and move if I am
alone. On Friday, we got 20 yards of topsoil delivered and then Big Red was
put to good use moving the soil into the beds. I cannot even begin to
imagine what it would have been like to have to use a wheel barrow and
shovel. Each bed took 8
bucket loads of dirt from Big Red! So we
currently have 6 done and 3 more to go. We used up all of the topsoil,
so I will be ordering up another 10 yards, but it might not come for a while
as it will need to try out some from the weekend rains. None the less, there
are enough planters done that she can get a lot of things planted until the
rest are done. A fence will be needed in the future, although this year we
may forgo it, just because we are getting a late start and many of the
berries will not even produce this year.
So not much else going on. This is the final week of
school for Gracie. She has tomorrow and Tuesday as regular days, then
Wednesday is an almost all day picnic and Thursday is just a half day. Then
she is all mine for the summer! Well, I have a feeling that she will also be
hanging out with Uncle Jim quite a bit and though Nora works through the
summer, she uses a lot of her vacation time, along with going in early to be
able to get out in the early afternoon. With the warmer temps promised for
the end of this week, I might even get going on putting the pool up!
Good night from the Keweenaw..