August 26-
    Greetings on this final entry for August of 2012. Technology has not been kind to me the past week to ten days. First, about 10 days ago, my main computer went down. Since I need a computer to do ALL of my work, I have not just one back up, but two. So far backup number 1 is working and with a little luck, I will have my main computer back to me this week. One of the main bummers is that the hard drive on that machine was also a shared network drive on my home office network, so there are some files on it that I really could have used in the past 10 days, but have not been able to get at. Also, my backups are laptops, whereas the main computer is a desktop and I am way too used to typing on the keyboard of the main machine and thus make quite a few mistakes with the laptop keyboard. Ahhh, but life goes on.
    My second bit of technology failure was my cell phone dying on me. For some reason it does not want to take a charge. I think there is probably a loose connection where you plug the USB cable into. My current contract is not up until February, but I am hoping to be able to just do an early upgrade. I would really like to get the new I-phone, for a number of reasons. First, Nora has one, so I will have a full time phone coach! Secondly, what little I have used her phone, I have found it to be way more friendly. I am not a tech geek anymore, so it's not like I use the phone to do everything in my life like some, but I think with a more user friendly phone (at last more friendly to this user), I might use the phones many functions a bit more. Lastly, I do have an I pod that I use and like and already have an apple account setup on one of my machines, so synching it up and loading all of my music will be nice. At any rate, I guess we will see what they can do for me and what I end up with. I do have a backup cell phone too. It is about 4 years old and very much like cell phones were like before the days of smart phones. 
    Before I go on, I need to say that I am planning on being at Hayday's again this year. Just for Saturday and I am not sure if I will need to be at the Togwotee booth for most of the day or not. However, I need to mention that the sled that was refurbished and to be auctioned off for the Make A Wish will be at the show and you will be able to buy raffle tickets for it there. It will be at my friend Matt's booth. Just look for the Revolution Free Ride tent and trailer. Also, my sled from last season will be there. I bought it outright and have done a few things to it that I think are pretty cool. I am not quite ready to reveal all that has been done to it and not sure if I will have everything set before Hayday's, but regardless of if I will have things ready for the reveal on the web before Haydays, you will be able to see it at Matt
's Revolution Free Ride tent at Hayday's and see what I am talking about.
    Ok, I think that covers it as far as the announcements. This past week, I was sent an awesome picture of the Northern Lights taken from the Keweenaw recently. I do not know the exact date, but am pretty sure it was within the past week or so. The person that took the shot has sent me some neat ones in the past and has a place up here not far from our house. Anyway, without further adieu, here is the shot. For those wanting to use it as a screen saver or something, here is a full sized version. I sure wish that I could stay up late enough to see those! 
    My next set of shots are for those that love pics of Gracie. Even though she is just about all of mine and Nora's lives these days, I try not to go too overboard with showing her off in the journal, but since I update my Facebook page about as often as Halley's Comet comes around, the journal is the main way to update my family and friends on life with the Dees. So if you are not interested in pics of her, skip down through the next paragraph.
    Since being born, Nora has always hired out someone to take professional photos of Gracie and I am really glad that she has, because some of my most favorite photos of Gracie are the ones that have been taken by those photographers. This year provided another bountiful harvest of shots and here are a few of my favorites. I think this one and also this one, probably best capture her in every day life. This is a pose we don't see too often, but found the Dr. Evil from Mike Meyer's "Goldmember", resemblance too good to pass up. Every time I look at that photo, I imagine her thinking: "Hmmm, just a few more days and I will have Mommy and Daddy fully under my command and then I can take over THE WORLD!" Moving on to a completely different mode, this is a pose that you can find her in many times. She is very content to just sit and play with something all by herself. When things get really quiet, Nora and I get really concerned, but sometimes, she is just quietly playing with something and that pose reminded me of those times. She loves the outdoors and just this morning, followed me around for an hour while I did some work outside. That after a two mile walk. So this shot and this shot are perfect examples of her out in the great Keweenaw outdoors. I especially like the one of her blowing the seeds off the dandelion, or "puffer" as she calls them. Of course she is not always posing perfectly for the camera and we do end up with moments like this, and this and this. Which also perfectly match up with some of her moments in real life. Silly, Sillier and well, maybe time for a nap! After the picture taking of her was over, Nora said that Grace wanted to take some pictures herself. So they found a willing subject and she fired off a few action shots!
