June 29-
    Many areas claim to be the source region of the saying: "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute". I do not know where the first time that phrase was used, but I do know that there are a plethora of locations around the world where it rings true and the Keweenaw is certainly no exception. However, when it comes to having both the worst summer weather and the best summer weather, I think that the Keweenaw would vie for both of those distinctions.  When our weather in the summer gets ugly, it can get really ugly. Try upper 40's, battleship gray skies, stiff east winds and a steady rain on for size. Then wait just a few days and we are sporting cobalt blue skies, temps in the 70's, comfortable humidity levels and a gentle breeze.
    Such has been the case this summer. We have had more than our fair share of temps in the 40's with clouds, rain and strong east winds. The temps in the 40's are courtesy of the east winds and the effect the lake has on the air temps. We have also had days in the 70's, with sunshine and comfortable humidity, although most locals would admit that we have not had enough of those picture perfect summer days so far. So far...
    The pattern does look to be changing and the presence of the east winds does not look to be as prevalent as it has been for the past 2 months. We even had our first legitimate hot and humid day yesterday, with a high of 87 and dewpoints in the upper 60's to low 70's. It did not come as much of a surprise though and we were prepared with air conditioners put in place. We really did not need then until later in the day and even at that, just one window unit in an upstairs window of the "cabin"  was all we needed to keep things comfortable until it was time to sleep, then I did run a portable unit that vents through the window in the bedroom, although it did not need to be on the cooling cycle for too long. 
    I realize that it was just a 1-2 day spell of warm/hot and humid air, as Friday saw low 80's and dew points in the mid 60's, but the addition never really "heated up" that much. So I am glad that we went the extra mile to use the spray foam insulation, as well as getting rid of all the windows and doors on the west wall. Both of them look to have reduced our need for AC to almost nothing. Today is cooler and the humidity is dropping, so it looks like we will be free from the need for AC for most of this week.
    So that was the weather report. As for the bugs... it is a mixed signal. The blackflys have been gone for a few weeks now. The mosquitos were dropping off until rains last weekend and some showers this week, then a whole new crop was born. Perhaps not as bad as the initial round, but still worse than is typical. I have just recently gotten wind of what I think are the "ankle biters" at some of the beaches. If true, then they would be about 2 weeks late and also if true, then take my word, do not go to the beaches! The good news is that the ankle biters only last for around 2 weeks. I have also experienced a few horse and deer flies, but nothing too bad, at least not yet.
    In regular every day life, when I last left off, I was talking about how the pool was up, but because of the weather was too cold to swim in. Well, about 10 minutes after finishing that entry, Gracie asked if she could go swimming. Nora and I both said yes, but that the water was going to be cold. Of course we were saying this to a girl that was swimming in Lake Superior while ice chunks could still be seen floating off shore, so I guess all things are relative. 
    Anyway, we pulled the cover off the pool. I checked the temp and it was around 63. Far too cold for this old dog, but not so for Gracie. She was excited to try out her new mermaid fins. I am sure it is the case with loads of little girls, but she is very fascinated by mermaids and likes to pretend she is one. So in she went. A few quick breaths as she first hit the water, but then was swimming around like it was bath water
    I got the heater going Wednesday morning and by Thursday afternoon the water temp was 80-81, within the realm of when I will go in. So Nora, Gracie and I went for our first swim as a family, although I think both Nora and I only went in as far as was needed to stand in the pool. By Friday the temp was around 86-87 and peaked out at 94 during the heat of the day yesterday. Even with the heater off since yesterday afternoon, the pool temp was 88 today. So since Friday, we have been spending a lot of time in the pool. Every time the raft I was floating on would drift around and point me in the direction of the addition, I would think of the crazy, crazy summer of work I had last year. I sure do like this summer better!
    We also took a walk in the woods this week. It was on a trail that I have never been on and I don't know if it was the excitement of being on a trail I have never been on, or how beautiful and unique some of the features were on it, or both, but I really enjoyed the walk. There were a few bugs, but it was not too bad.
