May 31, 2015-
    Looking at the date, I feel like I should be wishing you all a happy Memorial Day today, but that was last week. I guess I can wish you a happy last day of May and last day of meteorological spring.
    It was a pretty uneventful week both in the Keweenaw and in the Dee household. It is graduation time up here, so we have been kind of busy attending open houses or as they were called where I grew up, graduation parties. Three last weekend and three this weekend and I believe we are done for this season. They are fun though and for the most part, the weather has been good for them. At least no pouring rain or bitter cold. It's strange to think that in 12 years, we will be hosting our own graduation party. Today while we were at one, Nora asked Grace if she would rather have a graduation party or go to Hawaii. I think we were both a little surprised when she said the party. Somehow I think we will be able to pull both off. Perhaps just not in the same year.
    While most of the seniors are done, the other students still have some school days to finish up. Gracie and the other kids that go to the Calumet, Laurium, Keweenaw (CLK) schools still have 7 1/2 days left. I think this might be one of the latest that they have had to go, but not because of having to make up snow days. I think it was because they started later and also get more time off around the holidays than before.
    So, if you have not noticed yet, I am really struggling with material this go around. It was both a short week and pretty uneventful one as well. I did get a new rear window ordered up for Big Red. In the mean time we just have some really nice ventilation. As I mentioned in the last entry, Gracie and I did move around the fill that came last week. It would have been nearly impossible without Big Red...or at least a ton of no-fun. With it we were able to get things moved around in about an hour or so and what was once a pretty mucky mess is now a nice, dry and level area
    The small stakes in the ground were just approximating where the pool will go. As you can see, there was a lot of shade in the spot and that picture was taken in the prime time for being in the pool. So this morning, I dropped about a dozen trees that created the shade. The girls then helped by using Big Red to haul some of the cut up pieces to the wood boiler and then we all tossed the tops into the back of the truck to be hauled off to a spot on the property we have for that. The clean up was for just one tree that had to fall onto the driveway. The rest pretty much fell in the woods, or the spot where the pool will go, so I still have quite a bit of cutting and some hauling to do. Then will get a load of sand to put the pool on and some rock to add onto the driveway going to the lean to.
    So it looks we are on good schedule to be ready to put the pool up in around two weeks or so. We would probably do it sooner if it looked like we were going to get into a hot spell. On the flip side, I suppose we would put it off if it looked like cold temps were going to happen. I actually would not mind a warm (not scorching hot) summer so we could make good use of the pool. This will be the first time in 3 years that I will have no urgent projects that need to be done, so will be able to spend as much time in the pool with the girls as I want.
    It looks like the weather this week will be pretty decent, with highs in the 60's and 70's and not too much rain. So the main issue with outdoor activity will be the black flies and mosquitoes. The black flies got bad about a week ago, while the mosquitoes were just starting to get bad. We did get down to 30 last night and look to get down to at least freezing tonight, so perhaps that will knock down the mosquito population a bit. It seems like nothing knocks down the black flies. We just have to wait them out and it will be at least another 2-3 weeks before they are on their way out.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. Talk to you next week, next month and next season! Oh...and...Go BLACKHAWKS!!!

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May 25, 2015-
    Happy Memorial Day everyone! My plan devised yesterday evening worked out perfect. It is pouring rain and has been for most of the day. We are closing in on an inch for the day and will welcome it. We were certainly not bone dry, but everything is trying to green up now and the moisture will help to accelerate that, as well as rid us of the fire danger. Of course the rains will also make the bugs pop. The black flys have already woke up for the season. They were not too bad until yesterday. That was when the accumulated growing degree days must have hit their magic number as anywhere you went in their territory, you were bound to get bombed by them. So far the mosquitoes have not been too bad, but I suspect that will change with this wet weather. In any case, the warm season is officially here!
    I cannot say the same for earlier this past week. Monday we had another cold front blast through and send our temps tumbling. We started the day in the upper 50's, but by the afternoon they were in the low 40's. We woke up to a wet coating of snow Tuesday morning and it continued to snow all day Tuesday. Even though it came down pretty good at times, it is getting pretty late in the season to get much in the way of accumulation. We did whiten things up several times following each heavier period of snow, but I suspect that those snows will be the final dose of Keweenaw Kamo we will see for this season.
