July 28-
    Wow...I had a strong feeling that with all the work that was going to be going on this summer, that it would fly by, but it has gone faster than I had imagined. Sure there is still the entire month of August to go through before I can declare summer over (for meteorologists anyway), but my least favorite month is just about over and right now it is very much like late September out there than late July.
    All of this week has been pretty unlike late July, even for us. We had wonderful weather, with temps in the 60's and 70's and low humidity most days. We had a cold front move through Thursday night and an upper air low has kept us under clouds and precip since Friday. It has been chilly too. Today, our temp has yet to even make it into the 50's! Yesterday we also were in the 40's for most of the day and then late afternoon the precip stopped and we even had a few peaks of sun and the temp shot up into the mid 50's briefly, before cooling back down as the sun got lower on the horizon. 
    The main theme to this entry is the same as it has been for the past few weeks and probably will be for the next few weeks. That being the work on the addition. This was one of those weeks where quite a bit got done, but to the casual observer, it may look otherwise. Most of the work was to finish up the electrical that needed to be done once the walls got opened up. All of the rough plumbing was completed as well. Things went pretty smoothly and I really can be thankful to say that so far, there have not been any major issues to deal with. There was me drilling into the existing pex heating tube last autumn when I was getting ready to pour the foundation. This week, I did cut into an electrical line. It's amazing how fast a reciprocating saw with a demo blade can cut through things like NM cable! 
    I think the main reason why I made that mistake was that I was nervous. I had the foreman looking over me all day. That's "Big Barbie" and sometimes she just FREAKS ME OUT! There have been more than one occasion when I stumbled out of bed in the pre-dawn hours, feeling my way through an almost pitch black house to get to the stairway and up to my office, when I look over and see Big Barbie laying on the couch or in the corner in some weird position and my first thought it that it's Gracie! 
    Anyway, as mentioned, all the rough electrical and plumbing is done, so that means that the drywall crew can come back and finish up their work. They are slated to arrive later this week and it will probably take 3-4 days for them to hang the rest of the sheetrock and then do all the taping and finish work. My plan is to try and finish up some of the major outdoor work to be done. The past week has not been the best for outdoor work. We have had quite a bit of rain (especially in the past 3 days) and I really want to get most of the outdoor work done, so that I will not get stuck in a situation where autumn and it's potential for cold and wet weather keeps me from finishing things up.
    With the rain delay yesterday, we decided to make the most of things and set up a baseball field inside the addition. Gracie was really wanting to go out side and play, but could not, so we did it inside as well. We set up a little t-ball stand for her and we took turns hitting and fielding the ball. She is pretty darn good at hitting the ball, even when it is tossed to her. If the rain keeps up, maybe we will have to break out the hockey sticks and shoot the puck around!
    It did stop raining yesterday mid-afternoon and stayed dry for the rest of the daylight hours. So I got out and made the most of the dry weather by starting to hang the shingles on the gable of the existing home. I actually got a tiny bit of a start on Wednesday, but had to stop because I did not have enough of the cedar breather backing to continue and the lumber yard does not carry it in stock, so the roll arrived Thursday afternoon, just about the time the weather was going south. I worked from around 2 until 8:30 yesterday, taking about 45 minutes for dinner, and was able to get about 1/2 way up the gable, which because of the way the area gets smaller as you go up, means I probably covered about 2/3rds of the area to be covered.
    I really do not like the work that is off the ground, but so far have not minded the shingle work too much. The one big bonus is the smell. The cedar smells so wonderful. No work today, although I could smell the cedar as I walked out to take that picture and then jumped over the moat to get back into the front door.
    So hopefully the weather breaks tomorrow as is indicated and I can finish up the work on the gable. Then the plan is to get all the wood for the back of the house stained and ready to go up and hopefully have enough favorable weather to get most of that work on the back of the house done this week. Then the side of the addition next week. Beyond that the last 3 major projects I would like to get done before August comes to a close will be to tongue and groove the ceiling in the great room, remodel the kitchen and finish the siding work on the doormers.
    The stress of this project has been pretty high, even off the charts at times, but it does pass and it seems like my worst moments are when I am not working (idle mind syndrom). With each passing day/week and project, the stress does seem to ease and I really cannot complain. The stress is expected and as mentioned, so far things have gone very smoothly. I can also say that I am blessed to have a family that is just rolling with things and even helping out when they can. There has not been a single moment of grumbling from anyone about the mess or other hardships of having the house a construction zone. I am very luck to be married to such a wonderful woman that just rolls with things like this and am very happy with the way Gracie just seems to make the best of everything. Even when I am too busy to play with her and my work too dangerous or complicated to have her help, she finds something fun to do. The other day, it was to lay on the bed and read a story to the pups.