    It has been a pretty busy week in prep work for the addition. I finished up with all the work I could do and gave the contractor who is going to do the earth moving work a call and told him I was done early and if he wanted to come up early to get going, he could. So he came up on Thursday afternoon and started doing some work. On Friday, he started prepping the land for the new driveway location and came upon this bugger. I know that the Ojibway name for Keweenaw is "Place of Crossing" or portage, but really, I think they were just telling the white man a doozy when the first white men arrived in the area and said that they were here to do some digging for copper. If, you have ever tried to dig a hole of any size in the Keweenaw, you will believe me when I say I think the actual meaning to Keweenaw is "ground is full of rocks!". 
    Anyway, that one was about 5-6 feet in diameter and too big to lift out of the hole with the mini excavator they had and I am not sure a full sized excavator could have lifted it out, so it was decided that since we did not need to remove all of the rock and only needed to shave the top 5-6" off of the top knob, they would drill a series of holes into the knob and knock it off with the bucket of the excavator. It did take about 4-5 hours of almost constant drilling to do the trick, but when they returned Saturday morning, they were able to snap off that top knob of the rock and finish up with the grading work for the driveway.
    The rest of Saturday morning was spent digging out the dirt to make room for the sand pad that the slab foundation will go on and they also put a few loads of sand in place before calling it a day on Saturday. So right now things are a bit messy out there, with lots of dirt. The pups have already found out how fun it is to play in the dirt and this mornings light rain only made the situation worse. The good news is that by the end of the day on Tuesday, we should have little in the way of dirt for the pups to get into and where there will be dirt with planted grass seed down, I plan to fence off until the grass comes up.
    Unfortunately, I did not get to do a lot of playing this week. In addition to the work for the addition, I had to go to Marquette on Tuesday and then it just was too hot and humid to spend a lot of time outdoors Friday and Saturday afternoon. I did get out with the pups this afternoon and was able to relax a bit in the woods, while watching them run around like labs do in the woods. There are more and more splashes of color out in the woods, but we are still at the stage where they are in the splash phase and not widespread. The widespread will come in about a month.
    As I just mentioned, it got pretty warm and humid up this way the end of this week. We were in the upper 80's with dewpoints in the upper 60's. Not totally unheard of for this time of the year, but I was really starting to like those highs in the 60's with no noticeable humidity. Looks like we will be cooler and less humid for early this week, but back to warm and humid for the second half of the week and weekend. I suppose I can bear with it as the days of really warm and humid air are pretty limited when we get to this time of the year. Heck, in a month, I could be talking about snow in the forecast! A good note to end on.
Good night from the Keweenaw..

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August 19-
   Second last entry for August already! Boy how time flies when you are busy and having fun! It's been a busy week with lots of work and some play. I can't think of anything to say about the weather, so I think for the most part it has been fairly unremarkable. That does not mean that it has not been nice. In fact, I think that this week has followed the trend of our summer as a whole. It has been peachy! Ok, sorry about that, I promise not to do that again, at least for the rest of this entry. 
    Those were a few of the peaches that we have on our peach tree this year. It is once again loaded down to the point where the limbs are just about to break and the entire tree is leaning heavily to one side. Next spring I plan to prop the tree up better, so that it does not end up growing with a permanent lean. Most of the fruit looks to be in pretty decent shape, so we will likely have a ton all ripe at the same time. Probably freeze some, but I think a nice pie or cobbler should be made too!
