Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam

June 26-
    Boy how time can fly!  For some reason I thought that I had done a journal late last week, but when I checked this morning I was surprised to see that it has been almost a week. I had planned to get some guest shots posted today, but figure I had better write a journal before it becomes another week. The past several days have been very busy, but we do have lots to show for our labor. On Wednesday I went up and was able to get the mud sills down and then Thursday and Friday I got about half of the framing members cut to length. Friday was also the relay for life and so we took the evening off to partake in that event. Even though we could have gotten a lot of work done in the cool evening air and with daylight lasting until about 10 pm, I am very glad that we went to the relay and am seriously considering getting a team together for next years relay. I think it would be fun to get a bunch of folks together and hang out up there all night. There are tons of teams that do it and Nora was in one of them a few years back. So we'll see what the end of next June has in store, but hopefully things will be slow enough to get a team up and going.
    Saturday we got an early start on things by heading up to the property at about 9 am. The plan was to spend all day up there and get as much framing done as possible. I really did not have any set goals of things to get accomplished by the end of the day- only to work hard and get as much done as possible. The weather was just about perfect, but the sun is still about as strong as it gets all year and in the afternoon you sure could feel it. Even with temps in the low 70's and pretty low humidities, both Nora and I were sweating it up pretty good. Burt had the right idea and just relaxed and kept cool by laying on the cool shop floor. He sure is smart and I am glad that he was able to relax up there. Usually when we go up there he is anxious to do something. When he realized that we were up there for the long haul to work all day, he just sat and relaxed both Saturday and Sunday.
    A little bit of shade went a long way on Saturday. The cabins site is shaded 100% until about 11 am and then by about noon is in the full sun. Here is a shot taken about 11:45 as the last of the shade was exiting the site and 2/3rds of the one wall was up. We finished that one wall and then took a break for lunch and got started on the second wall. Since it was just Nora and I up there, I decided to build the walls in 10-12 foot sections so that we could lift them into place without killing ourselves. It may have been a little more work in the long run, but did save us a trip to the chiropractor. As we started the second wall, it became pretty apparent that we would be able to finish that by the end of the day. Although at times it would have been nice to just be able to go jump in the lake and cool off. I was fortunate enough to have pants that I could actually zip off the bottoms of and turn them into shorts, which helped me out a ton. I also was really having fun building. It is something I love to do and so I did not have too many problems keeping my head in the game.
    About 5:30 we were bracing the last section of wall and did a little bit of clean up, cut most of the framing members for Sunday's work and took one last look at our day's work before heading home to shower up and collapse. Sunday we also got an early start. I have about 4 hours of meteorology work that needs to be done every Sunday, so I got an especially early start on the day and also planned to get home a little earlier than we did on Saturday to finish up the work  Anyway, we were able to get the back wall completely done before the sun even hit that section and also got half of the front wall done. Nora then ran to get us some lunch and I continued working and got some of the other half of the front wall done. By about 3 pm we had the front wall done and that was enough for both of us. So we now have all 4 outside walls just about done. I actually have to fix the header for the side door and we need to put the top plates on all the walls, but that will not take too long. We also need to make the inside walls, one of which will be a load bearing wall for the loft. Then we can build the loft, put the rest of the rim joists in and then get on to what I am considering the largest hurdle of the entire project- the roof. While building the shop, I learned that I am not too fond of roofing work. It's not the actual work I do not care for, but the fact that I am working 8 feet or more above the ground. I am not afraid of heights either, but the combination of being off the ground and working just seem to bother me.  We'll see how things go, but I may get in touch with someone to give us a hand in some of the roofing work. I know that once the roof is done we still have a bunch of work to do, but I will really consider the up hill work to be done and most everything else a bit of a coast down hill.
    I mentioned the relay for life was Friday and now the region is gearing up for the big 4th of July holiday period. Lake Linden is getting all spruced up and the campground is filling up too.  Nora has some family arriving later this week to spend around 10 days up here so that is one reason why I would like to get as much done on the cabin now as possible, although I am very pleased with this weekend's progress.