    The trail started out as most do, just a worn path through the trees. Then we encountered a little creek meandering through the woods that added an element of tranquility. The next element was a small pond and some landscaping features like a stone walkway and small footbridge. We opted to take the trail that brought us to the "Jacobs Creek Gorge". I had never heard of this feature and was thinking it was probably not a very big gorge, but was still very interested to discover it. I must say that it started out fairly timidly, but in a short distance grew to be probably 50-70 feet deep and 150-200 feet across.
    The footpath appeared to lead all the way down to where the creek crosses Hwy 26 near the Jampot, but it was also a pretty steep descent and the thought of having to chug all the way back up to make the return trip to get back did not seem all that intriguing at the moment, so we decided to turn around and head back to the trail head. All in all, it was a beautiful little hike in the woods, and sometime when we have more time and energy, we will follow the footpath all the way down to the highway. Perhaps even start there, so the return trip will be all down hill.
    So that just about covers it for this one. This week will be the preparation for the 4th of July holiday weekend. There will be a bike to decorate and then fireworks down in Lake Linden on the 3rd to attend and then the bike parade and games in Mohawk on the 4th. Then hopefully some more floating in the pool. I hear that the strawberry crop is getting close to being ripe and I have seen a few wild strawberries that were close to ripe for picking. Then it will be the blueberry and raspberries time, followed by the blackberry. We do have quite a healthy crop of thimbleberries in the making, but I am not much of a fan of them.
    So fun times in the Keweenaw, a little sad to think that in around 2 months, summer will be singing its swan song. Of course if we have a bunch more hot/humid days like yesterday, then perhaps not so sad!
Good night from the Keweenaw..

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June 23-
    So I am back... Can you tell anything different in this entry?  Ha, ha, I doubt it, but this is the first journal- since moving up from Lake Linden, that has been written on high speed internet via cable. Yep, the install at the road was completed last week and then the connection between the road and our house was done today. It is probably going to take me a few days to get used to the idea that I do not have to worry about how much bandwidth I use. It has basically been ingrained in my browsing habits for the past 7 1/2 years. Although I must say that one of the first things I did was make a desktop icon to a streaming radio station that I like to listen to. It is out of Thunder Bay and I can even pick it up in my truck on the regular radio when I am in the higher terrain up here. 
    I also already love the new speeds. It has only been hooked up for around 2 hours, but some of the sites I go to get satellite and model info are so fast, it seems like they were not even downloaded. I have a business account with the internet, so we pay a bit more, but have speeds of 60Mbs, which is about twice the average cable speed and around 10 times faster than I had with the cell service.
    So, you all will not likely notice much of a difference, other than the AL Cam and Woods Cam will now be updating every 60 seconds. I still need to fix the network connection to the shop to get the woods cam going, but might even do that this evening. I might even see about another cam for up here if I can think of a good, yet not invasive location.
    It was a shortened, but still busy week last week, as we got back home on Monday evening. Got unpacked and did a little catch-up. On Tuesday, I did some more catch up and then got ready to put the pool up. This will be the final year with this above ground pool we have. It has served its purpose well, but as Gracie gets older, I know she is going to want something bigger. I wish we could justify putting in a nice in-ground pool, but the reality of it is, without spending a fortune heating the pool, we only get around 3 months of use up this way. I suppose if we ever win the lottery, then we will put in a nice in-ground with some kind of an enclosure that can be rolled over for inclement or cold weather and then rolled back to expose the pool to the nice summer weather. 
    Anyway, there are three trees that were blocking some of the mid-afternoon sunshine from the current setup and will be in the way with the future pool set up, so I came up with the idea to remove them before I put up the pool for this year. I got clearance from management, fired up the Still and also brought Big Red in to help. I suppose I did not really need to use BR for all we did, but it really did help out with things a bunch and turned some nasty work into work that was almost fun. Its first task was to apply pressure on one side of the tree to help the tree fall in the direction I chose. I am pretty good at notching and felling a tree, I have yet to have one go where I did not want it to, but a little extra insurance is nice! All three went right where I wanted to and in the course of around 10 minutes, they were all down and Millie was ready to get any squirrel that had been taunting her and then running up them. No such luck for Mills.