    I would like to thank all of you for putting up with such a monotone theme to the journal every week. I suppose watching the progress is entertaining, but I am really looking forward to getting back to taking adventures in the Keweenaw and reporting back to you all on what we did. So I guess in a month or two, much of the work will be done and there will just be some smaller jobs left to do, so maybe I can start taking a hour or two off in the afternoon to get out and explore. Talk to you all next month!
Good night from the Keweenaw..

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July 21-
    Ahhhh.... That is how I feel right now and how I have felt since Friday evening. We had a pretty good hot and humid stretch from around July 11th to the 19th. Probably not that big of a deal to folks further south and I suppose folks in places like Atlanta, New Orleans and Houston might have even used their heat from time to time, but we were solidly in the 80's most of those days, even flirting with 90 and also had dewpoints in the upper 60's to low 70's. Not this guy's favorite weather by any means. In fact, if I had to say, it is probably my least favorite- especially when I am trying to get outdoor work done.
    It was another very productive week with the addition work. Not long after finishing my entry last Sunday, a friend of the site (and mine) arrived with his wife to help me get some work done. I had to projects in mind for us to do: Either build up the gable end of the current home and get it ready for shingles, or put up the fascia, soffit, siding and trim on the back side of the addition. I really want to pre-stain all the pieces for the outdoor components of the back side of the addition before I put them up, so the gable of the current home it was. 
    I was able to get some of the scaffolding taken down Sunday morning and then Eric helped me take down the rest and get things set up in front of the house not long after he arrived. It always amazes me how involved setting up scaffolding can be- especially when the ground is not perfectly flat. We got that done and then commenced on doing some demolition work, by taking down some of the siding around the dormer and then all of the tongue and groove that was attached to the bottom cord of the trusses and made up the soffit on the front of the house. Nora and Eric's wife Linda helped out by stacking some of the tongue and groove to be re-used in the soffit of the re-done gable and also hauled over the rest of the wood to the wood boiler to use as fuel for it.
    Both Monday and Tuesday were nasty hot and humid and the gable we were working on sits in the full sun by around 10 or 11 am, so we started framing out the new gable wall pretty early Monday morning and finished up by around noon. Tuesday we got the housewrap up, so the gable was pretty much ready for shingles, once the cedar breather is put up. We then moved inside to get out of the heat and humidity to do some things that needed to be done, like prepping the wall between the home and addition to be ready to be opened up in the spots it was going to be. By dinner time on Tuesday, we had all the interior tongue and groove and insulation of the shared wall down and so that wall was ready for demo.
    On Wednesday, Eric and his wife head back home and my deepest thanks to he and his wife for coming all the way up from southern WI to help me out. It was a huge help and a very generous action!  Also on Wednesday, the framers and even the drywallers came over. The framers go busy with an opening from one of the upstairs bedrooms to the upstairs bedroom in the current home. That bedroom in the current home is going to become a craft room, so we thought it might be nice to have a little passageway from that room to the upstairs of the addition, so one could pass through without having to involve any stairs. The drywall crew put up some of the drywall on the first floor, but could not do all of the drywall work that needed to be done because the rough plumbing still needs to be finished up and the openings needed to be done too. So they put in about a half day and then will come back next week to finish up things.
    Thursday was also the day that the main opening between the current home and the addition was done. I had two minor surgeries to go through on Thursday. One was done at around 7 am and then we came home for a few hours, with the other done in the afternoon. By the time we got home from the first surgery, they had already begun to do some bracing of the wall and even opened up a few spots. I was still a little looped up from the anesthesia from the first surgery, so I just sat on the couch in the living room and watched them take out the wall. Things went pretty smoothly and by lunch break, the opening was done, with one last temporary support post to be removed.
    Nora and I have been really anticipating the opening up of that wall ever since construction started. It marked a big turning point in the construction- when two buildings become one. I usually have a pretty good ability to imagine how things will be before they are done and was able to picture how that opening would look to some extent, but it really did take the completion of the project to allow me (and us) to get the full picture. The walls in the cabin were very tall and that allowed us to make the opening very tall (9 feet), so it really combines the two structures well in that spot and does not look too much like a hole was cut in the wall to join the addition- which is what we were hoping for. Here is a shot from the addition looking back into the cabin. I think the blurriness of the shot is appropriate as that is about how my vision was at the time the picture was taken. Here is a shot taken from a little deeper into the addition. A few moments after that picture was taken, we were off to the hospital for surgery number 2.