    Wednesday gave us some sunshine and temps around 60 and then it was off to the races with temps the rest of the week, with upper 70's and sunshine for Saturday and Sunday. It is a good thing we did not stay cold for too long, as the wood supply is shrinking down to the last few logs. Here is a shot of Millie helping me choose which one to pick to toss in the boiler next. Truth be told, the heat has been off for all but around 30 minutes Tuesday morning, so we are not going through much wood at all and that pile you saw in the previous pic will last us another 2 weeks to keep the boiler going for our domestic hot water. I do have a handful of trees I plan to bring down in the next week or so to get us through the summer and pool heating and then we will be all set for the next load to arrive in the autumn.
    Gracie joined little league this year and we finally had good enough weather to be able to get in her first game this past Thursday. One practice and three games were called due to weather, but Thursday was a beautiful day to play-ball! Her league is comprized of 5 and 6 year olds and it was so much fun to watch. Most of the kids know nothing about what to do and have to be told just about everything. At Gracie's first at-bat, she swung at the first pitch and hit a dandy. I don't recall if it made it out of the infield or not, most hits did not make it past the pitcher. However, she hit it well enough that as she got 3/4ths of the way down the first base line while still holding the bat, had enough time to side track to the dugout to drop off the bat when everyone was yelling at her to "drop the bat" and still make it to first before the ball could be delivered there. She also fielded quite well (including a few put-outs) and I think we might have a ball player on our hands.
    Saturday afternoon, after spending the morning doing some chores, we all piled in the Commander and headed out for a ride. With temps in the upper 70's, we figured it would be a good idea to head to the big lake. A wise choice, as things were beautiful down there. A nice breeze off the lake, blue skies highlighting the blue of the lake and no bugs.
    We had decided to keep it simple and chose the mouth of the Gratiot River for our destination. Upon arrival we were treated to a sight we have never seen before. For as long as I have been living up here (16 years, 10 days and 23 hours!), the river has always dumped straight into the lake. However, this past winters storms and/or ice piled up enough material at the usual mouth to cause the lake to take a 90 degree turn to the west, travel a hundred yards or so before making its turn into the lake. It never ceases to amaze me how nature will make changes to things up here!
    The warmer weather did help our woods to fill out a bit more. The canopy is still not fully filled out yet, but is probably past the half way mark. The ground cover is also starting to fill out, but is less far along. I always breathe a sigh of relief once the floor of the woods is filled out, as that really lowers the fire danger a ton, plus makes everything even more beautiful.
    Nora has most of her plants in the ground and they are off to the races. I took our lawn mower in about 10 days ago to get it repaired. I had been keeping it in the wood shed and a log fell on it this winter and cracked the air shroud on top of it as well as breaking the plastic fitting the oil dipstick went into. It was fixed around mid week last week, but Last week I came down with a stomach bug that hit me like a ton of bricks Tuesday morning and kept me down for most of the week. I was feeling better by later Friday and feel pretty much back to 100%, but did end up having to go get some fluids via IV on Thursday. Not a fun bug to have, but they said it is going around and has been quite severe for some of us luckier ones! Anyway, I plan to pick up the mower tomorrow and get harvesting the first crop of grass when the weather permits this week.
    In around 2 weeks I think we will probably be getting ready to put the pool up. There are some things that need to be done, like dropping a few trees and putting in some fill and then sand where the pool will be going, but I also wanted to move a bit of earth and flatten things out nicely between the lean-to and wood boiler, so yesterday, Gracie and I fired up Big Red and got to doing that. Things were going swimmingly until we were backing up one time and heard this tremendous "bang" come from right behind us. Turning around, we discovered the problem. Yep, that really is part of the rear window sticking into that birch tree! The rear window can swing up to provide airflow and yesterday was a perfect day for that. Well, about all of mine time in the tractor has been in the winter when the window was down, so I was not really in the habit of watching out for it. Guess I will have to get into that habit now! It does not look to be too hard of a fix. Most of the things that attach to it like the hinges, wiper and latch just attach to the window. So it looks to be fairly plug and play, but is also essential, as I will be working in it a lot to get the space for the pool ready and the bugs could get pretty nasty without it! On the plus side, perhaps I have an excuse to give Nora to get a backhoe of my own, as it will protect the rear window when I am backing up!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
May 24, 2015-
    I did not forget to write. With the beautiful weather today and pretty much all day rain forecasted for tomorrow. I figured I would make the most of both and put off being inside on the computer until tomorrow. - John
May 17, 2015-
    It must be the time of the year. Mixed weather...not quiet summer, but not winter either. Seems to throw outdoor activity kind of out of whack. As a result, not a lot of info to share with you this week. I can start out by saying that this last Thursday, the 14th, was the 16th anniversary of my moving to the Keweeenaw! In some ways, it seems like longer and in other ways, it seems like shorter. I can still remember some pretty vivid moments from that move. One of them being going to let Burt and Baileys out the first morning we woke up here and smelling the scent of the pines that were growing on one side of the yard in Lake Linden and thinking; "man, this is what I am going to be able to smell every morning!"
