Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam

August 31-
    Boy, I can't begin to imagine how difficult life is for the folks impacted by Katrina. We all take so many of the every day luxuries for granted.  Things like flipping on the light switch and having the light go on, turning the knob at the sink and getting hot and cold running water, flushing the toilet and having it flush, opening the refrigerator and taking out a cold drink, picking up the phone and being able to make a call, even sitting in front of the computer, tv or listening to the radio.  All of those simple everyday facets of life gone and gone for a very long time.  And all of those lost luxuries lost pale in comparison to the 1000's of folks that have lost all they owned and 100's, perhaps 1000's of folks that have lost loved ones.  It's been interesting to see the coverage on the TV.  On Monday as the storm was departing, some knucklehead reporter actually had the stupidity to claim that the storm had not been the disaster that had been predicted.  That persons statement may very well be the understatement of the decade.  What is scary is that they have yet to even hear or get into a few towns that were in the direct path of the storm, so all the damage that has been seen may pale in comparison to some areas yet to even be seen.  I said it yesterday on the radio and it is not being said in some of the major media outlets, but this will be the largest natural disaster the country has ever seen, but unfortunately probably not the worst it will ever see.
    The one shining moment that has been lost in all of this was the forecast for Katrina's track and strength.  While the storm may have tracked about 20 miles to the east of where the exact landfall was expected, up to 48 hours in advance the forecast went out that the LA/MS coastal region was going to be hit by a storm that would rival the worst to ever hit that area.  100's of thousands of persons were evacuated in advance of the storm and while we all may take weather forecasts for granted, that one saved 10's of thousands of lives easily.  A storm with less power killed 10,000 folks in the Galveston TX area back in 1900.  Why? Because they had no warning.  So even though it will never happen, I think the country needs to give the folks at the National Hurricane Center a standing ovation for their excellent forecast and the fact that they saved 10's of thousands of lives.
    Back closer to home, we are just plugging along through the final days of summer up here.  Meteorological summer ends today and up here the weather follows pretty close to that mark.  We can still have some summer like days in September and this holiday weekend look to be just that.  But night time temps have been dropping into the 40's and 50's and daytime temps for most of the past 2 weeks have been in the 60's and 70's.  There have been a few days with temps in the low 80's, but the bottom line is I have been a happy camper with the weather for the past several weeks.
    We have actually gotten started with building at the property.  On Monday the foundation contractors got started with things and were able to set the forms for the slab.  I was up there the whole time and helped a little.  I dug the trench for the footing on the right hand side.  Yesterday I had golf and it went into extra innings.  We are in the playoffs and ended up tying our opponents for the regular round.  That is actually a very hard thing to do given the way they distribute points for the match.  Anyway, we had to play a sudden death round to determine who would win the match and as luck would have it, I left the course before they had actually added up the points.  So when I got home, Al was calling me telling me to get back up to the course so that we could have the sudden death match and it was quite sudden as we went down after the first hole!  So I then left from the golf course and headed up to the property.  I did not have my camera, but the contractors did level the pad, compact it and put the insulation where the pad goes.  This evening we will finish up the insulation around the thickened edges, do the rebar and mesh work and then they will be done until it's time to pour.  I will then take over operations and put down the PEX tubing for the in floor heating.  Then next week I will get the PEX inspected and we can pour.  One round of block will go down after the slab dries and then I can start working with wood.  It is my hope to be putting the trusses up in about 2-3 weeks and then have the entire building done (including walls, roof, windows and doors) by early October.  I must say it was pretty exciting to be up there on Monday with generators humming, saws buzzing and hammers banging away.  There is going to be a whole lot more of that going on in the next 4 years.  So much to do!
    As mentioned, we have had a few 80 degree days up here in the past few weeks and last week on one of them the hounds and I did take to the beach.  Nora had to work so she could not join us.  It was cute to see Burt get so excited to go to the beach.  He really loves to swim and if the oil that he secretes to keep his skin and coat healthy while swimming lots did not stink so much, then we would go there lots more, but I do try and keep the secretion as low as possible, while still providing for lots of fun.
    On the way back from the beach we stopped by the site of the fire we had a few weeks ago.  You could still smell the fire, although there was no smoke or anything.  I took some photos of things out there.  Here is a shot of the general area where the fire started.  It's actually a very sandy area that does not support much vegetation.  There are some pine that grow along with some ferns, scrub brush and wild blueberry, but not much else.  Because of the sandy soil, things dry out very quickly and the area is more fire prone.  That is the second major fire in 6 years and there have been some smaller ones in that time frame as well.  The fire had no problem jumping the two lane road and here is a shot of what it did on the other side of the road.