    We have been busy off and on all week with more clearing. I took a look at where we stood as far as room for the driveway and realized that we really should have more room between the future driveway and the future addition, especially come winter for snow. So I took down a few more trees in the spot where I worked last week. Then yesterday, I took down a big maple that was growing at around a 45 degree angle and was also going to be in the way of the future driveway. Once that was done, then I moved the swing set to it's new location for the winter and possibly next summer as well. I then had to take down a cluster of cedars, some of which were about 30 feet tall and had diameters of around 2 feet at their base. At first I thought I might cut the bigger cedars into 8 foot sections and take them to a friend that has a sawmill to get them sawn into boards, but the trunks were being eaten from the inside by ants and the wood was not usable- except for firewood. I cleaned up some saplings and have just one more load of branches and brush to take to the spot where we have been dumping things and I will be done with my end of the clearing job. The contractor is scheduled to start his clearing work next week and hopefully by the very end of the month, we will have the new route for the driveway done and also a sand pad put in place for the foundation to go on. My hopes are to be pouring the slab the weekend after Haydays... if all goes as planned!
    Today during the cutting and clearing session, we loaded up the truck with a bunch of brush and Nora snapped a shot of it. Thankfully I only had to travel down the main highway for a few miles! Just kidding. I have to go out to the road we live on, then drive about 200 feet to my neighbors driveway to get back into a spot on our property where I have been dumping all the brush.
    The other big job for this weekend has been this. Nope, it's not what you see in the picture, it is what you don't see. That is the swimming pool. We kept it up and running through Wednesday and did swim in it Tuesday, but with temps cooling back into the 60's for highs and 40's for lows the end of the week, I pulled the plug on it-literally. It's not that big of a job to take it down or put it up, but I am very relieved when both process are completed for the season. It's all packed up and stored away until next June.
    The week has not been all work and no play. The pups and I have been enjoying our morning walks in the nice crisp air we have been having and yesterday was nice enough that Nora and Gracie headed to the beach while I did some of the clearing work. There was an estate sale down in Jacobsville that Nora wanted to go to and there is a beautiful beach down that way at White City, so the two gals had a fun time hanging out at the beach for a while.
    In my clearings this week, I noticed a hornets nest hanging from one of the limbs. Thankfully it was not a limb that was part of a tree that I needed to cut down, nor did I need to cut down the limb. So I did not have to anger them and risk a swarm at me. In any case, there is some weather folklore out there that says the severity of the upcoming winter (especially in the amount of snow to fall) is correlated to how high the hornets build their nest. I have not really noticed this to be very credible, but if the height of this particular nest is an indication, we are in for a doosy this winter. That nest is about 20 feet off the ground!
   Well, I guess that about covers it for this one. Hard to believe that next week will be the final entry for August. I can imagine that is music to the ears of snowlovers among us. Hard to believe that in about a month and a half the first flakes of snow could be in the forecast. Keeping that in mind, the Keweenaw Trails Services will be having our annual trail work session on Friday October 19th and Saturday October 20th. For those that have participated in the past, the location and times are pretty much the same, for those that have not come up for the fun (it is really a good time), you can check out more of the details on this thread on the discussion board.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
August 12-
    I guess I don't have to tell you all how wonderful the last week of weather has been, as most of you have been living it, at least for the past several days. We did have another week of spectacular weather, although there are some hints of autumn starting to show up. We have been having some chillier mornings, with temps in the upper 40's to around 50 degrees. I even had to wear a light jacket on my walk Thursday evening and enjoyed some soup for lunch on Thursday. I even saw where International Falls dropped to 38 Friday morning. I am not the only one that had to forgo the summer wear on a walk. Gracie wore both long pants and a sweatshirt on Saturday morning's walk.
    There are also a few splashes of color starting to pop up amongst the trees up here. We are still about 6-7 weeks from peak color, but it's not unusual at all to see a few trees with color in them at this time of the year. I can remember coming up to this neck of the woods in the first half of August back in the mid 90's before I lived here and leaving the heat and humidity of northern IL behind to have to wear a sweatshirt and seeing some colors up here. Really made me long to live here. If only I knew that in a few years I would! Actually, I am glad that the move came on rather sudden and I did not have to wait long for it to take place.
    I have thoroughly enjoyed the great sleeping weather we are having. Nothing better than going to sleep in a nice chilly room and hearing all the sounds and smelling all the scents of the Northwoods from an open window. I am half tempted to take the AC out of the other bedroom window and even though it looks like we will not need it in the next week to ten days, I think I will play it save for a few more weeks. I really hate to have to put it back in and hate even more to be without it on an isolated warm night or two at the end of August or early September. 