    Both surgeries went very well and while we don't have the final determination from the pathologist, the second one was to remove a lump from my thumb. The preliminary pathology done was that it was a Giant Cell Tumor, which is a benign tumor and the margins were clear, which means the surgeon removed all of the tumor and it should not grow back. The first was just a biopsy on my esophagus to keep up with any further progression of my Barette's Esophagus. 
    With my thumb being operated on, I laid low Friday and yesterday, not really doing much of anything. I think that was starting to get to me as I had almost a mini-anxiety attack this morning, looking at all that still needed to be done and knowing I had to pretty much sit on the sidelines for a while longer. I did manage to think of a few things I could get done, so around 10:30 this morning I got going on some of the work and worked until around 3:30 this afternoon. The working helped to rid me of the anxiety. Funny how working actually helped me relax!
    Nora and Gracie went strawberry picking yesterday afternoon. It was a perfect afternoon for it, with temps in the 60's and lots of sunshine. Gracie sure loves berry picking and I sure love the fruits of her labor! The strawberries are just about finished up for this season, but the raspberries are coming on strong and should be ready in a week or so. I would also imagine that the blueberries will be starting to be ready for picking in a few weeks and then by the middle to end of August, the black berries will finish off the season.
    As far as the bug report goes, the main issue in the woods has been the mosquitoes. It has been a very wet summer so far. In fact, this is the first summer since we have lived in our current spot that we have not had to water the lawn on the septic field to keep the grass from drying out. Still a few weeks left in the potential watering season, but by the time we get to the middle to end of August, the sun is weak enough and minutes of daylight is low enough that things do not dry out as fast.
    This mornings temp was a wonderful 42 degrees! Not so wonderful if you are trying to do something outdoors at that hour of the day, but sure was a welcomed change from the 70 degree lows we had last week. This Thursday also marks the first day when our average high temperature starts to go down. It is a very slow process at first, but then as we head through the final 10 days of August, we start to lose a degree off of our high temp every 3-4 days. So we still have a good chunk of our summer left, but it won't be long before the nights are getting consistently colder and even a few trees start to lose their deep green color!
Good night from the Keweenaw.. 
July 14-
    Greetings from a muggy Keweenaw. I guess I really should not be complaining too much as most folks reading this are in the same boat as us, but it still does not make it any easier for me to endure. It's funny, when my heart was not pumping too well, the heat and humidity did not bother me as much. I guess that was about the only up side to that condition and quite honestly, I would not want to go back to that condition. So when I go outside and feel that humidity slap me in the face, I just tell myself how lucky I am to have a heart in such good shape again.
    Anyway, the heat and humidity did show up this week and looks to hang around for much of the week ahead. Not a particularly good thing for working outside on the addition, but I guess it is better than having to work in snow or bitter cold.
    We had a very productive week on the addition this week. On Monday I got busy putting up the fascia and soffit on the foyer. I was all alone and trying to wrestle 16 foot long 1 x 8's for the fascia all by myself was quite a challenge. I did make some temporary blocking to help me hold up one end, while I either measured or nailed in the other end, but all told, it probably took me about 2 1/2 hours just to get those boards up! I sure could have used another set of hands to help me, but no such luck on Monday. In the afternoon and evening, I put up the soffits in the same spot and that took much shorter as it did not require me to work around needing an extra set of hands. So by Monday evening, this is the way things looked at the top of the foyer.
    On Tuesday, I had some other things to do and did not do much at all on the addition, but then Wednesday I did get a helper, Owen. He is a local boy who just graduated from Calumet HS and will be heading off to Tech in the autumn. He does have a part time job at a local manufacturing company, but is a very hard worker and is always happy to come over and work with me when he is not at his other job. Anyway, the two of us took care of a few last minute things that needed to be taken care of before the insulation crew came and then spent the rest of the day on Wednesday and all day on Thursday getting the rest of the fascia and soffit up on the first floor roofline. So now all that work on the first floor roof is done and I am happy with the way it came out and looks
    On Friday, the spray foam crew showed up and did their thing (more on that in a bit) and I got onto putting up the cedar shingles on the gable end of the screened in porch. It was my first go around with putting up cedar shingles. I have seen it done and also read up on how to do it in some construction books and a few internet sites and the bottom line is, I was not doing anything too tricky with it, so it was not rocket science. Lots of cutting to match the slope of the roof, which made for slow going, but once I hit the main field where the shingles did not need to be cut, I could fly. It took me all afternoon and evening on Friday, but after a few dozen trips to the saw to make the cuts, the facade of the screened in porch dormer was done.