    The berries are starting to come into season. We still have a few weeks before the thimbleberries are ready, but there are a bunch of them at the property. Our strawberries have been ripening and we have been picking enough to put on cereal every day. It looks like our strawberry crop will be a little shorter than last years, but that is OK as we still have some in the freezer from last year! Raspberries will be coming on line in a few weeks and then the blueberries and blackberries and then summer is over.  Seems hard to believe that June will be coming to an end after Friday, but I figured this summer would fly by and so far that seem to be true. Gotta run to the lumber yard and hardware store, so that will cover it for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -

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June 20-
    Here is your latest construction project update!  Seems like that is occupying just about all of my time and thus is about all I have to talk about. Saturday the concrete truck arrived and we were ready for it. Matt, Dave and I all had on our boots and were waiting with rakes in hand. The boom on the truck could not reach all the way to the back corner, so we had to rake the concrete the last 8 feet or so into that corner. It was not too bad, but I was huffing and puffing at the end. I was just glad that we did not need to wheel barrel it over and did not have to rake much more than about an 8 x 10 foot section. The truck driver was very good at putting the concrete where it needed to be and very little raking had to be done after that. After about 20 minutes the truck was unloading it's last few globs of concrete and Dave was already busy leveling it off with the vibra-screed. While we waited for the second load to arrive, Matt started working on the edges, while Dave used the bull float to start bringing out the finish on the concrete. About an hour later the last of the 13.75 yards of concrete was dumped, leveled and some of the finish work started on it. Here are Matt working the fresno and Dave doing some edging. We were able to take a quick break for lunch and then Dave put the final touches on the finish work and by about 1 or 1:30 we were all able to sit back and admire the fruits of all our hard work.
    The weather ended up cooperating with us. It was warm and humid in the morning that turned to hot and humid by midday, but the real nasty heat and humidity (90 degrees, dewpoints in the 70's) came once all the heavy work was done. Sitting in the screen tent and relaxing once we were all done was a bit like sitting in a sauna though. The slab also was in the shade until about noon and then the sun started beating down on it so before we left, it gave it a good soaking with water to cool it down a bit and slow the curing process a bit. I was planning to head back up there in the early evening, but as luck would have it, mother nature cooperated again by bringing clouds and rain. It did come down pretty good, but the concrete had set up enough that the rains did no damage to it, but did help to cool it down and slow the cure.
    Sunday morning Nora, Burt and I went up and pulled the forms off, put the insulation around the outside edge of the slab and then back filled. Yesterday we went up and moved the stringlines to reflect the outside edge of the walls, put down the sill seal and put the mud sills down. I was hoping to be able to bolt them down to the slab, but a test hole revealed that the concrete was still a little green and was not ready to take a hold of a bolt. So we packed up and came home and will give it another day and then head up to screw in the mud sills and get going on framing up the walls. I had thought about imbedding the bolts for the sills in the concrete while it was still wet, but thought it would just be easier to get the sills in place then secure them down, rather than try and drill the exact right place in the sill to fit the bolt through and have the sill be in the right place.
    I am not really sure how long it will take us to frame up the walls. I know a team of 3 pros could probably do it in a day, maybe even less. However, this will be my first time framing up a whole house (I have framed some walls in the past) and I want to take my time and do it right. Plus we will be taking it in several hour increments rather than being able to spend a whole day up there. We may be able to spend much of Saturday and Sunday up there, but the rest of this week will be in 3-4 hour spells.  So it's possible that if everything goes just perfect and we get the hang of things then the walls could all be framed and set by the end of this weekend or maybe early next week, but I will not sweat it out if we are further behind than that.
    The weather up here has been just wonderful, just the way I would order it up for the most part. As mentioned, Saturday was hot and humid, but the showers and storms in the afternoon did cool it down by about 20 degrees and even though Sunday made it into the low 80's, the humidity dropped for Sunday and there was also a decent breeze, so it was comfortable. Yesterday was in the 60's with low humidity and today the humidity is low and temps were in the 70's. It looks like the next week to maybe even ten days will see temps topping out in the 60's and 70's with fairly low humidities. Just about perfect to do construction in and I really hope that this summer continues it's trend. The way I figure it the forecast looks to get us through the rest of June without any nasty heat and humidity and that is basically 1/3rd of the way through our main time period for heat and humidity, so that means we are 1/3rd of the way home. Plus in another day or so, the amount of daylight will also start to decrease, so that is another milestone to pass on our way back to the cold season. Of course if all our summers were like it has been so far this summer, then I would not complain one bit and would actually look forward to them.