    The only only down side to the cooler temps has been the swimming scene. The pool is still plenty warm, but yesterday Gracie and I gave it a whirl and only lasted about 10 minutes before we both got too chilly- even with the water temps in the upper 80's. It looks like the air temps will be in the mid to upper 70's through about Wednesday, so I will keep it up through then, but then if the cool off for the end of this week looks like it is going to pan out, it might be time to pull the plug on the pool and take 'er down for the season.
    The weather has been very agreeable for getting into the woods and that is exactly what we did yesterday. The blackberries are ripening and even though many of them still have a week or so to go, we were able to find enough to make picking worth while.
    Gracie wanted Nora and I to dump all of our berries into her pail and as it started to fill up, we asked her to be very careful, not to run with the pail or she might spill them. She was very careful and did not end up spilling a single berry.
    Grace, Nora and I were not the only ones to be picking berries though. Millie and Huck also got into the action. It just cracks me up every time we go picking that they too go into the thickets and pick the berries. It also amazes me that they know only to pick the ripe ones! All of that coming un-coached, they learned entirely by watching us. The only down side to having them pick is that they do not pick to save, they pick to eat and they usually get out ahead of us and can pick a thicket clean before we even have a chance to get there!
    Even still, we managed to pick a solid 4 cups of berries, which was the goal because that is enough to make a pie!
    It's hasn't been all fun and games around here all week though. I started the first phase of the addition to the cabin this weekend. We will need to be moving the driveway over about 40 feet or so, so I have some tree clearing to do before we can put in the new driveway path. From this picture, the new path for the driveway will be to the left of the current driveway. Here is a shot from the other end of the re-route. I will move the playground and the driveway will go where it is as well as through the brush on the right. Back up on top, there are also trees right next to the cabin that will need to come down so that we will have room for the addition. There are a few that I will cut down there, but will leave most of them to the guys that will be doing the dirtwork. They will be able to use their machinery to persuade the trees to fall away from the cabin. I am pretty good at notching and getting a tree to fall exactly where I want to, but every once in a while, a tree will surprise you and I don't need any kind of surprises like that! It's funny, as I was walking around and taking the pictures, Huck and Millie were looking at me like: "what the heck are you doing Dad?". So I had to take a picture of them.
    So after our morning walk yesterday, I commenced to doing some cutting and then finished the cutting before the morning walk today. The cutting is the easy part, the hard part is the removal of what I cut. So I called in reinforcements to help me use the truck to haul the logs over to the wood boiler and to load the brush and haul it over to a spot we have for disposing of such things on the property. I think in that last pick, Millie is thinking: "If I jump now, the truck is moving slow enough that I should be OK before this little chicky finds her crazy streak and kills us all!". 
    We were able to get all the clearing up by the driveway done today and all the logs are nicely stacked by the wood boiler for burning. There is still a bit more cutting for me to do, but really not that much. A clump of cedars by the playground and then a maple that is leaning at about 45 degrees and then just clear up the brush in a small area and my clearing work will be done. In about 2 weeks, the driveway re-route work will be done, as well as the excavation and prep work for the slab. I really hope to be able to pouring the slab by the second half of September, then I can be free of worries that it needs to get done before the snow flies and concentrate on getting the shop more set up for building the cabinetry and furniture for the addition.
    I guess that gets you all caught up for this week. Busy times, but exciting time too!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
August 6-
    In the almost 13 years since starting this journal, I believe this is an all time first. I am actually writing from the road. Not in a hotel, or vacation home or at a relative, but as I type, Nora is driving the truck and we are headed home from visiting my mom in southern WI.
    We snuck out of town around midday on Wednesday to go down and be with my mom and other family members for Graces 3rd birthday on Saturday. So, this entry will be primarily the Gracie Dee show, as we did not spend much of the past week in the Keweenaw, so no Keweenaw pics, or stories or even weather recaps. Well, I guess a bit of a recap could be done. The front half of the week (while we were still there) was beautiful, with comfortable temps and humidity levels and I was checking things, and even forecasting for a few the local radio stations, so I do know what happened while we were gone and it remained quite nice.