    The next step was to de-limb them and cut them into manageable pieces for the wood boiler. This was the second part where Big Red came in handy. We loaded up the bucket and then drove the logs over to the boiler and dumped them. The final step was to take all the tops that we (Nora mostly) had put into piles and load them into the back of the truck to be hauled over to a spot I have for brush. So I swapped out the bucket for the forks and used them to lift the tops into the back of the truck. That was probably the sweetest part of the whole operation. We had two big brush piles. The first one was completely picked up and unloaded with one scoop of the forks. The second pile was almost completely picked up by the forks, but a few branches were left behind. The unload also took some straightening out, but was still far easier and faster than doing it all by hand. As I was taking this next shot, I thought it would make a good one of those "caption this". The two I came up with were..."you might be a redneck..." or "Keweenaw Kamo- Summer edition". Needless to say I did not have to go onto the main roads with this load!
    So Wednesday afternoon I was able to put the pool up and start filling it. It holds around 4400 gallons and it takes around 8 hours to fill. By the time it was time to go to bed it was only around 1/4 full, so I turned down the flow of water out of the hose a bit and by morning, there was just a few more inches to fill and by mid-morning it was full. 
    On Thursday, the sun was shining brightly and temps were in the upper 60's. Almost pool weather, but the water temp was around 60 degrees (up from 52 when it came out of the hose). So we did not swim, but Gracie still wanted to play outside, so we ended up playing with the hose a bit and soon she was asking me to squirt her while she drove around in her truck. Now what guy would not pass up the opportunity to squirt water out of a hose at a 4 year old, right? She had a blast, but soon started up coming up with ways to defend herself. First by using the lid off an old copper tub and then by adding the protection of a basket to the mix. Despite the fact that she was still having fun and did not want me to stop, I was starting to feel a little guilty soaking her with that cold hose water, so I decided to improve her armament a bit and pulled out the rubber jacket I use when going on a wet ATV ride. It was big enough to protect both her top and bottom half and extended our play time to dinner.  
    Soooo... After dinner it was my turn to suit up and become the target for the stream of water. No problem. I also had a pair of rubberized pants and some knee-high water proof boots to keep me protected. I came out of the shop to this. 'Twas a look of pure revenge. So I promptly went back into the shop for one more piece of protection and was then tossed into the thick of battle. It worked OK, but there was a spot right under my chin where water could sneak by and get my chest and shirt wet and even though the rubberized suit kept me dry, the coldness of the water could actually be felt through it. So I braved it out, or maybe cowered it out for as long as I could and finally gave in. She won.
    Friday's high was 48 degrees! and we had rain. Not pool weather. Saturday was not much better, with a high of 57 and some rain. Sunday was a touch better, but the forecast was for more rain the first half of this week, so I have kept the heater off and the pool has just sat there with no one wanting to play with it. No sense in trying to heat it against the cold and rain. Wednesday mornings low is suppose to be in the upper 40's and then warmer and mostly sunny weather is seen, so the plan is to start heating it as the temps warm Wednesday and it should be ready to go by Thursday afternoon.
    On Saturday I finally started working on the kitchen drawers and doors. Funny how, other than the foundation, the first thing that was started with the addition/remodel will be the last finished, but I am glad that I get to finish with something that I love and will be best be done without having to be rushed. 10 more drawers to make and then probably around a dozen doors and we can call it a wrap!
    That is about all that is going on up this way, but there is some pretty special and important things going on about 400 miles south of here. My brother was diagnosed with leukemia back in May of 2013. He went into remission in the autumn of 2013, but then it returned this past April. So things were put in motion to do a bone marrow stem cell transplant. When he was first diagnosed, all of our family and many of his friends took the test to see if they were a match and my sister ended up being a very good match. So about 2 weeks ago she traveled from OK to southern WI to donate her bone marrow stem cells and tomorrow they will be transplanted into my brother. As with many things in life, there are no guarantees the transplant will be successful, but because my sister was about as good a match as there can be, there is a good chance the transplant will be successful and will then rid my brother of his leukemia forever!