    Sunday afternoon after we did some work at the property, we took Burt to the Bootjack boat launch for a swim. Ol' Burt has really responded well to the medicine for his arthritis and if you cannot tell by this picture that he is feeling much better, than perhaps this one will illustrate to you how well he is getting around. It really warms my hear to see him getting around so well. He still gets sore and we do not over do it with him, but to see him run around and swim is just a great thing. Those are about his two favorite things (other than eating) and had he not been able to do those, then it would have been pretty depressing for him. I suppose that day may eventually come, but for now it's happy days and a time for rolling in the grass.
    Sunday afternoon was a perfect time to be out by the lake. It was warm, but not hot out and there was a nice breeze out of the west. That is one reason why we chose the Bootjack boat launch as a westerly breeze brings a wind off the lake. Plus it is not too far away and usually pretty quiet. Those nasty biting flies are out right now so I do not even want to risk going to the beaches of the big lake where they congregate. I heard some horror stories with those flies from folks out on the lake fishing this past weekend. The nice thing is in about a week or less, they will have run their life cycle and will be no further problems.  The winds made for some good sailing and a little regatta was actually going on when we arrived at the lake. It was just a very relaxing time out there, watching Burt have all his fun swimming and the regatta plying the waters of Portage Lake. Here is one last shot of some of the boats on a broad reach with spinnakers out.
    Well, I think that about covers it for this one. We sure have some busy times ahead. Lots of building to do. The Relay for Life is this Friday-Saturday and some of Nora's family are coming up late next week to spend the week of the 4th up here camping. So lots to do and I will sneak in updates when I can!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
June 16-
    Gonna sneak one under the wire right now as I believe things will be getting pretty busy in the next few days and before I know it I will be over a week since last updating. Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes. I have never had a problem with turning another year older, pretty much seeing it more as another day older. 40 was a milestone, but I don't feel any different. About the only thing that might change is that I get to now wear things like black socks and sandals.  I am going to have to go out and get both before I can do that, but at least I have the right to now. Nora spoiled me with some great gifts and a really neat cake. It tasted fantastic and I finished up the last piece at lunch today. I love the taste of orange and chocolate, so the cake was chocolate with an orange butter cream filling. Mmm...mmm...mmm. Hope we can make that a tradition!
    We passed the inspection for the in floor heat, so we are all set to pour. The concrete trucks arrive tomorrow starting at 8 am and I am more than ready to get on to the framing. My main concern is for the weather. We have the chance for some showers and storms during the pour, but as long as it is not dumping rain I think we will be ok. Clouds would actually be a nice think to keep the concrete from curing too fast, although we do have some water out there in case we need to wet it down.
    The week has been almost a week off from working as we had the inspection on Tuesday and have to wait until tomorrow to pour when Dave and Matt can help me out. Both have done concrete work and also have some of the tools to make the job easier. It is very nice to have friends that are both knowledgeable and willing to help me with things. About the only thing we did this week was to mark out the top of the slab on the plumbing to aid in getting that the right height and I installed a chase to run the water service in. I was not sure how the water company wanted me to do it and the guy I needed to talk to was out of the office until Monday. So I was able to talk to him and get the scoop and then installed the chase. So we are now fully ready to pour.
    With the bit of a break in the work this week, we took advantage of the spare time and got a little fishing in. Last May I hooked up with a fishing guide out of Lac La Belle and we caught some nice fish on Lake Medora. Nora was a little jealous that I got to go and she didn't, so I promised that the next time she could come. Captain Larry set me an e mail a week or so ago saying "Let's Go Fishing" so I figured this week would be a great time to sneak in some fishing. We met up with Larry at the Lac La Belle Lodge and got out on Lac La Belle. This was actually the first time I have been out on that lake while it was water. Been on it many times while it was frozen. Anyway, it was great to be out on the water and is always a bit of a release to me. We sure live in a beautiful spot and are so lucky to be able to just jump in a boat and do some fishing with things like Mt. Bohemia and Mt. Houghton as backdrops.