    Then yesterday, the goal was to get as much of the facade of the foyer done. The screened in porch area was in the shade for most of the afternoon on Friday, so even though our temps rose into the upper 80's to around 90 and the dewpoint was up near 70, I was able to keep going. The foyer faces south, but is shaded until around 1:15 in the afternoon, so I got an early start on things yesterday, hoping to get a lot done before things potentially got too hot to comfortably work any longer. We had overcast skies yesterday morning and the temps were only in the low 70's. However, the humidity was up there and there was not a lick of wind. I plugged away, but by around 11 am, I needed to go inside and cool off a bit and get re-hydrated and grab a bite to eat. Feeling better, I got back at it and just about the time when the suns rays would pull around the trees and shine on the front of the foyer where I was working, the clouds broke and things started to heat up. However, the winds also picked up a bit and that breeze was just what I needed to allow me to keep going. At about 3:30 I was tacking in the final shingle on the foyer and was then able to stand back and admire my work.
    So a good chunk of the time consuming outside work is done. There are still 2 major projects to do and 2 slightly less major projects to do and then some easier outdoor work to do and all of the outside work will be done. One of the major projects is slated for this week and that is to change the configuration of the facade of the existing front of the house to match the addition. There is a friend of the site headed up as I type that will be here to help me with that for a few days. We may even get started on a bit of the work this evening. I hope to get it all framed out, sheathed and put the window in before he heads back south and then will get to putting the shingles on it when my thumb (which gets operated on this Thursday) allows. The other major job will be to do the fascia, soffit, siding and trim work on the back side of the addition. I will have a helper or two for that for sure, but hope to be able to get it done in 3 days or so.
    As mentioned, the spray foam insulation crew showed up this week on Friday. Initially they thought it would take two days to do, but I think they really wanted to get on to their next project tomorrow, rather than come back here, so they showed up with a pretty big crew and got most of the work done Friday. There is still a bit of work that needs to be done and a guy will be coming tomorrow to finish things off, but it was cool to take breaks from doing the shingles on the porch to watch them do the foam. 
    It's a pretty straight forward operation that starts out with them making sure all the areas to be sprayed are ready for the foam. Then they put up plastic on anything that should not get any foam on it, including the windows, doors, floors and even my service panel for my electric. Then one guy uses a gun to spray the foam into the cavities needing the insulation. The foam expands quite a bit and he only needed to spray the same area 2-3 times and it was fully filled. Once the foam has set up, then another person comes along with a reciprocating saw and a 3 foot blade and trims the foam flush with the studs. Then they come along with a hand scraper and scrape off any foam from the studs, so that they are perfectly clean of foam. The final two attentions to detail is to go through and seal up any small areas missed by the main foam application with a can of spray foam and then even go through and seal up all the joints between the studs with caulk to stop any air infiltration. If you builders out there are wondering why in the heck I had 4 wall studs all in a row like that, it is where the beams that support the foyer roofing sit on at the front wall.
    So the bottom line is that we now have absolutely no air gaps in our insulation or, just as importantly to Nora, no gaps where critters like mice can get in through. All the air space behind each electrical box is completely sealed off, so no more trickles of cold air through the outlets and switches. Yesterday and today I could even notice the difference the insulation made as the inside of the addition was cooler than it was outside. Heck, once I get to working inside full time, I may just set up some portable AC in there to make it nice and comfy! It is also cool to see all the wall and ceiling cavities all sealed up, helps us to imagine what things will look like when it is finally all done.
    Needless to say there was not a lot of playing done this week! I am not complaining a bit as I have really put my game face on as far as getting this addition done and am buoyed by the progress made this week and the outlook for more this week. Now that the addition is all sealed up, the openings between the existing home and the addition will be made, so the two structures will suddenly become one. That will be both cool and weird. So far we have even been calling the addition the "new home" more than the addition, as it really has seemed more like a separate home. Also, one of the two big projects left on the outside should get knocked off. Then a few days of little to no work to let the thumb heal a bit and then get back at it. The hope was to be done with most of the major stuff by the end of August or early September and it still looks like that goal could be attained.
    I can report that the berry season has officially been kicked off. The strawberries have been available for picking or just purchasing for about 10 days now and we picked up around 10 quarts the other day. Most of them were frozen to be used later, but I think we have polished off a few quarts of those that were not frozen. There are few things better tasting (and probably better for you) than fresh picked strawberries. I love the fact that they ALL are at the peak of ripeness and not different stages due to shipping issues. Just a big bowl of fresh, ripe berries. Ok, gotta sign off so I can get me a bowl!
Good night from the Keweenaw..