    Southern WI on the other hand was hot and humid Wednesday through Saturday and I sure can say that I don't miss that weather at all! We have had a spectacular summer so far and my 4 day stint in the heat and especially humidity this trip south only re-enforced how lucky we have been with our weather this summer up north. Looking at the next 10 days, it looks nearly ideal as well, with temps largely in the 70's, low humidity and mostly sunny  skies for most of the days. That is extra good news as this is the time of the year when I can start counting down the potential days left for any heat and humidity. Once we get past the first week of September, we can pretty much kiss any real and/or sustained heat and humidity good bye. There has been the odd year that things have stayed warm and/or humid into the second or even third week of Sept, but that is quite rare.
    So, since the current forecast takes us out to around the 16th of August with no nasty hear or humidity seen, then it is probable that we only have about a 3 week window left for any of that nasty stuff to arrive.
    Not that I am all anxious to have to get all bundled up or even have to wear a coat and not be able to wear shorts. Mid 60's to mid 70's, with low humidity is perfect by me for the next 2 months!
    So getting back to our adventure in southern WI. We arrived on Wednesday and Nora, Gracie and my mom met up with my brother and some of his friends and took in opening day of the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee. I stayed back at my mom's because I had to work and also wanted to be with Huck and Millie. They do great by themselves at our house and probably would do fine at places like my mom's, but we did not want to chance it and I did have to work anyway.
    So, I was not able to know the exact order of events, but do have a host of pictures to share with you from the fair. It had been over a year since my brother saw Gracie, so he really felt like he had some catching up to do with her. I think he had the whole day planned out at the fair for all of them and even with the high temps and humidity, Grace almost made it through the whole day...almost. Again, I was not there, but got the rundown and my apologies to anyone taking the bus back from the fair to the South Ridge Mall Thursday afternoon! They got to see what an otherwise sweet little 3 year old is like when she is way past tired!
    The list of activities for the day included things like taking in the rug slide. I love that pic! There was also the animals to see and pet, and ride. A little bit of horse play, or would that be deer play? And of course I am sure they all ate lots of fried foods on a stick! I wish I could have gone, but was also a bit glad I did not have to deal with the heat all day either!
    Back at my moms, she was kept busy with swims with her other uncle and lots of playing with her grandma. My mom's place is right on the lake and there is a park near by that has a beach and a tire swing to play on. The lake shore also has a walking path all the way around it. The lake is twenty something miles all the way around, so we did not walk all the way around the lake, but did take several walks in either direction down the shore path. My mom has a habit of putting her had on her hip while she stops to take a drink of water and this picture of Grace makes me chuckle a little as it shows how she is starting to pattern those she loves.
    As mentioned, it was her 3rd birthday on Saturday and it got started pretty early- earlier than mom and dad would have wished anyway! But such days only happen once a year and we are both always eager to help make the most of the special moments in her life. So with blurry eyes we got going on the day and it did not take long at all for grandma to join in on things with some of the gifts that she had for her. The first gift of the day was a good one, a brand new pair of cowgirl boots! There were a host of other gifts given to her during the day and one of the biggest was a bubble blowing gun. Just pull the trigger and fill the air with bubbles!
    We had a nice gathering of uncles and Great-Aunts and Nora spent a few hours preparing a cake for Gracie, which we all did our best to put away as much of it as possible. Before we could do that, another favorite picture of mine from the weekend's fun was taken, it's of my girl and I.
    There were some nice down times as well. Grace is slowly starting to be able to sit still for a few moments. She does usually have to keep talking though, but at least Nora or I are not having to have to follow her around at a blistering pace to make sure she does not get into serious trouble. At other times, she is just content to do something where Nora and I can sit and watch her. An activity she was introduced to at my mom's this weekend was checking out the boys at the beach with the binoculars.
    So I think that about covers it for this one. Kind of hard to believe that the next time I write, August will already be nearly half over and the weight-challenged woman will be getting warmed up to sing her final song of summer.
    Good night from the Keweenaw..
August 5-
     Will write tomorrow!     
Good night from the Keweenaw..


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