    Whenever I go fishing, my goal is to have a good time and relax. Going with a guide only heightens that by the fact that he is the one that has to worry about the boat and other equipment working as well as finding the fishing spots that are working. All Nora and I had to do was to sit back, let Larry rig up our gear and then take the fish off that we caught. We did pretty good with each of us catching several Walleye and some perch. Larry caught a nice sized smally and Nora rounded out the species caught with a rock bass. Several were "keepers", but we did not keep any this time around. I think Nora was hoping to catch the "big one", but that did not happen this time out. What did happen was a brief escape from reality (not that our reality needed to be escaped from) and a very relaxing evening in the Northwoods. Larry invited us to get out again and I know both Nora and I would love to wet a few lines before next winter sets in.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
June 12-
    It looks like it was a good thing that I wrote when I did!  Actually I probably could have wrote something last Tuesday as well as the golf league was thunderstormed out. Not rained out. We have played in the rain and temps in the 40's before, but once lightning starts flashing, then things are called off. I suppose it may have been a little too wet to let carts out as well as the league members all pretty much ride in carts (Al and I included) so sometimes they will cancel things because no one wants to walk!  I actually prefer walking most of the time, but ride to keep Al company!
    Anyway, the underground plumbing was approved and Wednesday Nora and I got up there to start doing the rest of the prep work for the concrete Wednesday evening. Thursday we had to take Burt to the vet. He had taken a spill swimming on Memorial Day and was just not getting over a limp. We actually had scheduled him a trip to the vet the Thursday after Memorial Day, but for some reason he was fine that day so we canceled, only to have him start limping the next day. It turns out that he has just been going through a flare up with his arthritis. We have him on some medicine that is working very good and even took a walk yesterday and our morning short walk today. So Thursday we did not get to do much work, but I spent all of the afternoon up there Friday and Nora joined me Friday evening and by Saturday morning we had everything done. The insulation down, the rebar and wire mesh down and all the pex laid and manifolds done. Put 50 psi of air in the system and on Sunday it was still there, so looks like we will be good to go with the concrete this Saturday. The weather was just perfect to be doing all of that work. Temps in the 60's, dewpoints in the 30's and sunshine. I think I could actually look forward to summer if we had weather like that all summer long! So far it has been a nice cool summer (with the exception of Memorial Day weekend) and I hope that is the way this summer goes. It does look like some warmer and more humid air will be in here by the end of the week and weekend, but nothing too nasty. A few summers ago I know we had a nice cool one with just a few brief rounds of heat and humidity, so I will keep my fingers crossed. It sure would be nice to be able to do all the rest of the construction in nice comfortable weather.
    We still had some wood to cut up from when they did the clearing for the cabin and septic, so yesterday Burt, Nora and I headed up there to finish off that. I started in on one big butt end of a log when I realized it would make a nice little table for our screen tent we have out there, so I just lopped off the one end to make it stand even and rolled it into the screen tent. Now we have a place to set our plates and cups when we eat dinner out there. On evenings when Nora comes to join me and help me do work, she brings dinner and we eat it up there before getting on with the evenings work. It's fun and with the weather so nice lately, it also very enjoyable. It's really strange to think that a week from now we will be starting the framing of the walls. The other day I did a rough schedule for building the different elements of the cabin and although I know that nothing ever goes as planned when doing construction I came up with a near done date of around early October. I was happy to see that as I was hoping to be done by early to mid November. I felt as though I was pretty liberal with my time allotment for the differing stages. For instance; I gave us 3 weeks to frame up the walls and loft area and I know a team of 3 pros could do it in one day and I gave us 2 1/2 weeks for the roof and it did not even take us that long to do the shops roof. So hopefully the time line is not too far off, although there really is no reason why we have to be in there by any certain date. I just was hoping to be moved up before the first real snows start to fly and barring any disaster, we have spent our last winter here in Lake Linden.