July 7-
    Unfortunately I need to start out this weeks entry on a sad note. This past week I received an e mail from a friend of the site stating that her husband, a big fan of the site, passed away in a tragic accident this past May 25th. Jeff attended several of the Ride-ins and I had the pleasure to ride with both he and his wife at one of the past Ride-ins. Out of the tragedy comes some good. They are setting up a memorial fund to offer a scholarship in his name at a local technical college and also making a donation to a camp for children of police officers killed on duty. 
    One of the main fund raisers will be a golf outing August 11th held down in my old stomping grounds of Lake Lawn Lodge in Delevan WI. I used to work at the marina there in my early college years. I sure wish that I could coordinate a visit to my moms with this golf event, but just have too much going on this summer. I have sent a donation to the event and it would make me proud to know that others from this site would contribute what they can, perhaps even get together to sponsor a hole or form some 4-somes!
Here is a pdf file with more info on the event
    Up this way, it has been a busy week. The 4th of July is always a huge deal up here in the Keweenaw. Loads of folks with family ties come home to visit and it is also the traditional kick-off to the main tourism season. The weather cooperated, with beautiful conditions. The week started out chilly, with a record low tied Tuesday morning at 40 degrees. By Thursday we were into the 80's and peaked out at 88 degrees yesterday. The humidity arrived yesterday and is really cranking today, with dewpoints near 70. I did well with everything until the humidity hit and then was not comfortable at all. We do have the air conditioner going in the house and things are very comfortable inside, but I did not last too long doing work outside today. Just 2 hours this morning and then an hour or so this afternoon.
    From the image from the web cam, it looks like not much happened this week, but just about everything happened inside. The main goal was to be all set for the spray foam insulation crew to come and do their work next week. That involved me putting up the ceiling in the foyer and the drywall guys putting up the ceiling on the second floor so that the foam can be sprayed down onto them. I also put up the rest of the venting pieces so that the foam can be sprayed up onto it in the rest of the ceiling. 
    I also fixed a few of the electrical items that needed to be done and so we are now all set for the spray foam to get done. I was hoping that it would get done the first thing this week so that I could keep all my scaffolding up inside and just get on with the rest of the tongue and groove on the ceiling and then do the walls, but it looks like they spray foam crew will not be showing up until Friday. So I have moved some of the scaffolding outdoors and plan to do some work on the front of the house this week. So perhaps there will be a bit more action on the cam this week- weather permitting.
   The other bit of work done this week was to prepare Grace's bike for the big 4th of July parade in Mohawk. It was a team effort, with all three of us working on it, but in about an hours time, we had it all decked out and ready to go and here is Gracie showing it off.
    Once that was done, it was time for some fun, so we got a little campfire going and put on our own little fireworks show. It stays light until around 11 pm this time of the year and with me starting my work day at just after 4, there was no way I was going to make it to darkness to light off the fireworks, but Grace had lots of fun watching them go off just the same. She also enjoyed playing with some sparklers.
    Then on the fourth, it was up and Adam to get ready for all of the festivities. I took the pups for our morning walk, while the girls got all snazzied up for things. Here is a shot of Grace all decked out for the 4th. We then headed to town to get ready for the parade. Here is Grace in front of her bike with her special 4th of July helmet on. That was Nora's handiwork and we have received some calls from some of the stage production managers at Vegas to see if Grace would like to come be part of their shows.
    I really like the parade and then games they do for the kids in Mohawk on the 4th. In most of my daily travels around town during the week, I see mainly elderly folks. I do enjoy their company and like to chat with them, but I also have worried about what will become of our community in 15-20 years when they are no longer around. Well, seeing all the children and their young parents reassures me that the community will be around for many, many years to come.
    So after a few hours at the park, we returned home, only to find that Huck and Millie had gotten a little lonely while we were gone and were laying at the front door with Furby keeping them company. I can only imagine what happened when one of them put it in their mouth and it suddenly woke up and started moving and talking. That would have been a funny thing to see.
    So that just about gets you caught up on things up here. It looks like our humidity will break in the next 12-24 hours and then temps will even settle into the low 70's for mid week. I know I am looking forward to that, especially because of the outdoor work I will be doing this week. I really need to try and get as much done this week as I can because next week I have one biopsy to be done on Wednesday to just keep tabs on my Barettes esophagus and then another biopsy to be done on my left thumb on Thursday to remove a mass that they are about 99% sure it is benign, but the only way to tell for sure is to remove it and examine it under a micro scope. The thumb surgery will likely keep me from doing too much work for 4-5 days at least and the sand is flowing through the hourglass! I will likely get some help from a local high school boy or two when it comes time to do the siding and then the tongue and groove inside, but anyone that wants to come on up and swing a hammer can feel free to! 
    Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..


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