    My sister has created a Facebook page to chronicle the process of being a donator. She is doing this with the hope that as many people as possible will read it and understand what is involved. The test is a simple swab of the inside of your mouth. The donation is very similar to giving blood. You can be a match to just about anyone, not just your family member. If you are a match to someone, you will likely save their life and you do not even need to be in the same locale as the recipient. I had a friend that lives in S. WI and was a donator for someone in Germany. So I invite you to check out her Facebook Page, like it, share it with your friends to spread the word and consider taking the test and get your info into the donators data base so that you could have the opportunity to save a life.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
June 22-
    Battling a big of a stomach bug, so will hope to write tomorrow. - John
June 15-
    No problem to start this week's entry...Happy Fathers Day dads! Hope you all are being well taken care of and are having a great day.
    It was another coolish week, with even some reports of snow flurries Thursday night in Laurium, but also kind of dry until Friday and the weekend, so the bug population dropped off noticeably. The blackfly population has gone down to a point where they are not much of an issue. One or two will still bother me if I am sitting still in the woods long enough, but nothing like they were a few weeks ago. The mosquitoes also dropped off quite a bit, I think because of both the dry weather and the fact that early morning temps were in the 30's for much of the week. Hopefully the drop in the population of them will lead to a lower number the rest of the season.
    The cool mornings were very nice for the morning walks that the pups and I take every day. A light jacket is needed, but because it is so cool, the bugs do not bother me or the pups. I am dreading the time when the deerflies come out, as they always bother the pups on our walks and I have to wear one of those fishing caps with the flaps on the back to keep them from bothering me. They love to land on the back of my head or neck to bite.
    Gracie had her first ever eye exam this past Monday. One of the things she needed to have done to start school this autumn. She was a little nervous as most of her doctor appointments up to this point have included shots. Both Nora and I did do our best to tell her no shots and that it would probably be pretty fun for her as she would get to look at pictures, letters and numbers and tell the doctor what she saw and that was it. She ended up having a great time (pretty much they way she handles everything in her life) and passed with flying colors.
    Other than that, it was not a very exciting week up this way. The big excitement for me was the fact that a utility installation company arrived to help bring cable to our residence. The main reason for getting cable it to improve our internet service. I rely 100% on the internet to do all of my work, so both reliability and speed is important. The speed we have had through the cell tower was OK, but the reliability was a big issue. For some reason, the data side of our cell service had a history of going down every 30-60 days and some times would take a few days to come back up. It sure made life difficult for me when it was out.
    So I was able to convince the cable company to bring the line the 800 feet from my neighbors house to us. I have to pick up the tab and it will not be cheap, but the money we will save in monthly fees will pay for the installation in less than 3 years. The speed will be blazing fast and around 10 times the speed of our current service, we will not have a download limit and most importantly, it will be very reliable. 
    A subcontractor came out to pull the line from my neighbors to our house and I was surprised at all they did. I was thinking that they would just use a trenching machine to burry the cable along side the road, but they actually used a horizontal drilling machine to drill a hole under the ground the whole way and then pulled 2" PVC through that drilled out hole and run the cable through it. We will also have a service pedistal at the road for our service and they dug out for that too. So hopefully this week the cable company will come out and get us all hooked up. I know I am looking forward to listening to some internet radio and being able to watch youtube type videos without any guilt of running up a big bill and I am sure that we will get signed up with things like Netflix or some of the other downloadable movie services. Plus we will be able to facetime with my mom and other family members. 
    Speaking of my mom and other family members...Nora, Gracie, the pups and I all snuck out of town on Thursday morning to head down to my moms place. My older brother is having a bone marrow stem cell transplant to get rid of his leukemia and my sister is his match for the donation. She lives in OK and came up for the procedure and some other family members were here, so it has been a nice time hanging out with them the past few days. Plus the views from the front deck are pretty nice too.
    The pups like going to "Grandmas" because they get to hunt and chase all the gray squirrels that hang out around the house, plus do cannon balls of of her pier into the lake. Gracie also has tons of fun visiting with her grandma, aunts and uncles. She also got to go swimming in water that was a lot warmer than Lake Superior and even swam with the pups, riding them in like dolphins. I had a birthday on Friday, so got to hang out with family for that too and have Gracie make sure I made a wish before I blew out my candles. Not only was the 13th my birthday, but was also a Friday and also a full moon. I don't really get into too many things astronomy-wise, but I guess it is quite rare to have a full moon happen on a Friday the 13th. So Nora took a nice picture of the "Honey Moon" over Lake Geneva Friday evening.