    Things are still very dry up here.  We have not had any meaningful rain in over 2 weeks and that last rain was just 1/2".  Before that it has been about a month with just a 1/2" since then.  So in the past 8-9 weeks we have had around 1" of rain.  We have not cut the grass for the past 9 weeks and that surpasses my old record of 8 weeks made 3 years ago.  Surprisingly things are still pretty green in the woods.  The cooler temps have helped out a lot and this is the time of the year when we seem to get a heavy dew almost every morning, so that helps some.  It does not supply too much moisture to the plants, but it does keep things from drying out.  The dry weather has caused some trees to change color.  We always get a few "early turners", but it seems like this year there are at least twice as many that have turned early.  I have no idea what all this means with regards to the upcoming winter.  It seems like everyone thinks we are in for a doosy.  I know what I am hoping for, but we'll just have to wait and see.  I suppose the longer the dry and warm weather lasts into fall, the more I will start to believe this winter could be a big one for us.  For now all I can do is dream!
-JD -

This business directly sponsors johndee.com  

August 24-
    Mmmm...mmmm....mmmm!  It sure has been nice up here the past week or so.  Just about perfect.  If the entire summer were like this, I think summer might almost be my second favorite season.  There are places in the US that have weather most of the summer like like we have been having up here- highs in the 60's and 70's, low's in the 40's and 50's and lots of sunshine.  Plus they have nice autumns- crisp days most of the time mixed with some rain and even snow and then have really snowy winters with almost no thaws.  Plus they do not have too many bugs to worry about in the summer.  Where are these places you might ask?  Well, just about all areas above 7500 feet in the central and northern Rockies have climates like that.  There are a few elevated plateau areas in WY and MT that are more arid and do not have the big snows in the winter, but for the most part, the mid mountain climates of the Rockies would be as close to perfect to me as it gets.  Not that I do not like our climate up here and not that I am thinking of moving.  I could not live out west.  Not much water (lakes and such) and the mountains actually made me a little claustrophobic after a while and I do not get claustrophobic very easy.  I guess it is just that growing up in the Midwest I was always used to being able to see the horizon and being in the mountains for more than a week or two just started to get to me- always having to look up to see the sky and not being able to see it off on the horizon.
    But enough of that.  The weather up here has been perfect and I am loving it!  Hit 40 degrees this morning and 42 yesterday.  With all of this nice weather, Nora, the hounds and I have been able to take to the woods.  Sunday we took to the School Forest again and this time brought the camera along.  It really is some of the most beautiful country out there.  A little bit of everything; typical Keweenaw mixed hardwood forest; planted red pine; some swamps and even a few meadows.  Always lots of sign of animals out there, but other than the occasional deer and the wolf we stirred on a sunrise ski years ago, we do not actually see the animals leaving all the signs behind.  I think it is because we make a little too much noise.  Everyone but Burt that is.
    Anyway, my first shot is of the path we take after first starting out.  It runs through the hardwoods and to the left are some old red oaks that tower about 100 feet into the air.  They are about the tallest oak trees that I have ever seen.  You can see one of them up to the left of Burt in that last shot.  My grandma had one on her property that was huge and when it came down I think some tree service guys decided to count the rings and said it was over 200 years old.  I don't know how old the oaks along that path in the school forest are, but nothing grows too fast up here and oaks are a naturally slow growing tree, so they must be pretty old.  No limbs for about 30-35 feet, so the wood worker in me drools over the amount of clear wood that could come out of them if they were to ever come down or be harvested.  Actually the tree I really drool over is a 100 foot+ black cherry tree growing in the Estivant Pines up by Copper Harbor.  I could never chop it down, but the base of the trunk is about 3 1/2 feet in diameter and the trunk on that one is also branch free for the first 30-35 feet.  I could build all the furniture we would ever need for the log home with that one tree.