    This week will actually be a fairly quiet week as far as construction goes. The inspector is coming by either tomorrow or Wednesday to inspect the in-floor heating and all I plan to do is to go through the system and maybe add some  more ties to keep the tubing down, but other than that I guess this will be the week or rest before we put things into high gear starting Saturday. What is nice is that Nora working at the school actually gets some weeks off in the summer and is taking them one week on and one week off, so on her weeks she has off she can head up there with me early and we can get lots of work done. With it staying late so long, I could theoretically get in about 8 hours of work from around 2 until 10 pm, but figure I will flame out around 8 most days and may not start until 2:30 or 3, but that is still 5 hours of work. Already I am seeing the wonders of having the shop right there too. No more hauling, unpacking and packing up all the tools and materials every time I want to do work and I even have a small refrigerator and microwave out there.  I have even thought about getting a small window AC to use once the cabin is shelled in and it is a hot and humid day. I could just toss the AC unit into one of the windows and help cool things down. We'll see about that one, but it's not out of the question!
    Things in the region are starting to jump into summer mode. Already there has been an increase in traffic and that will peak around the 4th of July. The festivals are starting to occur with an art show last weekend in Houghton, Bridgefest in Houghton/Hancock this weekend and then of course the big 4th of July weekend approaching in a little over 2 weeks. Speaking of festivals, we have decided on a date for next years JohnDee.com SnowFest Ride in. It will be the first weekend in March. We plan to have it Friday and Saturday the 2nd and 3rd of March. This years event will be open to anyone that wants to pre register and lots more details will be made available in the weeks and months to come. No need to register just yet as there will be no cap to the size of the event like we had last year, but I did want to tell everyone the dates, so they can get the time off if they need to or to even book rooms if they want to be that prepared in advance. There are some new and fun things in the works for this next event and I know I am looking forward to it even more than last years. It was great to meet so many of you and I hope you all will be able to return and the rest of you can make it up too.
    Well, I think that about covers it for this one.
    Guess who turns the BIG 4 0 tomorrow???? ;)
    Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
June 5-
    Surprise, surprise! A new journal in less than the 6-8 day schedule I have been keeping. I have two reasons for that. First I have material to write about and secondly I have some spare time and things may get too busy at the end of this week, so I figured I had better take advantage of the situation. We are at a bit of a lull in the activity up at the property- for the moment. All the "below grade" plumbing is done and is ready for inspection. Nora and I also went up yesterday and finished the trenching for the thickened edges on the 1/2 of the foundation away from all the plumbing. We also put down a vapor barrier and put some re-bar into the trenches that were dug out. I spoke to the inspector today and he plans to look at it Wednesday. If it passes, then we can bury the pipe and get on with the rest of the trenching, vapor barrier and then put the insulation and pex down and get ready for the pex inspection next week and to pour the following weekend. I have been enjoying most of the foundation work so far, but am really chomping at the bit to work with the wood.
    We have been having some wonderful weather  the past week or so, with nice low humidity and temps in the 70's, plus tons of sunshine. Today the humidity is up. We started out with temps in low 40's and dewpoints in the upper 30's here in the valley, but by 10 am the temp was in the upper 70's and the dewpoint had risen into the mid 50's. It has been pretty dry as well, with the last real measurable rainfall almost 2 weeks ago and that was less than 1/2". The next previous rain event is almost 4 weeks ago when we got that 3.5" in 2 days. So things are drying out. Drive a gravel road and you create a dust storm. I cannot even imagine living on a gravel road. Some folks spray vegetable oil on the gravel and that helps to knock the dust down. I think the county even used to do it, but have not seen them out in a few years. There are some cases where the road is paved right next to the home on the gravel road in an attempt to keep the dust to a minimum, but the dust still drifts, especially when it is as dry like it is now. Things are still green, but the grass has slowed growing considerably and I think the bug issue has slackened a bit as well. The normal peak for the black flies is over and in a few weeks they will be a faded memory for the most part. The mosquitos will have to be dealt with all summer, but I can manage those much better than the the black flies.
    The main reason why I have something to talk about in this entry is that on Saturday I took part in a log home building class. The instructor lives just outside of Lake Linden and has already held some classes up here. I attended the first, but missed the second as I believe it was close to a repeat and I had something else going on that evening. This class was to be much different and allowed us the opportunity to actually cut some logs ourselves. Saturday was a perfect day for it, with temps in the 70's, low humidity and a little bit of a breeze. The instructor has worked for a few log home builders and actually built his own place pretty much all by himself. As you can see it is not yet quite finished, but he is living in the log home now and I think after spending the past 4-5 years building that massive home all by himself he is taking a bit of a breather! The home is also deceivingly large. The main reason it does not look as large as it is until you are standing right next to it is because he used massive logs to build it. They average 24" in diameter and he even has a few 3 footers in it. In that last shot, take a look at the right hand corner, second log from the bottom, then compare it's diameter to the basement doors. The style of construction is Scandinavian Full Scribe, which is the style I want to use. You use full logs and scribe the profile of the lower log onto the bottom of the upper log and then cut the bottom of the upper log out so that is nestles perfectly into place. As the logs dry and shrink the joints become tighter, which is better!
    The first three hours of the class was spent inside his home watching a presentation and learning about the process. Then in the afternoon we headed outside to try our hand at making some cuts. The first stage in any log home building process is to acquire some logs and it was no different for our class. Bill was the instructors name and he had some left over logs that we could use to practice on. There were 5 of us and somehow I managed to escape having to haul that one out. We pulled about 5-6 logs out so that we had enough for everyone to be able to do some cutting on.  The second step would have been to have to strip the bark off the logs, but that had already been done back when Bill was building his place. Stripping the bark is the one job I am not looking forward to when we build our home and I am already planning on getting some help. Hey, maybe we can have a JohnDee.com log stripping party!
    Anyway, the log at the very bottom of the wall is called the half-log. The reason is because it is actually cut in half so that it can rest on the foundation or floor and have the next log be able to cover it. There are several ways to cut the log in half and we did it the old fashion way by snapping some chalk lines and following them (or trying to) free hand with a chain saw.  We all got to take turns at sawing the log in half and we were all glad that the log was only about 8 feet long and not 40! There are several devices you can put onto a chainsaw to help make a ripping cut like that and I am sure that I will get one or borrow one when the time comes.
    Once you have the log cut in half, no matter how skilled you are at handling a chain saw, it will need to be flattened more. You do not want any large gaps for air, water or creepy critters to get under. Bill showed us a way to flatten out the log further while still using the chain saw. You hold the bar just above the log and just sort of brush the top of the log with the chain by dropping the bar down a bit, taking a bit off the high spots and leaving the low spots. It actually works very good for removing large amounts of wood in a short time and was not too hard to learn. Here is one of my classmates giving it a try. Once you have it as good as you can get with the chainsaw, then you move on to using a hand or power planer. Bill is a fan of power tools and so we used the power planer. After the planer, the final stage is to use the angle grinder with a sanding disk. Through all of this process you are checking your progress with an 8 foot level and by the time you are done, you have a very flat log bottom to put on to the foundation or floor. It took our group about 30-45 minutes to flatten out that 8 footer. I suppose an experienced builder could do a 30 footer in about the same amount of time, maybe an hour or so.
    The next step and a step that is done on every log is to make a "scarf" or to remove some of the wood on the sides of the top half of the log in order so that the next log can sit on top of it, without having to remove too much material off of that top log. The scarf joint is also part of the magic of this type of building and how the joints will only get tighter as the log dries. You then flatten/level out the scarf cut in the same manner as we did the bottom of the log, using the chainsaw and then the sander.
    One you have the bottom of the 1/2 log flat and the scarf cuts made, then it is done and time to move onto the next log. That next log sits perpendicular to the first log and also sits over the end of that first log. The next log is actually called the 3/4 log, because you still have to remove a bit off the bottom so that it can sit on the foundation or floor, but not much- about 3/4 or less. Some builders just call the 3/4 log a full log too, which is the name for all other logs in the wall that are left whole. To start working on the next log, you lay it across the previous one and then mark it for a rough notch. This rough notch allows the log to sit level and about 3" off the top of the previous log. You do not have to be precise with this scribe or cutting of the notch. I'll show you what a scribe is in a minute. Here is a shot of Bill cutting the rough notch on the 3/4 log.
    So now we have a rough notch that the log we are working on can sit onto the previous log while the log still sits around 3" off the long running parallel (or in this case the floor) below it. The next step is to make the final scribe for the notch and also to make final scribes for the lateral notch. The lateral notch is the one that allows the two logs that run parallel to each other to sit on top of each other with no gaps. A scribe is simply a way of transferring the profile of the log below to the bottom of the log you are working on so you can remove the wood in a proper way to make the logs fit perfectly. Here is a shot while we were making the final scribe for the notch. The tool is actually called a scribe and has levels at the end to ensure that you keep the scribe perfectly level while you do the tracing or scribing. It is very important that this final scribe be spot on and then the cutting be spot on, otherwise you will end up with a joint that does not fit perfectly. The joint would still work, but would just not look as nice or work as nice. Because of this exactness needed, you score the scribe line with a chisel first and then remove the wood in the notch with the chain saw. Quite honestly, when I did a final notch, I did not even try to get right up to the chisel mark with the chain saw, one little hop of that saw blade in the wrong direction and you are "coloring outside the lines and have messed up that whole log. My approach was to get within about 1/4 to 1/8th of an inch with the saw and then finish with the chisel. Maybe after cutting my 12th final notch I will feel comfortable to take a chain saw right up to the line.  In any case, once you cut out the final notch, you are ready to set the log in place and if you did everything just right, they should fit right into each other perfectly.
    Then it is on to the next log. Here we are laying out the top portion of the scarf cut (the wood removed on the left side of the log was some rot that Bill took off to make working with the log easier for us), here is the log with the scarf cut made as well as rough notch cut out. Then since this log would be the first log we cut that had another log underneath it we had to not only scribe the final notch, but also scribe the lateral groove- the groove that allows the top log to sit perfectly on top of the log below it. Here is Bill cutting out the lateral groove. That cutting also has to be done with precision, just like the final notch. Once the final notch and lateral groove are cut, you can drop that log into place and admire your work.
    I had a blast building those walls and it took our group about 4 hours to do those three logs. Keep in mind that the logs were much smaller (not as long) than a normal log for a wall would be, so we could just move the logs by hand and did not need a crane, plus we did not have to scribe or cut as much, so it would take much longer to do a full sized log, probably about 4-5 times as long. So a group of 2 workers can expect to do about 2, maybe 3 logs in a 10 hour work day. It was also great to get the experience and actually build a portion of a log wall myself. Am I ready to build my own log home? Not quite yet. I could if I had to, but do not feel comfortable enough to go ahead and start the log home.  Good thing I am not planning to build that for another few years. I am sure I will get some more instruction from Bill and then even practice on some scrap logs before I start cutting into the ones I slaved over to peel the bark off! But I did get to see all that is involved and how much work it will be. One of the hardest things about the process I did not even talk about, but that is selecting the next log. You actually have to think a couple of logs ahead of the one you are working on to make sure that you do not end up with a scarf that is too big for any log in your inventory to cover. There are some tricks and also a bit of finesse involved, but I won't get any deeper into the details than that. For that you will have to sign up for your own class. Bill will be having future classes and if you are interested you can go to: logclass.com.
    Well, I think that about covers it for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
June 1-
    I don't know about you, but it seems very hard to believe that it is already June 1. If the next 4 months go by as fast as May did, the snows will be back upon us in no time. Not that I am overly anxious for the snows to return. I have a house to build before that can happen! At least get 4 walls a roof and windows and doors on first. We have been making progress up there bit by bit and I am not too worried that we will be able to finish by the time the snow fly's. The forms are in for the slab and are level and square. The next step is to get the plumbing roughed in for an inspection next week, so that I can cover it up and then move on to putting down the insulation and rebar and mesh for the foundation and then lay the pex so I can get that inspected so we can pour the foundation. Sounds like a lot to do just so that we can get on to building the structure, but the plumbing is a pretty straightforward deal, I designed the house with things like keeping the plumbing simple in mind. The insulation is a couple of our job as is the rebar and mesh. The pex will probably take 6-7 hours total and I will be getting help from friends on the day the concrete truck arrives.  All the framing members are ready to go and the sheathing will be ordered up and delivered in a little bit, so soon most of the materials will be on site.
    I figure if all goes as planned we will be pouring the slab on the 17th of June and we should have the walls done by early July, the second floor loft a week or so after that and then the roof after that. So by the middle to end of August I could be working on the windows and doors and then the exterior siding so that we can get that all done while the temps are still warm enough for using the Sikkens. Then it will be on to finishing the interior of the walls and ceilings, build the kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, lay the floors and then have the pros come in and hook up the heating and move in! When I look at that list it seems rather daunting, but just like everything in life, one day at a time.
    No other pictures of the progress up there, but there will be more soon. We have a new resident living up there- at least I think he's new as I have never seen him before. He is quiet and keeps to himself and does not take up much room at all. The best part about him is that he loves to eat the bugs that fly around up there and try to bite Nora, Burt and I. I did not catch his name, but we decided to call him Barney because he likes to hang out on the side of the shop (barn). If I had time I would actually look for a plan for a house for him that I could build and make several, so he could invite some of his friends over too. Natures perfect insect eliminator.
    Last Sunday during the heat and humidity we had Nora, Burt and I went to the beach to cool off. No need to go into the water at this stage of the game to cool off, all you have to do is be near the water and you will be plenty cool. When we left the house it was 88 degrees. It felt kind of strange to be grabbing a coat as we headed out the door, but we could have almost used some gloves out there as the temp right up along the lake was a balmy 54 degrees. Both Nora and I were glad we brought those coats, while Burt adjusted just fine. It was a nice day to be at the beach, the bugs were pretty much non existent and even though we did need a jacket, the sun was still plenty warm and we were comfortable. Plus it was just nice to be back at the beach again. This region has so many hidden and not so hidden gems I am really surprised that more folks don't come up here just for them. Summer tourist season is busier than winter, but still most of the beaches are pretty empty most of the time- which is just fine with me!
    Burt was also very excited to be at the beach again. He fetched sticks until both Nora and my arms were sore from tossing, at which point he just decided to lay down and chew on the stick for a while. He does not eat it, just bites it and then spits out the pieces. It was different and a little lonely without Baileys there. She was not a real big beach dog. She did not like to swim too much as she got water in her ears very easily and it bothered her. She liked to wade in the water and then just lay in the sand and watch Burt fetch sticks. For some reason I was missing her extra special on Sunday and just did not feel up to going to the beaches that we frequented more and also visited on her final days with us. I am sure that I will be feeling more up to going to those special spots soon, but also know the first time or two will be hard.
    I can say for as much as I was missing Baileys on Sunday, it did my heart tons of good to watch Burt have so much fun. He was like a little kid out there and bounded around like I have not seen in some time. Then on Monday, it was another hot day and so it was another good day for Burt to swim for the afternoon outing. He ended up slipping or twisting or something. Anyway, he ended up flat on his stomach with his front paws underneath him. By the end of the day on Monday he could not even put any pressure on it and hobbled around on three legs. Tuesday was no better so I tried to get him in to see the vet, but they were full on Tuesday and Wednesday we had to go to Marquette for a health test for me, so we scheduled him for an exam today. As luck would have it, when we got home from Marquette yesterday he was walking around with very little limp. We took him with and maybe the sitting in the car all day was good rest for him. He was still good today, so I ended up canceling the appointment. We took a small walk this evening and we will just take it easy and ease him back into some exercise. I sure was worried that he might need surgery or otherwise be laid up for the summer, which would not be a good thing- especially as much as he loves to swim.
    About my only other excitement for the week has been to go up the the Keweenaw County Courthouse in Eagle River to file the paperwork and pay the fees to get the permits for the plumbing. Both the Houghton County and Keweenaw County courthouses are very neat, but I have to admit that I think that Keweenaw County as the building for Houghton County beat. Not so much in the building itself, they at both very old and very cool buildings, but the Keweenaw County Courthouse sits on a little knoll overlooking Lake Superior. I did not take a picture of it, but the Sheriff's office and jail are just as neat looking as the courthouse, except for the bars on some of the windows for the jail rooms. I have never been a guest at the Keweenaw County jail (no other jail either!) and hope I never am, but I suppose it is probably one of the better places to be locked up if you have to. The Sheriff's wife cooks all the meals for those locked up and I think the view out your window would be pretty nice if you have one.
    Well I think that pretty much covers it for this one. It's rolling on my bed time and I sure need all the beauty sleep I can get!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -