September 25, 2016-
    Well, you have me again this week. Nora is still working on her journal. I have seen a bit of it and can say that it will for sure be worth the wait. I know I am really looking forward to reading it. She has done a ton of work on it already, but just does not want to rush through it. So it looks like at least one more week of waiting.
    My week has been a busy one. Nora was out of town at a conference from Monday through Wednesday. With Grace at school most of the day, it does not change things too much for me, but I do have to get Grace up, fed breakfast and then make sure she is ready to go to school. Then I drive her there and am free until around 3 when I have to go pick her up. Once home, I typically stop most of my working, so I can spend time with her. So the first 3 days of this week were shortened a bit in how much time I had to work on things, but I did manage to get the office nearly done.
    I say nearly done, because there are still a few things to do like make some beams for the ceiling, build my desktop and do some decorating. However, the "heavy lifting" is done...so to speak. All the walls are done, the new window went in Thursday afternoon and I was able to put in the new flooring and move things around to their approximate location. 
    I am not going to wait until it is totally done to do the reveal to you all, as I really do not know when it will be totally done. It is done to the point where I can do all the work I need to do and not have to move things around like computers and work stations. So I will likely be moving on to some other projects that are also looming over my head, like making firewood and some other outdoor chores.
    So, after 3 weeks of grunting and groaning and hitting my fingers with a hammer, here is the nearly final product that I can call my office. If you forget what things looked like before the remodel here is a shot just before the demo took place. Here are the two of them in one photo, so you can see all that was done. Gone is the nasty carpeting, the drab walls and small window. I love the "Northwoods" feel to the room now and will be decorating it in that style as well, including a new area rug. The nasty metal filing cabinet will be going as well, and I am going to build a nice one out of wood. 
    The one thing that has changed in my plans now that I am to this point, is that I am not going to be building a formal work desk and putting it in the room. There just really is not enough room for one. I am thinking about building a smaller work desk and put it along the one wall that is not in the photo, but we'll see. The desk in the photo was a mock-up and I have learned from it that I want to extend the right hand side of it another foot to give me some more desktop space.
    In addition to the big things done during the remodel, there were some smaller custom details also done. Like an outlet that is dedicated for USB power, a couple more outlets placed in some strategic spots to make plugging in all the equipment easier and a pipe to vent the portable AC's heat through to the outside, rather than take up part of one of the windows.
    It really has not sunk in that this remodel project is pretty much done. I think it is because it has been such a whirlwind experience! Well worth it, but I have come to the realization that I may not be able to put carpentry on my fall back list of occupations if this weather forecasting thing does not work out! At the end of each day, my body was quite sore- especially my poor beat up back and knees. The few times I had to go into the woodshop to do some work, it was vastly different. No bending over or kneeling made for very comfortable work. So perhaps cabinet maker is still an option.
    Switching gears completely, Gracie had her third to last soccer game yesterday. The weather cooperated for both her game on Tuesday and yesterday. Tuesday's game was in the evening and the evenings are getting much chillier now than they were just a few weeks ago, but it makes it better for the kids, as they do not get overheated and I am fine with it, just have to dress for it. Yesterday's game was in the midday, but it was still chilly enough that Nora put an extra layer underneath her uniform. She almost scored a goal...twice!
    This morning before the rain hit, we took a walk in our woods. I just love the trails that my brother and Grace have put in this summer. It is so relaxing to walk through the woods and is hard to believe that we are walking through OUR woods and not a park or something. While Nora and I walk and take it all in, Gracie and the pups race through the woods and take it all in in a different way.
    Nora's garden is still cranking away. We have not had a killing frost yet, not even close actually. Plus daytime highs were in the 60's and low 70's this past week and solidly in the 70's prior to that. That has allowed the sunflowers to head out. The other plants are still pumping out the veggies at full speed. So much so that Nora needed to use a wheelbarrow to collect everything. I sure hope there is some zucchini bread in our future with those two giants in that shot!
    So as mentioned, the weather has still been more like summer than autumn up here. The trees are changing a bit, but are only around 10% changed in most spots up our way. This past week was a bit cooler and it looks like the week ahead will be even more so. It looks to get cold enough to generate some lake effect rain tomorrow and Tuesday. No snow and none is seen in the forecast for the next 10 days at least, but that is fine by me. 
    A couple of reminders...The Keweenaw Snowmobile Club will be holding our annual trail work session on October 21-22. We have a re-route in the Mohawk area to do as well as some bridge repair. All able bodied persons are invited to head up and have some fun in the woods that weekend. The Trailside Lodge in Calumet and D's Basecamp in Toivola both are offering up free lodging to workers. So you just have to call them and make your reservations. There will be a free dinner on Saturday and right now I am planning on doing up some smoked brisket and pulled pork. We sure could use the help this season, as there are some very important jobs to get done. If you have any other questions, feel free to shoot me a note.
    The Milwaukee Snowmobile Show is not too far away, and I will be attending it for the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club this year. We will have maps, as well as the ability for all to sign up/renew their membership to the club and then get the new cards/stickers. I also plan to bring some ThinkSnow stickers to sell. I will be there Friday night and all day Saturday, but do not plan to be at the booth Sunday. 
    So I think that about covers it for this one. I have just one final pic to share with you. It is of a painting that Grace did at her uncle Jim's. He is an artist by trade and a good one and Gracie has really taken an interest in art. So he gave her some space in his studio and let her create this painting that is hanging in her bedroom
    Talk to you all next month and until then...
Good Night from the Keweenaw..

JD-

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September 18, 2016-
    Happy September 18th! If I were to be waking up from a coma and have to base the date on the weather, I might think it was more like the end of August, rather than the 3rd week of September. I'm not complaining (too much!). I am still in the midst of my office remodel, which means that I still have some outdoor work to do. Namely the firewood for the season, but I am planning on putting the shops on a regular cast iron boiler, so will not need to make as much wood. In any case, I guess my only complaint with the weather this past week would have been the humidity. We did get some rain too, but it did not really interfere with things too much. The humidity, while not at high levels was enough to feel, with dewpoints ranging from around 60-65 degrees. My dewpoint right now is at 61, which is enough to cause one to perspire a bit more when being active and so I have been doing some perspiring during the remodel.
    It is getting closer to being done. 2 walls and the ceiling are all done. One wall just needs to be stained and the fourth wall needs to be opened up and re-framed for a new window that will be arriving this Thursday. Once the window is done, then I can finish the interior and exterior of that wall. I plan to get about half of the flooring in and then wait until I am done with the exterior wall work to run the flooring over there.
    After going around in circles on what kind of a desktop I wanted to do, I finally came up with the "final answer". It is going to be totally home made and I have not seen anything similar done. So I guess I am hoping it turns out like I want it to! If not, I have lots of other options. I am going to save the reveal of the desktop and rest of the office remodel until it is all done. With a bit of luck, that could be the next entry!
    It has been fun to do though. I did get stressed when I first tore it all up and had my work computers all over the place. Then the lightning strike the day after Labor Day did not help with the stress, but as I have progressed through the stages, the stress level has dropped and I am really looking forward to having it done. It will be my office, but perhaps also my true "Man Cave".
    I think the thing that I am most excited about it that it will finally be set up just how I want it. When I moved the office down into its current room, we were still doing the addition/remodel and I could not do this room like I wanted, so sort of threw things in place and got by. Well, here we are...3 years later and I am finally getting to it!
    So other than my regular work, some play with the family and the remodeling, not much has been happening with me. I actually thought Nora was going to write this entry, but she has decided to hold off until a future entry, as she has a very special experience and information/pictures to share with you all and she wants to get everything ready to go, rather than just rushing into it. I am not going to spoil what it is, but I think you all will really enjoy what she has to share.
    The pups and I have finally gotten back onto our morning walk schedule. The mornings have been pretty nice. A bit muggy at times, but not hot. Some mornings require a light jacket and others let me wear shorts and a t-shirt. The one common factor has been the higher humidity and pockets of fog. By the time we hit the trail, most of the fog has burned off and we are not putting ourselves at risk by walking the side of the road in poor visibility. 
    It feels really good to be back to walking with them. I took most of the summer off, as Gracie was home and I could not leave her at home alone. By the time she rolled out of bed most mornings, I was past my little break time and could not go. The pups are even more excited than I am. They sure do love their morning walks. It does not matter where we go, they just love to put nose to ground and check out all that has happened recently. I think we all are enjoying the exercise too. I know just in the few weeks that I have started walking, I have lost a few pounds and still have a few to go.
    With the change of seasons, the critters have gotten more active in looking for food or shelter or both. There are almost always a few deer hanging out around our place all summer long, but the autumn is when they seem to get a bit more brave in where then go and when. Nora even spotted a nice 6-8 point buck just down the road from our place the other evening. Yesterday morning, the pups, Gracie and I spotted this one in our woods. Kind of looks like one of last years youngsters.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. I have one final picture to share with you. It is of the girls when we went out to dinner the other evening in Eagle Harbor. How did I get so lucky?! :)
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
September 11, 2016-
    It was an adventurous week to say the least. At around 5 am Tuesday morning, right as I was in the midst of doing my morning work, lightning decided to hit our house! It actually did not hit the house directly, it hit the driveway and then traveled to the house. That is the first time I have ever been in the direct vicinity of a lightning strike. I can best describe it as like a bomb went off. The flash and boom were at the exact time and the loss of power was a few milliseconds after. 
    It did not take me more than a second or so to figure out what had happened, so my first act was to call out to the girls to make sure they were OK. At that point, I was not sure where the lightning had hit and there was the potential that a window was open in the rooms they were still sleeping in. My first call out came back with no answer and sent a wave of fear rushing through my body. I was just passing through the doorway of my office into the living area, so I called out when I got closer to the doorways to the rooms they were sleeping in and they both answered, "yes, we are both fine". At that very instant, it no longer mattered what damage had been done. We all were OK, the pups were OK, so everything else would be OK. 
    All the lights had gone off in my office and the rest of the house was dark, so my immediate thought was that we had lost power too. So I called the electricity provider to let them know, but then realized our standby generator had not kicked in. So I became concerned that it had gotten fried too, when all of the sudden Nora pointed out to me that the clocks on the microwave and regular oven were working. So it ended up being a couple of circuits had been taken out, but the majority of them were fine and we still had power going to the house. So I called the power company back and told them we actually had power.
    The next step was to do a more thorough damage assessment to make sure nothing like a fire or other issue needed immediate attention. It was still storming out, so I did not go outside, but it seemed as though everything else was OK. So I ran some extension cords to my office and tried to get things back up and running. It turns out that 2 of my main work computers were taken out and a laptop that was plugged in and running was OK and another laptop sitting in a travel bag was OK. So I got those up to speed and then concentrated on trying to get my work done for the morning. I was able to get some things out, but others were not able to be done. I am still working off of the backup machines, but do have one machine that has been purchased and just needs to be outfitted with all of the software that I use and another machine (my main machine) is in the process of being built.
    The good news is that the main machine that had all the critical data on it and was fried, its hard drive was not damaged. So I had a local computer company transfer all the data from that drive to an external drive and I have to pick that up tomorrow. 
    We also lost two TV's and all of the computer networking equipment. One TV has been replaced and we are going to go without the other for a while as it has been replaced by the one that was in my office (and did not get hit) and probably got used an average of once a week. The networking equipment has been replaced and is up and going. So I am slowly getting back up to full speed, it may be another week or two before everything is in the same shape it was before the lightning struck.
    Once the storms passed, I did go out to see if I could see where the lightning had struck and it did not take long for me to figure that out! On the one side of our driveway was a 6-8" deep trench (that was not there before the storm) that ran around 8 feet towards the house. There were also rocks from the driveway scattered all over the retaining wall by the porch. So it was pretty clear that the strike had hit the driveway and traveled towards the house. There was also mud splattered against the house as well as up underneath the roof overhang. So if proof was ever needed that lightning does not always strike the highest object, nor do you need to be directly struck by the bolt to be impacted. That was it! There are tons of tall trees as well as the house itself in the direct area that the ground was struck and the bolt traveled around 15 feet to get to the house and must have traveled even further to bring the surge into the electrical panel.
    Inside the panels, I removed one arc fault breaker and one ground fault breaker. Here is a shot of the ground lead for the arc fault breaker, showing how the surge had fried the 12 gauge wire. I has been a lot of work to determine what all was damaged and then report it to the insurance company. They were great in working with us to get reimbursed, but it has also been a lot of work to get the replacements, as most of that had to be picked up in Marquette. So I went there on Thursday. All in all, I'd say we were very lucky. The computers were a big loss, especially since it is my livelihood, but I was able to limp along with back ups. Most importantly, none of us were injured. I would prefer to not have to go through this again though! Oh, and all of the equipment that got fried was on a surge protected circuit. The main computer even on a back-up power supply that is surge protected. So I am not sure how much additional protection would have helped.
    I guess it was both good and bad that this happened while the office was being remodeled. The TV in the office was spared as it was unplugged and even out of the room. Same goes for my printer and a few other electronic devices. The bad part was that I was already stressing a bit about having my office all torn apart and was hoping to spend much of last week getting the remodel done. So no remodel work was done until this afternoon when I did a bit of electrical work. A bit more electrical work still to do and then I can start the process of putting the walls, ceiling and flooring in and bringing that room back up to full speed.
    I was planning to go to Haydays this year and decided that despite all the work that could have been done had I stayed home, I needed a little break and went after all. The weather probably could not have been any better. Mostly sunny skies and temps around 70. It had also rained a bit in the days leading up to the event, so there was no dust to worry about. The folks that put on the event have also invested money into making the area the event takes place even more suitable. All of the isles that folks walk on are now old asphalt, which does not get too dusty and makes for more even walking that the old farm field. Some of the exhibit spots have been made nice with the same material to walk on and they just seemed to be a pretty well oiled machine this year. Not that there have been problems since the first year they moved to this new location and had the major issues, but it just seemed like there were no hassles to deal with, which is impressive with such a large volume of people in such a large area of space. The crowds were good too. As busy or more than I have seen it in the 5 or so years I have gone. 
    I did not purchase anything (other than some food and drink), but it was nice to be able to take a look at all the new products available and get a feel for what I might want to get for this upcoming season. Plus, it was great to see so many folks getting ready for the season, especially after the poor season most areas had last year. 
    We drove down Friday like we always do, but ended up driving straight home from the event on Saturday, which I think I liked a lot better, rather than returning to the friends house I stay at when I come down and then having to wake up before dawn on Sunday to get back in time to salvage half of the day on Sunday and be able to get my work done.
    We got home around midnight and after sleeping in a bit, I did get that work done this morning and then Gracie, Nora, the pups and I took a walk in the woods. The trails my brother and Gracie have made are wonderful to walk through the woods on and we all had a blast trouncing through the woods on them.
    We have entered into the second mushroom season up here, spring being the first. With all the wet and mild weather we have been having, there is an abundance of them growing in the woods this autumn. I have been called a fun guy, but am not a fungi guy at all. I do not care for them to eat, so I have never taken the time to educate myself in the different types and which are edible. None the less, I did take a few pictures of some of the species we encountered this morning. These variety were probably the common and were also pretty cool, with their bright orange color and scalloped edges. We did not encounter many of these, but they were quite numerous in the area they were growing in. It's hard to gauge the size of this cluster from the picture, but they were probably around 18" square. Finally, these were pretty cool, as they were all over one side of a dead, standing tree. I do know what a morel looks like and did not spot any of them. Not sure if they are a spring only species.
    So that about gets you caught on on things. I hope to make some great progress on both the office and getting my work capabilities up to speed this week. Although I do not anticipate being done with either by next weekend. I am done producing the text forecasts for the warm season and will continue the graphics for a few more weeks. I hope to have my seasonal outlook done by early October.
    A few quick announcements...The Superior Snowmobile Club is holding their annual trail clean work session next weekend and there are posts with more info on it on the discussion board. Speaking of the discussion board, it looks like the issue many were having with posting pictures has been resolved, so if you were having problems like that, you might want to head over there and give it a try. Lastly the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club will be holding their trail work session October 21-22. There will be free lodging for all workers at the Trailside Lodge just north of Calumet and also at D's Basecamp in Toivola. Depending on the amount of participants, I may see about getting another hotel to see about donating some lodging. A free dinner will also be provided Saturday night for all the workers. We will be doing bridge work as well as work to widen the path for a re-route in the Mohawk area. So all interested in that should contact those two businesses and I will be putting a role call on the board to help us determine how many folks will be coming to help out. Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
September 5, 2016-
    Well, I have been sitting here trying to think of a cleaver way to start this entry, but have come up empty, so why not start it with a little fresh snow! Yep, that was the picture from one of the Togwotee Pass web cams this morning. A fresh coating in spots. I don't know about you, but it sure gets me excited for the upcoming winter!
    No snow here and none in the forecast for the next 10 days at least. In fact, after a very nice week of weather, we are into the warmth and humidity as I type. Temps are approaching 80 degrees and the dewpoint is at 70. Not the kind of weather we want to see or are very accustomed to up this way in September, but the cooler and less humid air is coming in a day or so. Not just for us, but for everybody. It looks like the weather will be quite good for Haydays. Maybe not so much Friday and Friday night, with rains seen, but Saturday and Sunday look to be dry, low humidity and temps in the 60's to low 70's.
    As mentioned, it was a pretty good week weather wise up here. No nasty humidity and temps were pretty comfortable as well. It did provide for some nice outdoor working conditions. I had 3 projects going on at once this week. One was to help my brother make his front porch level again and then support it correctly. The other was to work on some lighting for our kitchen area and the final was to start the remodel of my office.
    My brothers project was actually started around 10 days ago and went pretty well. The porch had originally been built on log posts sunk into the ground. Those sunk quite a bit and then somewhere down the road, someone tried to stabilize things by putting in some new support posts on top of concrete footings, but the footings were only 5 1/2 inches deep in the soil and did their own sinking. Plus, it looked like they had not done much leveling out during that operation, so by the time we go to it, the front of the porch was around 4" lower than the part that was attached to the house and the distance from the front of the porch to the front of the house was only 7 feet!
    So the first stage was to jack up the porch to get it level. Then some temporary supports were put in. We beefed up the floor joists and rim joists for the porch and then Jim dug new holes for footings. Some concrete filled sono tubes went in, then the new 6x6 support columns and the porch was let down onto the new support. All went well and he is very happy to have that done. It probably was not too far from falling down!
    Not a whole lot was done on project #2. It was started around 10 days ago as well and has been on hold while the other two projects get done. It is almost done, with only about an hour of work left.
    Quite a bit of work was done on project #3 this week. On Thursday afternoon, I took some of the things cluttering up the office out and then on Friday, everything came out of my office. That led to "Demo Day" for Friday evening and Saturday. First some shelving had to come out, then the desk tops and then it was time to shut down the power and tear into the drywall. Our family likes to watch a program called Fixer Upper, so was all amped up to help with the demolition. 
    All went well and we got things down to the studs in the walls we wanted to. The reason for the insulation in the one wall was because it used to be the outside wall of the cabin, but now is the wall that separates my office from the master bath. The un-insulated spot is were a window used to be. I am going to put insulation in there for sound control, as well as in the other walls. The back wall was left with drywall on it because it is going to get a brick veneer over it, while the other walls and ceiling get tongue and grove. 
    Yesterday, I removed the carpeting and got things cleaned up and then moved all of the critical components to my office back in. So this is how things look at the moment. I figure with everything against the back wall, I will be able to put the tongue and groove up up, then relocate the desk and computers away from the back wall, put the new window in and then the brick veneer. Speaking of tongue and groove, part of the work this week was to pre-treat and then stain 164 12 foot long pieces of tongue and groove. They are all done and sitting in the shop, waiting to be put up...hopefully this week. Once all the work on the walls and ceiling is done, then the new flooring will go in and I can start to make the office furniture!
    It was not all work this week, we were able to sneak in some fun and R/R. Thursday evening it was decided to have a little campfire in our yard to celebrate the end of summer. So Gracie and I got things ready, then waited for Nora to finish up with her evening with friends and then we got things going. We hung out until just about darkness had set in and then went in and to sleep. Little did we know that at that very time, the beginnings of a nice aurora display were underway. Here is a picture taken by a local that really stays on top of them and takes tons of great pictures that I get to share with you. The picture was taken while there was still a bit of daylight left on the western horizon. About 30 minutes things were really cranking and the sky was all dark. Needless to say I was both happy and sad to wake up on Friday and see the pics of the display the night before, but know that we all could have seen them if we only had checked the status of the aurora on an app I have.
    Friday evening was the first Friday in Calumet, so all the shops stayed open late and the Vertin Gallery even had a magician in it performing his act. Although he looked to be no older than maybe 16-17, he put on a great show and baffled the audience in how he did his tricks. 
    After missing out on the aurora the night before, it was decided that we would all head to the beach and see if we could get lucky and see them on Friday night. So we bundled up, some more than others, and headed down to the beach for another campfire. Initially, I had to chuckle at the Nanook of the North jacket Gracie had chosen to bring with her, but it proved to be a great idea, as there was a pretty stiff breeze on the beach and temps were dropping through the low 60's into the 50's, so it got quite chilly and she was the only one that was warm!
    We did get to see the northern lights, but they were not as vivid as the night before. At least while we viewed them. We turned in around 11 pm and I guess things got ramped up pretty good about 12:30, as my brother stayed up late and was able to see the main show for that night.
    So I guess that gets you caught up on things going on up here. This will be the final week for the text forecasts and will be highlighting the big Haydays event. Then the graphics will continue for the rest of the month. 
    Despite the warmth and humidity, things are starting to take on an autumn look, with the trees just starting to change and the bugs on the run. Most of the woods are still very green and here is proof of that. The story behind that pic is that Jim and Gracie were out in our woods and Gracie looked up and pointed out the cool patter the leaves made against the sky. Jim thought it was so cool that he took a picture of it. I have found if I sit and stare at it for a while, I feel very relaxed. Time for a nap!
Good night from the Keweenaw..

JD
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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-

 

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