    On March a little guy named "Aric" was born to my Nephew and his wife. I have only been able to see pictures of him up to this point, but on Friday, we all got to meet him, including Gracie. I was interested to see how Gracie would respond to little Aric. I did not worry at all that she would be good around him, but was happy to see her do exactly what we said she could and could not do and even got to hold him. My nephew is a captain in the Army and is currently in Afghanistan, so the highlight of the time spent with Aric was watching him interact with his dad via the video-chat service, facetime. I am sure he knew just who he was watching and talking to, as his eyes never came off him.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. Have a great week!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
June 8-
    Sometimes just starting these journal entries can be a bit of a chore. Today is one of those times. Nothing jumps right out at me to open with. The weather was pretty non eventful. We slipped back into more of a typical pattern for the Keweenaw in early June. Temps in the 50's and 60's and a few 70's. To tell you the honest truth, I really did not mind the days when we only topped out in the 50's for highs. Sort of just re-enforced the idea that we live in a far northerly climate. Of course 70's and sunshine is pretty nice too!
    As much as I love the snow, I am glad that we are done with it for a few months. Such was not the case in the mountains of NW WY overnight, where a dusting of snow occurred in the Togwotee area. Of course it can also warm into the 60's there as soon as the afternoon following an overnight snow and they NEVER have humidity, so I could take their climate as well.
    Anyway, other than around 2" of welcomed rain falling Monday, the weather was pretty uneventful. I spent most of the week traveling between the house and the woodshop. This week was "make the thresholds" week. I had 14 total to make and because of the different floor type junctions at some of the doorways and other unique things, none of the 14 were the same! So I had lots of custom work to do, plus I had to concoct a custom stain to match the flooring that we put in. All in all things turned out pretty well. Here is a shot of a section of the transition from the slate in the foyer to the wood laminate of the great room. Here is the threshold for the sliding door to the screened porch. Here is the threshold for Gracie's bedroom door.
    Of course I had some help with making the thresholds, my two supervisors were always close by to make sure things were being done right. It's pretty cool, I use the word "shopdogs" to tell them we are heading to the shop and they know just what that means. They then just hang out and relax in the shop while I work. It's kind of a dream of mine to have a woodshop in the Northwoods, building things in it with a pair of labradors to keep me company. I am glad that they like to hang out with me. If I am doing something that is going to be particularly loud, I either leave them in the house or have them hang out in the front shop (there are some heavy duty plastic hanging curtains separating the two shops) to avoid the loud noise.
    I can also say what a relief it is to not have to work like a banshee this summer. When I look back to last summer and the schedule I kept to get what I had to get done, I wonder how I survived. This summer I am working at a dedicated pace, as I do want to finish up as soon as I can, but I am also working at a much more relaxed pace as well as taking a day off if I am just not feeling like doing any work at all. With the thresholds done, all that is left is the doors and drawers in the kitchen and once I get going on them it should not be more than a weeks work to get them done.
    Nora and Gracie have been in Marquette hanging out and shopping with one of Nora's friend since Friday, so it has just been the pups and I. It worked out pretty well, as I was able to spend just about all of the weekend getting the thresholds wrapped up and also did a few other things. One of them was to clean out the jets in the tub. They say to do that every few weeks and it had been a few weeks. So I followed the instructions, filling up the tub and putting some bleach in the water. I turned on the jets and then shot out into the shop to do a few things while the jets ran the suggested 5-10 minutes. When I came back in to drain and flush the tub, I got a funny surprise. Now that's a bubble bath! Not sure how that happened, other than there must have been some bubble bath or soap in the jet system, as I have never seen that happen before while cleaning it. In any case, all the bubbles stayed inside the tub area and dissipated around 10 minutes after I shut off the valves. Tub is clean!
    The last bit of news I have is that the Laurium Glacier finally melted yesterday! I went into daily-check mode this week as it got closer and closer. This year it became a real challenge, because the melting took place so late, the trees in the area were filling in and helped to hide the remaining snow. On Wednesday, there was still enough snow to see pretty well, but by Friday, I actually had to get out of the truck and look closely to see the snow. By Saturday morning, there was just a tiny bit, but our temps only rose into the low 50's all day and we also had a heavy overcast, so I could not assume it melted Saturday and drove by it late in the afternoon and saw no snow. So June 7th was the melt date this year, a new record and probably one that will stand for a while.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. I did not spend much time out in the woods this week. Both the rains and the bugs were enough to keep me indoors for much of the week. However, it does look like we are beyond the worst of it for the blackflies. They are still around and still can make life miserable, but it seems to take longer for the warm to arrive and the swarm is not as bad as it was a week ago. So they look to be following their typical pattern of popping out in just a few days, hitting peak around 4-6 days after being first seen and then slowly easing off until they are gone for good around 4 weeks after first appearing. So we have 2-2 1/2 weeks and they should not be much of an issue at all. That will make the woods and beaches a lot more fun!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
June 1-
    Welcome to Summer! Yea, I know, summer does not start until June 21st, right? If you have been reading this journal long enough, you know us meteorologist folks like to be different and classify summer as June 1-August 31. Seems to make more sense from a weather stand point. Besides, why make the first day of summer the day before the minutes of daylight start to get shorter?
    Anyway, we have had summer weather up this way for the past week and everything has turned GREEN! It is just amazing how we can go from basically bare trees just a few days ago to a nearly filled out forest today (that pic was taken just a few moments ago). The leaves have not opened completely, but in a few more days they will. We are also getting some rain today. The first precip since the snows of May 16th.
    Backing up a bit, we had some nice warm temps last Monday (Memorial Day), so the Dee clan all headed to the beach in the afternoon. While the air temps were in the low 80's, the water temp was in the mid 30's. Both Nora and I dipped our toes into the water and just about jumped out of our shorts! The cold did not stop Gracie. She started out a bit timidly, wading up to her knees, but soon was fully immersed in the water and found the fun activity of riding the pups like a couple of dolphins. Nora and I were just beside ourselves on how she could stay in that near freezing water for so long. She was not fully immersed the whole time, but never really got completely out of the water either. Things were going swimmingly (pun intended), until she missed her ride home one time. The water was still shallow enough for her to touch bottom, but as soon as Millie swam off, I could tell that something was not right, so I did my best David Hasselhoff/Baywatch imitation and went out to retrieve her. Thankfully the water was not deep enough to reach the most sensitive parts of my anatomy, but I have to admit, in the 20 seconds or so that it took me to walk out there to get Gracie and bring her in, my legs were cramping painfully. So I suspect that Gracie just had too much cold and did not realize it until it was too late and her legs just would not work. No blood, no foul. We did pack it up and head home after that episode. Gracie was able to get into dry clothes before we even left the beach and then sit in the sun when we got home and was no worse for wear. She was not even phased by the experience, although I do believe she respects cold water a bit more!
    Yesterday we rose to 84 degrees, so we all headed to the beach again. This time to one of our favorites on the east shore. Last week I mentioned how the water level of the big lake was up 16" from last year at this time and was also 3" above the long term average. It had been lower than average for the past few years and so it was kind of weird to go there and not have as much beach to work with, but there was still enough and we had a good time. 
    Gracie and the pups once again took to the water, but Gracie did so in a more conservative manner. Likely due to her Memorial Day experience, but also possibly due in part to the fact that there were still a few icebergs floating just off shore about 1/4 mile. The camera in my phone did not capture them, but trust me, they were there! Even though air temps were in the mid 80's inland, right up along the lake shore, they were in the mid 60's. Combine that with the fact that the sun was popping in and out of the clouds and that provided for some chilly conditions for someone wearing just shorts and a t-shirt (namely me). Nora asked me why my legs were purple and I replied because I was cold! So while we hoped to spend a few hours out at the beach, we ended up leaving in around 50 minutes. Still plenty of time for the pups to get in some great exercise and Gracie to have fun as well.
    On Friday, I got another opportunity to fire up Big Red. About 10 years ago, I picked up a used snowmobile trailer. At the time I did not have a truck and it came in handy for moving the sled(s) around. However, ever since I have had a pickup, I have used the bed of the truck to transport the sled. Usually easier to load, secure and most importantly...it stays way cleaner. So the trailer was used to help transport building materials around from time to time, but mostly just sat unused. So when Dave was over a few weeks ago when we went ATV riding, I mentioned how I wanted to get rid of it and he was happy to take it off my hands. It had become damaged this past winter due to the excessive snow load on it, but Dave has plans to either repair the damage, or possibly part it out to make a new trailer out of some other trailer parts he has or maybe even use the frame to make a sled-bed for the back of his truck. In any case, we were able to use the forks on Big Red, along with some chain to pick up the trailer and load it onto a 3 place he had and just like that, we were relieved of what to do with the trailer, as well as a bit of an eyesore.
    I cannot remember (stinks to get old) which evening, but on one of them this week we found it to be nearly perfect for taking an ATV ride. So we mounted the rear seat setup on one and then took off for a ride. Gracie and I lead on one bike, with Nora following. I am glad we were leading as things had gotten pretty dry and there was lots of dust. However, there were also a few sections where some fun in the mud could be had.
    On Wednesday evening, the screens for the porch came in, so Thursday and Friday I got them installed. I did not beat the arrival of the bugs. Both the black flies and mosquitoes arrived in force this week. Neither were too bad in the morning, but by the evenings, you really took your life into your own hands by being outside for too long. 
    An interesting thing happened as the screens were going in. With a few in and a few openings still open, the bugs started to actually accumulate in the porch. Yesterday we hit the plateau as all the windows were screened in, but the doorway was still open. I spent the morning in the shop with Gracie making the screen door, but when Nora and went in to install the door, the porch was filled with black flies! We made short order of getting rid of them by sucking them up into a shop-vac. Nora then helped me install the screen door and the porch was finally done!  There is actually still a few more battens I have to put up on the outside, but the inside is all ready for hanging out in and I liked how the screen door turned out as well.
    In fact, once we were all done with things, I got most of my construction tools out of it and Nora, Grace, the pups and I hung out in it yesterday evening. It was so nice to just sit there, safe and sound from the bugs and listen to all the critters in the woods. The pups were a little fired up to go and chase the critters at first, but soon found their groove and just chilled. Nora and Grace put up a humming bird feeder last week and we have had a few visitors to it since. Two have been regulars, they are a male and female and likely have a roost not too far away, as they seem to come and go pretty frequently. We have also had a pair of robins build a nest in the spot lights on the front of the shop. I swear they built most of it in just a day about 10 days ago. At first I had thought about removing it as I was worried about the lights possibly causing it to catch fire and also the fact that the front of the shop sees lots of action with us coming and going from it, but then just decided to leave it and let the chips fall where they may. I did cut the power to the lights though- just to be safe. The momma must have laid her eggs just a few days ago, as she has become less reluctant to fly off when we pass by. 
    So the bugs are here in full force. Any hopes of this being a mild black fly season have gone by the wayside, but in a few more weeks, they will be on the way out. Mosquitoes are only bad in the mornings or evenings or when really cloudy. The ticks are a big story as well. In all of our years of living up here in the woods, this is BY FAR the worst we have ever had them. I have probably pulled at least a half dozen off of me. So fall, all have been crawlers and not suckers and I sure hope it stays that way! I have not pulled any off of Millie yet, but poor Huck has had 3-4 suckers pulled off of him so far. The occurrence of lyme disease is pretty small up here, but is not zero. So in the past we have always just been real good about going over the pups real good after time in the woods. I have always wanted to avoid using chemical solutions on them unless it is really needed and I think this year is the year that it is really needed. Hopefully as things heat up and dry off a bit, the tick numbers will go down.
    My final tidbit to share with you is a Gracie-ism. Every once in a while she comes up with a good one. This latest is a new word for Webster. As Nora was applying sun-block before we headed to the beach yesterday, she was doing her face, when all of the sudden Gracie chimes out: "Ouch!, You poked me right in the snot-stral!" So there is your new word for the day: snot-stral.
Good night from the Keweenaw..


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