    So here it is, 16 years later and still going strong, with absolutely no desire to leave. I could probably go away for a good chunk of April and maybe even parts of November, but would never want to be gone for too long.
    As mentioned, we have had a bit of everything this week as far as weather goes. Some rains on Monday that became a cold rain Monday evening, with temps only in the upper 30's. By Tuesday, it was cold enough for snow. The snow did not accumulate in most cases, although I did have to drive down to Calumet and some of the pine trees had some minor accumulation in the afternoon. By Wednesday, we bounced back into the mid 50's and the rest of the week became more summer like.
    Pretty much all of the snow has gone, with just a few of the larger piles made by man still sticking around. The exception to the natural snow gone for the season is of course the Laurium Glacier. That last shot was taken on Thursday and was the "south glacier". As it melts, it typically breaks into two separate snow fields and here is the "north glacier". While smaller in that shot, the north glacier is typically the one that lasts longer. So we will see this year. Judging by the size, I would say right around a week left.
    With the warmer air by the end of the week, Nora had gotten to planting some of her flowers and it did not take long for some of the locals to discover them and take a sip. All of the plants can still be brought in to the shop for protection if a frost is seen. The local plants are still holding pretty tight to their buds, with worries that we might still have a hard freeze or two. I suspect that in another week, those trees will be letting their buds go wide open.
    The ticks have decided to come out in full fashion. I have pulled three off of me, thankfully none of them has become attached. Poor Millie is a different story. We have pulled several off of her and they were attached. We take them into the vet next week, so I am going to talk to them about possibly using a preventative. So far we have been lucky and never had too many problems, but this season is way different.
    Yesterday they had a volunteer clean up for the Village of Calumet. So Nora and I decided to volunteer for it. Gracie had a date with a friend planned previously, so she went to it. The weather was perfect for such a clean up and they seemed to have a pretty decent group of helpers. There were folks picking up trash in the park, others cleaning up some of the open lots in town and at one spot, they were doing a major clean up. Our group stopped by to gather some old bricks to be used for landscaping where we were working. So we loaded them into the back of a pick-up and brought them down to our spot, where we put them to use.
    So other than letting you all know that I plan to wake up the site tomorrow with summer forecasts, I guess that about covers it for this one. Short and sweet. I'll be back next week!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
May 10, 2015-
    Happy Mothers Day Moms! I hope all the moms are having a great day. I think if one was to ask Nora, she would say that she is having a good far! Breakfast was made for her, all the dishes were done, she got cards from Gracie and I (even shed a little tear) and was able to get her traditional Mothers Day presents when she went to Marquette Fri-Sat (plants for the planters out front). We just got back from grocery shopping as well as picking up two kayaks (the inexpensive plastic ones) and the gear needed to have a good time with them. She is relaxing in the living room as I type and as soon as I finish, I will be fixing dinner. Then perhaps some more relaxing before we head into the bedroom for the real magic to happen...we both fall sound asleep! ;)
    But seriously, we both feel so grateful to be able to even celebrate Mothers and Fathers day and that is the only real present we will need the rest of our lives. Although the pampering is fun to do/get as well.