    If it's a little warmer and sunny day, then we branch off to our right and stay in the more shaded paths of the school forest and also stick close to the truck so that the hounds do not get too overheated.  However, temps on Sunday were having a hard time climbing out of the low 60's, so we went straight, which took us to where a planted stand of red pine once stood, but was harvested last summer.  The area had to be clear cut because the stand of pine had already been thinned a few times and if they had gone in and taken just a few trees, the others would not have been able to with stand the pressures put on by the higher exposure to the wind and would have come down on their own.  So all the trees were taken.  I have to admit that it was not a pretty sight last year after the cutting.  The foresters did a good job, but what I had come to know as a nice stand of red pine about 1/4 mile long by 400 feet wide was suddenly just a jumble of stumps, dirt and a few tips.  Some of the students in the Lake Linden-Hubbell school went out and replanted the plot last summer, but you could not really even see those seedlings and it just was pretty ugly to look at.  Well, it does not take mother nature too long to spruce things up and just one year later, that area now looks like a nice northwoods meadow.  In about 5-6 years it will start to look like a tree plantation again and in 30 years will be a forest again, but for now it looks really good again.  Credit really needs to go to the ones that did the harvesting, they left very little behind.
    With the more abundant sunshine into that area, some plants have really taken to growing there.  One of them being blackberries.  There were a few patches out there, but they were pretty small and really did not produce much.  With more sunshine, the patches that were out there are about 3-4 times the size and are very healthy producers, plus there are about 4-5 new patches out there.  We did not have a bucket with us, but that did not stop Nora and I from picking some and putting them in our mouths.  It always cracks me up to turn around while picking the berries and see the hounds doing the same.  They really like black berries and are quite good at picking them.  They know to not only pick the berries and not the vines or leaves, but also know to pick the ripe berries.  Of course Burt is a pretty smart one and will just hang out next to one of us and wait for a free handout.  So we all got a nice treat on our walk and went out there again this past Monday and again today.
    It really is starting to feel like autumn around here.  The next few days and maybe even early next week will feel more like late summer, but the cool and crisp mornings and the quick cool down after sunset really is putting that feel of autumn into the air.  Another sign that autumn is coming is the acorns are dropping and in some areas the ground is thick with them.  You know what they say about when you come along a spot where the ground is thick with acorns don't you?.... you are standing under an oak tree!  Honestly, I do not have a clue as to what our winter will be like.  It has been asked of me if the warmer and drier summer means a colder and snowier winter and the answer to that one is that there can be a slight connection, but not a strong one.  Plus others think the warm lake temp will lead to more lake effect snow, but that one is not true as the lake temp always cools to the mid to upper 30's by the last few weeks of December, no matter what lake temps were like in the summer and autumn.  So the verdict is still up for grabs, I'll tell you in April what kind of winter we had!  Although as ever, I am hoping that this one sets the new record for snowfall!
    Yesterday I had to golf, so we could not go too far but we did take to the woods.  We went up to the tracks and walked down them.  On the way back we came across a deer checking things out.  It was too far away to see if it was a buck or doe, but it did not seem to be too phased by us being there.  Credit needs to go out to Nora for spotting it.  She has a good eye for spotting them, that's for sure.
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this one.  Take care everyone and have a good rest of the week.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
August 20-
    It's nice to be back among the living.  Wednesday morning I came down with the flu and have been in and out of it since.  Wednesday was the worst, if I had not been running a 101 degree temperature, I would have thought about going to the hospital just to make sure my heart was not acting up again.  Just really achy and tired.  But thankfully the temperature indicated all I had was the good old flu.  Kind of weird to have the flu in the summer, one minute I am freezing and the next hotter then heck.  Plus because it was warm outside I felt like I could go out and be active, but that just led to me getting dizzy and falling down.  So I spent a lot of time in bed or in front of the computer during work and drinking fluids.  Feeling nearly 100% today, so I think all is well.
    With being sick since Wednesday I do not have much to talk about.  The weather has been quite nice for most of the last week.  Temps have generally been in the 70's and up until Friday the humidity was also nice and low.  The humidity is once again nice and low today and the forecast looks good, with temps to be comfortable for the next several days at least, maybe the rest of the month and possibly the rest of the year.  I would not be surprised to have a few warm days left, but time is really running out now.  Tomorrow is going to feel like autumn around here with temps struggling to climb out of the 50's and even a chance for some lake effect precip.  Rain not snow, but still lake effect.