    Well, it was a beautiful week of summer weather. I know when I last wrote, it was like summer, with temps in the 70's. We did turn cooler for Monday, but still reached a high of 60. Then it was back into the 70's for Tuesday, Wednesday and on Thursday we hit 88! I had some appointments to go to Thursday afternoon and dressed for them, with shorts a lose fitting cotton shirt and shades. As I walked from one appointment back to the truck, the sun and upper 80's made it feel like I was in Florida, minus the humidity. What a wonderful feeling. I must say that I am not quiet ready for that to happen on a regular basis and truth be told, it does not usually happen on a regular basis up here. Our average daily high tops out at 78 in late July and early August. So 88 is warm for any time of the warm season. Still, it got me excited to be able to float in the pool and enjoy the summer afternoons with my family.
    The warm temps this week did away with all of the snow in our yards but on my walk Friday morning, we did encounter some snow that had survived the hot temps the day before. With Nora out of town yesterday, I did not get to walk with the pups, but on this mornings walk, that pile of snow was all gone. I have not been by the Laurium Glacier in a few days, but when I did go past it last, it was getting close to the point where it will need closer attention paid to it. I am thinking at least another week left, perhaps more as it is cooler now and will be for the next few days. We even look to see some flakes of snow fall Monday night and Tuesday. Tuesday evening is suppose to be Gracie's first baseball game, so we will see how that goes.
    The warm temps have gotten some of the trees to pop their buds. Not fully open just yet, but in some spots the tress are all at least partially filled out. That was the Eagle Harbor Cut-off road, about half way between the highway and town. The buds on our trees are still manly locked up tight, with a few blistering. I have to say, it is always a nice sight to see the woods turn green and I am looking forward to the next few weeks, as our woods make that wonderful transition.
    I was able to snap that shot of the Eagle Harbor Cut-off Rd Friday evening, as Nora was out of town to participate in a run to benefit brain cancer research/treatment with two of her friends, so Gracie and I had I has a daddy-daughter date night and went to the Eagle Harbor Inn for some "ribs-on-the-bone" as she calls them. We both love them and love them there. I love our daddy-daughter dates and Gracie does too.
    On her way to Marquette Friday afternoon, Nora spotted a moose just west of Three Lakes and was able to stop and snap some pictures of it. In all the years I have traveled that route, I have yet to spot on. I think I might have been able to on the 30th of March when I went to the skin Dr (reports from him came back all OK), as there was a truck pulled off to the side of the road and the driver was taking a picture of something in the woods on the right hand side of the lane I was traveling in. I looked as best I could with being safe and did not spot it and I did not want to stop and back for fear of scaring it away and ruining the persons photo-op. One of these day! Heck we had a moose pass through our neck of the woods a year or two and it was spotted on the Golf Course at the Mountain Lodge.
    So I was able to finish my project in the shop this week. With the weather, I did not spend as much time in the shop as I thought I might, but was still able to finish things up...for this project anyway. For as long as I have had a woodshop, I have always had open "bench" type tables on either side of the "chop" saw. It did work out well, but did not afford as much storage as I wanted and the tools were not as organized as I would have wished and would also collect some dust sitting there, so I decided to make two banks of 3 cabinets for either side of the saw and also make a custom top, including a rear bench that also serves as a fence for the saw. It is no secret that I love to wood work and I would also like to get back into doing some commission work, but after this project, I can say that I do not think I could make a career of making cabinets. There is just so much repetition. 
    In this project, I had 6 separate cases that had 3 drawers in them each. The construction of the cases went pretty quickly, but then the drawers took a lot of time. For each drawer 2 sides, a front and rear and bottom needed to be made. That was 108 pieces. Then I did frame and panel false fronts, which also was another 108 pieces. I could have made them less "fancy" and more utility, especially since they were going to be used in the shop, but I figured I may as well do it the way I really wanted to, especially since this will probably be the final time I will ever have to build pieces for either side of the saw. On Saturday, I even got some help from Gracie. I attached the pulls to the fronts and she was thrilled to be able to help me by opening up all the packages of pulls, sort the pieces for me and then hand the pieces I need to me when I needed them. I don't think I will ever be able to look at those pulls and not think of that last picture.
    There are still several projects I want to do for the shop itself, but I think I will move on to something for the house and that will be a bench for the foyer and then some custom accessories for the insides of the kitchen cabinets.
    So I think that about covers it for this one. It looks like the warmer temps later this week after the rains/snows early this week could make for some great SxS riding, so perhaps we will do a bit of that and snap some shots.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
May 3, 2015-
    Well, in the ebb and flow that happens with this journal writing, this will most likely be an ebb event. The week was pretty uneventful for the most part. Which is probably a good thing as back in 2010 I was feeling poor enough to have a pacemaker have to be put in and around this time in 2011, I was headed down to the Mayo for open heart number 2. I did see the dentist on Monday though! All is good there. 
    The week certainly introduced spring in full form. We rose into the 50's every day and I believe this might be the first time since early November of 2014 that I can say we had no snow fall. By Friday, the temps rose into the 60's and both yesterday and today have been in the 70's. That is part of my reason for making this a shorter one, as I can hear the screened in porch calling. We took it for a spin yesterday evening and I am pretty sure we will have to take it up for another flight today before the rains and cooler temps hit.
    I also visited the skin doctor on Thursday for my annual check up. He did remove three things that will need to be looked at, but he seems to remove a couple with every visit, so I typically do not worry about it until it is time to. It was a nice day and rather than have the pups sit in their crates for most of the day, I took them with me. They love the car or truck and so it is much more fun for them to come along than stay at home and I enjoy their company. 
    Because the Dr had to remove some things and I need to be on an antibiotic when it is done (due to my artificial heart valves), the appointment took a bit longer. In fact, I left the office, went to the pharmacy, got the pills, took them and then took the pups for a quick walk while the antibiotic got into my bloodstream. Then it was back for the fun!
    The removal did not take too long, but then there is the paperwork and what not and by the time we were all on our way back to the island, it had seemed and felt like it had been a long day. Not just to me, but to the Millie testifies here.
    The weather was not only mild, but dry and a road that went unplowed all season finally became clear of snow enough that the pups and I could start using it on our morning walks. So we are not back up to the full 2 miles each and every morning and are all enjoying it.
    I also spent some more time in the shop this week. I was not able to finish up the project that I have been working on for the past several weeks, but am getting closer. The main reason is, I do not want to go out there and work when I could spend time with my family. So my "shop time" is primarily the few hours a day that I may or may not have available while the girls are at the school. Plus, I have just been taking my time on things and fully enjoying the process and not being focused on the product. If all goes well, I should be able to finish it up this coming week. But I caution, it really is not a big deal at all, quite boring actually, but I did need it and it has already come in handy. 
    The pups have really enjoyed hanging out in the shop with their dad. All I have to do is say: "wanna be shop dogs?" and they spring up and head out there with me. Most of the time just relaxing or chewing on the assortment of bones I have for them out there. I sure am glad that they enjoy being out there with me as it does keep me company and I also do not have to feel guilty about leaving them in the house alone while I am out there.
    So last summer Gracie got into soccer and will be playing again this summer. It does not start until late in the summer and we had asked her if she wanted to play baseball this summer, as it happens in May and June, and she said sure. So yesterday was the field clean-up day. So a bunch of the players and their parents went out to the field and we did things like pick up any trash or rocks on the field. It was nice to see little trash and not too many rocks either. They dragged the infield to get it in better shape and we also made a couple of trips to the local gravel pit to get a nice sand/clay mixture to fill in some of the low spots on the infield. The commanders dumping feature on the rear cargo area came in quite handy for that! So the field is all ready to go and Gracies first practice is May 12th. So it should be interesting!
    We had also gotten Gracie into piano this past autumn. Only by her choice. It was forced upon me when I was a kid and I just did not take to it or appreciate it because I so wanted to go and play outside with my friends, rather than get in that 30 minutes of practice every day before I did anything. I know the intent of my parents was good, so no hard feelings, but I just wanted to make sure that Gracie did not feel she HAD to take piano or any other activity against her will. She has been loving it and getting pretty good for her first year. Yesterday afternoon was her season ending recital in Calumet, along with all the other kids under the same instructor. She did great and despite her saying she was a little nervous, it was quite hard to tell she was nervous at all. I am working on the video stream and the pay-per-view arrangements. Just kidding!
    Well, that looks like that will cover it for today. The temp is 74, the beautiful sounds of the Keweenaw woods are calling, so time to head over to the porch.
    Good night from the Keweenaw..


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