    So we are certainly on the threshold of autumn up here.  I have received two snowmobile magazines and the traffic to the site seems to be picking up, that is if the amount of activity on the discussion boards and e mails to me are good indicators.  Today I put my snowmobile back together.  If you can remember way back to April and my last ride, she broke on me and it ended up being a snapped crankshaft.  I was able to get it rebuilt and today felt like a good day to finally put things back together, so I spend the second half of the afternoon putting things back together and then the early evening giving the sled a good wash.  I did clean out the engine compartment earlier this summer while the engine was out and even cleaned up the engine itself.  So other than the battle scars on the sled itself it looks like brand new.  I still need to put the carbs on.  I took them off to rebuild the engine and then decided to put them in a plastic bag and then down into the basement.  Figured that would help to keep the gas from going sour in them.  Next season I may do the same, only put them in the chest freezer to really slow down the oxidation of the gas.
    So I don't know if the sled will even run yet, but in about a month the temps will be cool enough up here that I will bring the carbs up, attach them, fill the fluids and give the starter chord a few tugs and see what happens.  I am just glad to have the engine back together and it was really nice to be able to do it in shorts and a t-shirt rather than a snowmobile suit, knit hat and frozen fingers!  I think that I will like very much having a nice warm work shop once all is done at the property.
    Speaking of the property, another step was taken this week.  We had the final grading work done for the barn, or made the largest sand boxes in the Keweenaw.  The building spot for the barn is now perfectly flat and has the perfect material to put a floating slab foundation on.  All that is left is to get building.  The applications for permits will be in Monday's mail and hopefully in a few weeks a foundation will be in and I can get busy with the rest of the structure and get things buttoned up before winter comes as planned.
    Well, unfortunately I really do not have much more to say.  Being sick the past few days has limited my ability to gather writing material as well as pictures to share.  So rather than try and force something out, I will just sign off for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
August 14-
    Ahhhhh, this is more like it!  Actually, this is what we should be having if you believe in averages.  Although it seems since I have lived here, the summer weather has been anything but average.  Seems we were always at the extremes, with highs in the upper 80's to upper 60's, but never in the upper 70's.  Well, since last Tuesday that is exactly where we have been and I'm loving it.  The good news is that we look to keep running this trend for the next week or so and that takes us another week closer to the no heat zone.  Sure we might have some low 80's pop at us in the next few days, in fact tomorrow and Wednesday may see highs in the low 80's, but the dewpoints are indicated to remain in the 50's, so that should make it a whole lot more tolerable.
    We have not been to the beach since last Monday's adventure with the fire and temps in the upper 90's.  The hounds and I have been taking to the woods quite a bit.  It is a little sad as they are getting older and we cannot go as far.  Years ago we could walk as far as we wanted and I was usually the one to tire out, but now they start to limp after about a mile, so I usually do not go much further than a half mile if we have to return the way we went out.  They don't complain and could probably limp along for miles, but I hate to see them do it.  They are taking stuff for their arthritis, but they have been plagued with it since they were very young, so there is not a whole lot more I can do for them at this stage of their lives.  You would think that they would be worse in the winter and cold, but for some strange reason they actually do better when it is cold out.  Another reason to love the winter.
    On Friday I had to head up to the courthouse in Eagle River to take care of some things with the permits and on the way home, the hounds and I went up to the top of the Phoenix Farm Road.  Temps were in the 70's, the humidity was low and there was a good breeze, so it was a good day for that type of walk.  We had the road to ourselves and enjoyed a nice quiet walk in the woods up in Keweenaw County on a beautiful Friday afternoon.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been if Nora was with us.
    Yesterday we took to the north end again and walked the path that is called Gratiot River North.  A conservancy bought the land and as kept it open to the public for non motorized use.  You could argue about the non motorized thing, but at least it is land that is still able to be used by the public and has not been bought up by an individual, gated and put off limits to public use as has happened in other areas up here.  I'm not going to get into a big debate about that issue, just going to say that I am glad we have places to go and enjoy up here.  I did not take any pictures from yesterday's adventure, but did take a fe from today's.
    We stuck closer to home today, going over to the School Forest.  Nora commented on the fact that this was the first time since last winter that she had been to the school forest and I believe that is true for the hounds and I as well.  It is not the best place in the spring as it is quite wet.  That spring wetness leads to a pretty major bug issue in the summer, so we pretty much make that an autumn and winter hang out.  I figured that since we have had only 1" of rain in the past 6 1/2 weeks that the bug issue may not be too much of a problem and guessed right.  There were still a few that bothered us, but we were not swarmed as would have been the issue if our rainfall had been closer to average recently.  It was nice to be out there today and I think the hounds both recognized where we were going when we took the turn to head up there.  It is amazing how they can tell where we are when driving around in the blazer.  A lot of shady lanes to walk around there and that is what we stuck to as much as possible.  Today's temps were not hot at all, with a high in the low 70's and dewpoints in the low 50's, but the sun is still pretty strong and walking in it can overheat the hounds a little.  As we were leaving Nora spotted a sign that summer is entering into the home stretch- the blackberries are ripening.
    There are a few other signs that summer is entering into it's home stretch.  The apples are ripening, some trees are starting to turn and I even saw a hunting blind being prepared.  Nora and I took the pool down this weekend.  We have been having temps drop into the 40's and low 50's at night and while that is perfect sleeping weather, it sure does cool down the pool water!  So rather than try and keep it open to catch the last few swimming days of the summer, we just decided to call it a season.  The good news is that we got to use the water in it to water the lawn.  It is going to take a lot to green up my lawn, but I figured I would help the process get going.  The water was already paid for!  I also took care of a few tasks that I wanted to get out of the way before winter came.  I figured that I better get them done now because this autumn I will not have as much free time as I might normally have with getting the barn built.
    I guess that catches you up on what is going on up here.  We are entering the final stretch of summer.  It is not over just yet, but the fat lady is warming up.  Actually, I am already loving this weather and am a happy boy!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
August 10-
    For those of you who have not heard yet, the big news the past day or two is that we had another wildfire up here.  This one a fairly big one.  I thought something must have had to been up when I started hearing sirens going fairly regularly around 1-2 pm.  When I lived in Chicago just before moving up here I lived on south State Street which happens to be one of the designated emergency routes for fire and ambulance vehicles and one or the other would go by just about every 1-2 hours in that busy city.  Up here we will hear sirens once a month, if that.  Plus the fact that it was not just one department responding, but multiple ones got me to thinking that something was a going on.
    It was a hot day, in fact the hottest of the summer so far, with the airport reporting a new record of 95 and my sheltered thermometer hitting 98 degrees.  The humidity was up there, but not way high at about 62.  So with it being that hot I had already planned on going to the beach with the hounds and decided upon one that would be good with a southwesterly breeze as that is the way the winds were blowing.  Before heading out to the beach, I drove to the post office to pick up our mail and passed Al's shop on the way.  His shop was closed, so I figured he was out responding to the fire.  On our way out to the fire, we passed to the north of it and could smell the smoke, but did not actually see any.
    We got to the beach and it did not take the hounds long at all to find the water.  Me too, although I really wished I had worn my suit as the water was very warm and all I did with my shorts on was go up to my knees.  Temps at the beach were a perfect 80 degrees due to the winds off the lake and with the mainly clear skies it was one of those perfect day's at the beach.  I was feeling guilty that Nora could not join us because of work, but I tried not to let it show so the dogs would not start feeling guilty too!  We stayed at the beach for about an hour and we are getting to the magical time of the year when there are just about no flying insects to bother us.  I think I had to swat at about 2 horseflies the whole time we were there and managed to take one out.
    It was starting to get a little later in the afternoon and this particular beach is not exactly close to Lake Linden, so the hounds and I piled into the truck and started home.  Since I had my camera with I figured we would swing by the area that the fire was going and see if I could snap a few pictures.  We got to Big Traverse and I headed down the road towards Rice Lake, but saw that they had the road blocked off, so I turned around and headed south in an attempt to circumvent the fire and the blocked roads.  As we got on the southern end of the Big Traverse Bay Road or what locals commonly refer to as "the Mink Farm Road", the smoke came into view over the tree tops to the west, so I pulled over to snap a picture.  It was not the best of picture setups, but I worried that it might be as good as it would get, so I snapped a shot.  A little further down the road we came to an area where the view was a little less obstructed and again fearing that my photo opportunities might be limited, I snapped another mediocre shot.
    We continued south and then over to the Pt Louie Road and I was really hoping that the road back up the east side of Rice Lake was still open, or we were looking at a long drive all the way up to Gay just to get around the fire and on to Lake Linden.  Thankfully the road was still open along the east side of Rice lake and as we drove up it we were also driving almost directly into the fire.  I figured it started where in the vicinity of where several other fires have started near a blueberry farm that is going in.  And if it had in fact started there, then with a SW wind we would never actually encounter the fire, but would be able to get within about 1/4 mile of it.
    I guessed right, the fire had started near the blueberry farm, but not on it and the wind was taking the flames and smoke to the NE towards the Big Traverse area.  We were able to get within about 1/4 mile of the fire and I was able to snap a good shot of it.  The building you see in the foreground is the blueberry farmers and is actually about the exact spot where another big fire happened back in June of 2000 I think.  That one started when a burn pile the farmer was burning got away from him.  This one did not start on his property and I seriously doubt he had anything to do with it.
    The previous shot was pretty good, but I wanted better, so risking life and limb, the hounds and I pressed on into the jaws of the raging inferno and snapped a shot before their fur and my clothes exploded in flames.  Er maybe I just stayed in the exact same spot as the previous photo and just used the zoom of my camera go get a tighter shot.  There was not much else left to do but watch the fire for a little bit, so we did that and then decided to head back home.  On the way home we passed by Rice Lake and I snapped a shot of the smoke billowing up in front of the north end of the lake.  I think that was about at the fires peak intensity.  We got home safe and sound and must have passed a dozen or more responders heading out to the fire, including individual volunteer firefighters in their own vehicles, equipment from some of the local departments in the Keweenaw and some equipment from the DNR.  I guess there was something like 14 departments that responded as well as 10 units from the DNR.  They did have some air tankers on standby up in Canada in case things really got hairy, but I think they were able to start taking control of the fire not long after sunset.  You could actually see the smoke from my driveway and I took this picture of it.
    My heart and gratitude really goes out to those volunteer firefighters as well as the police and DNR for doing what they did.  I can't even begin to imagine how hot it must have been for them to battle the flames in near 100 degree heat (without the flames) and a blazing sun to boot.  I talked to one friend who was one of the first to respond and said that from about 2 pm to 2 am, he figures he must have drank close to 8-10 gallons of water!  Several of the firefighters I talked to also talked about the incredible support they got from the general public.  They said they were just inundated by folks that drove out with coolers full of gatorade and water as well as items to eat.  It's stuff like that which makes me beam with pride to be part of this community.  The way folks just drop what they are doing and look for ways to help is really something.  Nora and I drove out at about 7 pm because I had studied the forecast models extra hard and had produced as accurate a wind forecast as I could and thought it might be of some assistance.  Not sure if they used it, but I did get the message to whoever was in charge.  Had I known we could have gotten some supplies to take to help the crews out there I think we would have cleaned out De Mars Market and needed to pile it all into Ol' Blue!
    All in all about 390 acres burned, making it the second largest wildfire in MI this season so far.  No structures were lost and the only injuries were two firefighters that were treated to heat exhaustion.  There are some more interesting photos of the fire out there.  One of my neighbors is an aerial photographer in his spare (Skypixs) time and was able to get some good shots.  You can view them here on Pasty.com's site.
    So that has been the excitement up here recently.  I am a little giddy right now.  Not about the fire, but about the weather.  After Monday's record breaking heat, yesterday was cool and we even had a bit of rain.  Not much, less than .20", but it's a start!  Today has also been fairly comfortable and the humidity has dropped as well.  Looks like we are in for at least another week of comfortable temps and humidity levels- heck maybe even jacket weather this weekend during the early mornings and late evenings.  We sure need more rain and it looks like a little of that may come later tomorrow and Friday.  I realize we may still have some heat to reckon with in the next 3-4 weeks, but three weeks from today is the last day of August and time is just about up by then.  It's just about time to take down the pool and in the not too distant future I will be able to put a fork in this hot summer!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
August 7-
    Welcome to August everyone.  I don't know about you, but so far August sure seems a lot like July to me.  The first three days were hot and humid, the next two a bit cooler and less humid, then back into the heat.  Although I can say that yesterday and today's heat has not been accompanied by humidity.  Yesterday dewpoints were in the upper 40's to low 50's and for most of the day today the dewpoints have been in the 50's.  Although I think we did just climb above 60 in the last hour or so.  The good news for me and the rest of the northern Midwest is it looks like one more day of heat and humidity, then things get tempered a bit by Tue and the cooling trend looks to continue through the rest of the week and weekend and it may even be darn near jacket weather by the end of the week or weekend.  Looks like we could get some rain too.  We really need that.  I believe we may just be one of the driest, if not the driest areas in the whole Midwest since July 4th.  I do know that we have only seen about 1/2 an inch in the past 5 weeks and I don't believe that there have been any areas drier than that.
    I'd have to look back, but it seems to me that in every year since I have lived up here we have gone through an extended period (more than 3 weeks) of dry weather.  Even last year when it was not hot, we still had a period of dry weather.  Of course the dry periods have not all come at the same time of the summer, but seems that anywhere from late May through August has some extended period of dry weather that occurs.  Amazing that I even have a lawn left.  The first year I watered the lawn, but after getting my water bill, figured that was enough of that!
    The dry weather has caused some of the trees to begin to change color already.  Usually there are a few early turners up here by the time we get to the end of August.  The less healthy trees seem to change color and drop their leaves a month or so ahead of the rest, but this summer there are already some going.  I think the same thing happened back in 1995 when I visited in early to mid August.  I remember seeing some trees that had changed color already.  Of course back then I just thought that was the norm for the Northwoods!
    Been heading out to the beaches a lot again.  On Wednesday temps were in the upper 80's and low 90's (depending on where you were) and dewpoints in the low 70's, so it was more like Houston that the Keweenaw.  So the hounds and I headed down to the big lake.  Not much of a breeze going on that day, but it was still a bit cooler right along the shoreline.  With the high humidity and almost no wind, the lake was like glass and there was a bit of fog out on the lake.  Conditions like that make it difficult to make out where the sky ends and the lake begins.  That did not seem to bother Burt too much, he fetched his stick just the same.
    Thursday and Friday were cooler and we were able to take to the woods for our walk.  No more brush fires spotted, but the woods really are a tinderbox right now.  Still lots of green bushes and trees, but the ground just cracks under your feet when you walk in the woods.  I believe there were a few other brush fires up here in the past week or so though and I would not be surprised if we don't have a few more before we get some rain. It really will not take much at all, a careless toss of a cigarette of even some lightning could get a good blaze going.
    We did a bit more work up at the property the past few days, taking advantage of the cooler temps in the evening.  Nora and I moved a bunch of stumps into a hole on the property on Friday and then yesterday evening we moved the burn pile and some of the logs we had stacked to make room for the barn.  There were a few stumps that were a bit too large for Nora and I to pick up and toss in the back of the truck, so my neighbor was kind enough to help us out with his logging truck.  Yesterday morning I met him out there and he had already piled the stumps onto his logging truck and so I pulled the truck along side and he went to work loading them up.  I thought it would take a few trips to get all the stumps taken care of, but he just kept on loading the truck up and by golly Ol' Blue was able to handle them all- just barely!  So all the stumps are gone, which means that all the clearing work has officially been completed for the barn and the cabin.  We will still need to clear about a dozen trees for the log home and have to pull two small trees for the power to come in from the road.
    We are actually dangerously close to actually building something out there.  I plan to submit the building permit applications this week and I think we will have the final bit of grading work done this week.  As soon as the permits come in, we should be able to get the foundation down in a few weeks.  I plan to order up the posts and purlins for the barn from a local sawmill and once the foundation is in and is setting up, I will order the trusses and with a little luck we should have the barn up before the snow flies.  I actually plan to use locally sawn wood for the siding on the barn and cabin and am not worried about putting that up when it is a little chillier out.  My main concern is to get the roof on before the snow starts sticking.
    I still can't believe that in a few months we will have a barn standing out there and in a year from now we should have a cabin shelled in and ready for the interior work.  Not sure just when we will be moving up, but so far things have moved along pretty smoothly.  I am prepared for the bumps along the road and am actually pretty surprised at how well things have gone up to this point.  It's funny, there are still some folks up here that think I am nuts for taking this all on (building three structures in 4 years), but I am really looking forward to it.  Other than having to work outside in the hot weather, I think I I could very easily be a contractor.  I just love to build things and love the planning that is involved.  We'll see how I feel about it in 4 years!
    Not much else going on up here at the moment, at least in my life.  I am just anxiously awaiting the true cooler weather to arrive.  I am looking forward to having to wear a jacket on the walks and climb under the sheets and blanket to get warm at night.  Even things like having a nice hot bowl of soup with lunch is something I am looking forward to.  I suppose I only have about a month or so to wait and while I am doing that I may as well make the most of what I have now!  Hope you all can do the same!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -