September 25, 2016-
Well, you have me again this
week. Nora is still working on her journal. I have seen a bit of it and can
say that it will for sure be worth the wait. I know I am really looking
forward to reading it. She has done a ton of work on it already, but just
does not want to rush through it. So it looks like at least one more week of
My week has been a busy one. Nora was out of town at a
conference from Monday through Wednesday. With Grace at school most of the
day, it does not change things too much for me, but I do have to get Grace
up, fed breakfast and then make sure she is ready to go to school. Then I
drive her there and am free until around 3 when I have to go pick her up.
Once home, I typically stop most of my working, so I can spend time with
her. So the first 3 days of this week were shortened a bit in how much time
I had to work on things, but I did manage to get the office nearly done.
I say nearly done, because there are still a few things
to do like make some beams for the ceiling, build my desktop and do some
decorating. However, the "heavy lifting" is done...so to speak.
All the walls are done, the new window went in Thursday afternoon and I was
able to put in the new flooring and move things around to their approximate
I am not going to wait until it is totally done to do the
reveal to you all, as I really do not know when it will be totally done. It
is done to the point where I can do all the work I need to do and not have
to move things around like computers and work stations. So I will likely be
moving on to some other projects that are also looming over my head, like
making firewood and some other outdoor chores.
So, after 3 weeks of grunting and groaning and hitting my
fingers with a hammer, here is the nearly final product that I can call my
office. If you forget what things looked like before the remodel here is
a shot just before the
demo took place. Here are the
two of them in one photo, so you can see all that was done. Gone is the
nasty carpeting, the drab walls and small window. I love the "Northwoods"
feel to the room now and will be decorating it in that style as well,
including a new area rug. The nasty metal filing cabinet will be going as
well, and I am going to build a nice one out of wood.
The one thing that has changed in my plans now that I am
to this point, is that I am not going to be building a formal work desk and
putting it in the room. There just really is not enough room for one. I am
thinking about building a smaller work desk and put it along the one wall
that is not in the photo, but we'll see. The desk in the photo was a mock-up
and I have learned from it that I want to extend the right hand side of it
another foot to give me some more desktop space.
In addition to the big things done during the remodel,
there were some smaller custom details also done. Like an
outlet that is dedicated for USB power, a couple more outlets placed in
some strategic spots to make plugging in all the equipment easier and a pipe
to vent the portable AC's heat through to the outside, rather than take up
part of one of the windows.
It really has not sunk in that this remodel project is
pretty much done. I think it is because it has been such a whirlwind
experience! Well worth it, but I have come to the realization that I may not
be able to put carpentry on my fall back list of occupations if this weather
forecasting thing does not work out! At the end of each day, my body was
quite sore- especially my poor beat up back and knees. The few times I had
to go into the woodshop to do some work, it was vastly different. No bending
over or kneeling made for very comfortable work. So perhaps cabinet maker is
still an option.
Switching gears completely, Gracie had her third to last
soccer game yesterday. The weather cooperated for both her game on Tuesday
and yesterday. Tuesday's game was in the evening and the evenings are
getting much chillier now than they were just a few weeks ago, but it makes
it better for the kids, as they do not get overheated and I am fine with it,
just have to dress for it. Yesterday's game was in the midday, but it was
still chilly enough that Nora put an
extra layer underneath her uniform. She almost scored a goal...twice!
This morning before the rain hit, we took a walk in our
woods. I just love the trails that my brother and Grace have put in this
summer. It is so relaxing to walk through the woods and is hard to believe
that we are walking through OUR woods and not a park or something. While
Nora and I walk and take it all in, Gracie
and the pups race through the woods and take it all in in a different way.
Nora's garden is still cranking away. We have not had a
killing frost yet, not even close actually. Plus daytime highs were in the
60's and low 70's this past week and solidly in the 70's prior to that. That
has allowed the sunflowers
to head out. The other plants are still pumping out the veggies at full
speed. So much so that Nora needed to use a
wheelbarrow to collect everything. I sure hope there is some zucchini bread
in our future with those two giants in that shot!
So as mentioned, the weather has still been more like
summer than autumn up here. The trees are changing a bit, but are only
around 10% changed in most spots up our way. This past week was a bit cooler
and it looks like the week ahead will be even more so. It looks to get cold
enough to generate some lake effect rain tomorrow and Tuesday. No snow and
none is seen in the forecast for the next 10 days at least, but that is fine
A couple of reminders...The Keweenaw Snowmobile Club will
be holding our annual trail work session on October 21-22. We have a
re-route in the Mohawk area to do as well as some bridge repair. All able
bodied persons are invited to head up and have some fun in the woods that
weekend. The Trailside Lodge in Calumet and D's Basecamp in Toivola both are
offering up free lodging to workers. So you just have to call them and make
your reservations. There will be a free dinner on Saturday and right now I
am planning on doing up some smoked brisket and pulled pork. We sure could
use the help this season, as there are some very important jobs to get done.
If you have any other questions, feel free to shoot
me a note.
The Milwaukee Snowmobile Show is not too far away, and I
will be attending it for the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club this year. We will
have maps, as well as the ability for all to sign up/renew their membership
to the club and then get the new cards/stickers. I also plan to bring some
ThinkSnow stickers to sell. I will be there Friday night and all day
Saturday, but do not plan to be at the booth Sunday.
So I think that about covers it for this one. I have just
one final pic to share with you. It is of a painting that Grace did at her
uncle Jim's. He is an artist by trade and a good one and Gracie has really
taken an interest in art. So he gave her some space in his studio and let
her create this
painting that is hanging in her bedroom.
Talk to you all next month and until then...
Good Night from the Keweenaw..
|This business directly
September 18, 2016-
Happy September 18th!
If I were to be waking up from a coma and have to base the date on the
weather, I might think it was more like the end of August, rather than the
3rd week of September. I'm not complaining (too much!). I am still in the
midst of my office remodel, which means that I still have some outdoor work
to do. Namely the firewood for the season, but I am planning on putting the
shops on a regular cast iron boiler, so will not need to make as much wood.
In any case, I guess my only complaint with the weather this past week would
have been the humidity. We did get some rain too, but it did not really
interfere with things too much. The humidity, while not at high levels was
enough to feel, with dewpoints ranging from around 60-65 degrees. My
dewpoint right now is at 61, which is enough to cause one to perspire a bit
more when being active and so I have been doing some perspiring during the
It is getting closer to being done. 2 walls and the
ceiling are all done. One wall just needs to be stained and the fourth wall
needs to be opened up and re-framed for a new window that will be arriving
this Thursday. Once the window is done, then I can finish the interior and
exterior of that wall. I plan to get about half of the flooring in and then
wait until I am done with the exterior wall work to run the flooring over
After going around in circles on what kind of a desktop I
wanted to do, I finally came up with the "final answer". It is
going to be totally home made and I have not seen anything similar done. So
I guess I am hoping it turns out like I want it to! If not, I have lots of
other options. I am going to save the reveal of the desktop and rest of the
office remodel until it is all done. With a bit of luck, that could be the
It has been fun to do though. I did get stressed when I
first tore it all up and had my work computers all over the place. Then the
lightning strike the day after Labor Day did not help with the stress, but
as I have progressed through the stages, the stress level has dropped and I
am really looking forward to having it done. It will be my office, but
perhaps also my true "Man Cave".
I think the thing that I am most excited about it that it
will finally be set up just how I want it. When I moved the office down into
its current room, we were still doing the addition/remodel and I could not
do this room like I wanted, so sort of threw things in place and got by.
Well, here we are...3 years later and I am finally getting to it!
So other than my regular work, some play with the family
and the remodeling, not much has been happening with me. I actually thought
Nora was going to write this entry, but she has decided to hold off until a
future entry, as she has a very special experience and information/pictures
to share with you all and she wants to get everything ready to go, rather
than just rushing into it. I am not going to spoil what it is, but I think
you all will really enjoy what she has to share.
The pups and I have finally gotten back onto our morning
walk schedule. The mornings have been pretty nice. A bit muggy at times, but
not hot. Some mornings require a light jacket and others let me wear shorts
and a t-shirt. The one common factor has been the higher humidity and
pockets of fog. By the time we hit the trail, most
of the fog has burned off and we are not putting ourselves at risk by
walking the side of the road in poor visibility.
It feels really good to be back to walking with them. I
took most of the summer off, as Gracie was home and I could not leave her at
home alone. By the time she rolled out of bed most mornings, I was past my
little break time and could not go. The pups are even more excited than I
am. They sure do love their morning walks. It does not matter where we go,
they just love to put nose to ground and check out all that has happened
recently. I think we all are enjoying the exercise too. I know just in the
few weeks that I have started walking, I have lost a few pounds and still
have a few to go.
With the change of seasons, the critters have gotten more
active in looking for food or shelter or both. There are almost always a few
deer hanging out around our place all summer long, but the autumn is when
they seem to get a bit more brave in where then go and when. Nora even
spotted a nice 6-8 point buck just down the road from our place the other
evening. Yesterday morning, the pups, Gracie and I spotted this
one in our woods. Kind of looks like one of last years youngsters.
So I guess that about covers it for this one. I have one
final picture to share with you. It is of the
girls when we went out to dinner the other evening in Eagle Harbor. How
did I get so lucky?! :)
Good night from the Keweenaw..
September 11, 2016-
It was an adventurous
week to say the least. At around 5 am Tuesday morning, right as I was in the
midst of doing my morning work, lightning decided to hit our house! It
actually did not hit the house directly, it hit the driveway and then
traveled to the house. That is the first time I have ever been in the direct
vicinity of a lightning strike. I can best describe it as like a bomb
went off. The flash and boom were at the exact time and the loss of power
was a few milliseconds after.
It did not take me more than a second or so to figure out
what had happened, so my first act was to call out to the girls to make sure
they were OK. At that point, I was not sure where the lightning had hit and
there was the potential that a window was open in the rooms they were still
sleeping in. My first call out came back with no answer and sent a wave of
fear rushing through my body. I was just passing through the doorway of my
office into the living area, so I called out when I got closer to the
doorways to the rooms they were sleeping in and they both answered,
"yes, we are both fine". At that very instant, it no longer
mattered what damage had been done. We all were OK, the pups were OK, so
everything else would be OK.
All the lights had gone off in my office and the rest of
the house was dark, so my immediate thought was that we had lost power too.
So I called the electricity provider to let them know, but then realized our
standby generator had not kicked in. So I became concerned that it had
gotten fried too, when all of the sudden Nora pointed out to me that the
clocks on the microwave and regular oven were working. So it ended up being
a couple of circuits had been taken out, but the majority of them were fine
and we still had power going to the house. So I called the power company
back and told them we actually had power.
The next step was to do a more thorough damage assessment
to make sure nothing like a fire or other issue needed immediate attention.
It was still storming out, so I did not go outside, but it seemed as though
everything else was OK. So I ran some extension cords to my office and tried
to get things back up and running. It turns out that 2 of my main work
computers were taken out and a laptop that was plugged in and running was OK
and another laptop sitting in a travel bag was OK. So I got those up to
speed and then concentrated on trying to get my work done for the morning. I
was able to get some things out, but others were not able to be done. I am
still working off of the backup machines, but do have one machine that has
been purchased and just needs to be outfitted with all of the software that
I use and another machine (my main machine) is in the process of being
The good news is that the main machine that had all the
critical data on it and was fried, its hard drive was not damaged. So I had
a local computer company transfer all the data from that drive to an
external drive and I have to pick that up tomorrow.
We also lost two TV's and all of the computer networking
equipment. One TV has been replaced and we are going to go without the other
for a while as it has been replaced by the one that was in my office (and
did not get hit) and probably got used an average of once a week. The
networking equipment has been replaced and is up and going. So I am slowly
getting back up to full speed, it may be another week or two before
everything is in the same shape it was before the lightning struck.
Once the storms passed, I did go out to see if I could
see where the lightning had struck and it did not take long for me to figure
that out! On the one side of our driveway was a
6-8" deep trench (that was not there before the storm) that ran
around 8 feet towards the house. There were also rocks from the driveway
scattered all over the retaining wall by the porch. So it was pretty clear
that the strike had hit the driveway and traveled towards the house. There
was also mud splattered against the house as well as up underneath the
roof overhang. So if proof was ever needed that lightning does not
always strike the highest object, nor do you need to be directly struck by
the bolt to be impacted. That was it! There are tons of tall trees as well
as the house itself in the direct area that the ground was struck and the
bolt traveled around 15 feet to get to the house and must have traveled even
further to bring the surge into the electrical panel.
Inside the panels, I removed one arc fault breaker and
one ground fault breaker. Here is a shot of the ground lead for the arc
fault breaker, showing how the surge had fried
the 12 gauge wire. I has been a lot of work to determine what all was
damaged and then report it to the insurance company. They were great in
working with us to get reimbursed, but it has also been a lot of work to get
the replacements, as most of that had to be picked up in Marquette. So I
went there on Thursday. All in all, I'd say we were very lucky. The
computers were a big loss, especially since it is my livelihood, but I was
able to limp along with back ups. Most importantly, none of us were injured.
I would prefer to not have to go through this again though! Oh, and all of
the equipment that got fried was on a surge protected circuit. The main
computer even on a back-up power supply that is surge protected. So I am not
sure how much additional protection would have helped.
I guess it was both good and bad that this happened while
the office was being remodeled. The TV in the office was spared as it was
unplugged and even out of the room. Same goes for my printer and a few other
electronic devices. The bad part was that I was already stressing a bit
about having my office all torn apart and was hoping to spend much of last
week getting the remodel done. So no remodel work was done until this
afternoon when I did a bit of electrical work. A bit more electrical work
still to do and then I can start the process of putting the walls, ceiling
and flooring in and bringing that room back up to full speed.
I was planning to go to Haydays this year and decided
that despite all the work that could have been done had I stayed home, I
needed a little break and went after all. The weather probably could not
have been any better. Mostly sunny skies and temps around 70. It had also
rained a bit in the days leading up to the event, so there was no dust to
worry about. The folks that put on the event have also invested money into
making the area the event takes place even more suitable. All of the isles
that folks walk on are now old asphalt, which does not get too dusty and
makes for more even walking that the old farm field. Some of the exhibit
spots have been made nice with the same material to walk on and they just
seemed to be a pretty well oiled machine this year. Not that there have been
problems since the first year they moved to this new location and had the
major issues, but it just seemed like there were no hassles to deal with,
which is impressive with such a large volume of people in such a large area
of space. The crowds
were good too. As busy or more than I have seen it in the 5 or so years
I have gone.
I did not purchase anything (other than some food and
drink), but it was nice to be able to take a look at all the new products
available and get a feel for what I might want to get for this upcoming
season. Plus, it was great to see so many folks getting ready for the
season, especially after the poor season most areas had last year.
We drove down Friday like we always do, but ended up
driving straight home from the event on Saturday, which I think I liked a
lot better, rather than returning to the friends house I stay at when I come
down and then having to wake up before dawn on Sunday to get back in time to
salvage half of the day on Sunday and be able to get my work done.
We got home around midnight and after sleeping in a bit,
I did get that work done this morning and then Gracie, Nora, the pups and I
took a walk in the woods. The trails my brother and Gracie have made are
wonderful to walk through the woods on and we all had a blast trouncing
through the woods on them.
We have entered into the second mushroom season up here,
spring being the first. With all the wet and mild weather we have been
having, there is an abundance of them growing in the woods this autumn. I
have been called a fun guy, but am not a fungi guy at all. I do not care for
them to eat, so I have never taken the time to educate myself in the
different types and which are edible. None the less, I did take a few
pictures of some of the species we encountered this morning. These
variety were probably the common and were also pretty cool, with their
bright orange color and scalloped edges. We did not encounter many of these,
but they were quite numerous in the area they were growing in. It's hard to
gauge the size of this
cluster from the picture, but they were probably around 18" square.
Finally, these were
pretty cool, as they were all over one side of a dead, standing tree. I
do know what a morel looks like and did not spot any of them. Not sure if
they are a spring only species.
So that about gets you caught on on things. I hope to
make some great progress on both the office and getting my work capabilities
up to speed this week. Although I do not anticipate being done with either
by next weekend. I am done producing the text forecasts for the warm season
and will continue the graphics for a few more weeks. I hope to have my
seasonal outlook done by early October.
A few quick announcements...The Superior Snowmobile Club
is holding their annual trail clean work session next weekend and there are
posts with more info on it on the discussion board. Speaking of the
discussion board, it looks like the issue many were having with posting
pictures has been resolved, so if you were having problems like that, you
might want to head over there and give it a try. Lastly the Keweenaw
Snowmobile Club will be holding their trail work session October 21-22.
There will be free lodging for all workers at the Trailside
Lodge just north of Calumet and also at D's
Basecamp in Toivola. Depending on the amount of participants, I may see
about getting another hotel to see about donating some lodging. A free
dinner will also be provided Saturday night for all the workers. We will be
doing bridge work as well as work to widen the path for a re-route in the
Mohawk area. So all interested in that should contact those two businesses
and I will be putting a role call on the board to help us determine how many
folks will be coming to help out. Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
September 5, 2016-
Well, I have been
sitting here trying to think of a cleaver way to start this entry, but have
come up empty, so why not start it with a
little fresh snow! Yep, that was the picture from one of the Togwotee
Pass web cams this morning. A fresh coating in spots. I don't know about
you, but it sure gets me excited for the upcoming winter!
No snow here and none in the forecast for the next 10
days at least. In fact, after a very nice week of weather, we are into the
warmth and humidity as I type. Temps are approaching 80 degrees and the
dewpoint is at 70. Not the kind of weather we want to see or are very
accustomed to up this way in September, but the cooler and less humid air is
coming in a day or so. Not just for us, but for everybody. It looks like the
weather will be quite good for Haydays. Maybe not so much Friday and Friday
night, with rains seen, but Saturday and Sunday look to be dry, low humidity
and temps in the 60's to low 70's.
As mentioned, it was a pretty good week weather wise up
here. No nasty humidity and temps were pretty comfortable as well. It did
provide for some nice outdoor working conditions. I had 3 projects going on
at once this week. One was to help my brother make his front porch level
again and then support it correctly. The other was to work on some lighting
for our kitchen area and the final was to start the remodel of my office.
My brothers project was actually started around 10 days
ago and went pretty well. The porch had originally been built on log posts
sunk into the ground. Those sunk quite a bit and then somewhere down the
road, someone tried to stabilize things by putting in some new support posts
on top of concrete footings, but the footings were only 5 1/2 inches deep in
the soil and did their own sinking. Plus, it looked like they had not done
much leveling out during that operation, so by the time we go to it, the
front of the porch was around 4" lower than the part that was attached
to the house and the distance from the front of the porch to the front of
the house was only 7 feet!
So the first stage was to jack up the porch to get it
level. Then some temporary supports were put in. We beefed up the floor
joists and rim joists for the porch and then Jim dug new
holes for footings. Some concrete filled sono tubes went in, then the
new 6x6 support columns and the porch was let down onto the new support. All
went well and he is very happy to have that done. It probably was not too
far from falling down!
Not a whole lot was done on project #2. It was started
around 10 days ago as well and has been on hold while the other two projects
get done. It is almost done, with only about an hour of work left.
Quite a bit of work was done on project #3 this week. On
Thursday afternoon, I took some of the things cluttering up the office out
and then on Friday, everything came out of my office. That led to "Demo
Day" for Friday evening and Saturday. First some
shelving had to come out, then the desk tops and then it was time to
shut down the power and tear
into the drywall. Our family likes to watch a program called Fixer
Upper, so was all amped up to help with the demolition.
All went well and we got things
down to the studs in the walls we wanted to. The reason for the
insulation in the one wall was because it used to be the outside wall of the
cabin, but now is the wall that separates my office from the master bath.
The un-insulated spot is were a window used to be. I am going to put
insulation in there for sound control, as well as in the other walls. The
back wall was left with drywall on it because it is going to get a brick
veneer over it, while the other walls and ceiling get tongue and
Yesterday, I removed the carpeting and got things cleaned
up and then moved all of the critical components to my office back in. So
this is how things look
at the moment. I figure with everything against the back wall, I will be
able to put the tongue and groove up up, then relocate the desk and
computers away from the back wall, put the new window in and then the brick
veneer. Speaking of tongue and groove, part of the work this week was to
pre-treat and then stain 164 12 foot long pieces of tongue and groove. They
are all done and sitting
in the shop, waiting to be put up...hopefully this week. Once all the
work on the walls and ceiling is done, then the new flooring will go in and
I can start to make the office furniture!
It was not all work this week, we were able to sneak in
some fun and R/R. Thursday evening it was decided to have a little campfire
in our yard to celebrate the end of summer. So Gracie and I got things
ready, then waited for Nora to finish up with her evening with friends and
then we got things
going. We hung out until just about darkness had set in and then went in
and to sleep. Little did we know that at that very time, the beginnings of a
nice aurora display were underway. Here is a picture taken by a local that
really stays on top of them and takes tons of great pictures that I get to
share with you. The picture was taken while there was still
a bit of daylight left on the western horizon. About 30 minutes things
were really cranking and the sky was all dark. Needless to say I was
both happy and sad to wake up on Friday and see the pics of the display the
night before, but know that we all could have seen them if we only had
checked the status of the aurora on an app I have.
Friday evening was the first Friday in Calumet, so all
the shops stayed open late and the Vertin Gallery even had a magician in it
performing his act. Although he looked to be no older than maybe 16-17, he
put on a great show
and baffled the audience in how he did his tricks.
After missing out on the aurora the night before, it was
decided that we would all head to the beach and see if we could get lucky
and see them on Friday night. So we bundled up, some more than others, and
headed down to the
beach for another campfire. Initially, I had to chuckle at the Nanook of
the North jacket Gracie had chosen to bring with her, but it proved to be a
great idea, as there was a pretty stiff breeze on the beach and temps were
dropping through the low 60's into the 50's, so it got quite chilly and she
was the only one that was warm!
We did get to see the northern lights, but they were not
as vivid as the night before. At least while we viewed them. We turned in
around 11 pm and I guess things got ramped up pretty good about 12:30, as my
brother stayed up late and was able to see the main show for that night.
So I guess that gets you caught up on things going on up
here. This will be the final week for the text forecasts and will be
highlighting the big Haydays event. Then the graphics will continue for the
rest of the month.
Despite the warmth and humidity, things are starting to
take on an autumn look, with the trees just starting to change and the bugs
on the run. Most of the woods are still very green and here is proof
of that. The story behind that pic is that Jim and Gracie were out in
our woods and Gracie looked up and pointed out the cool patter the leaves
made against the sky. Jim thought it was so cool that he took a picture of
it. I have found if I sit and stare at it for a while, I feel very relaxed.
Time for a nap!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
September 4, 2016-
I have been a pretty
busy beaver and did not get to spend much time with my family this weekend
so far, so am going to write tomorrow!
Good night from the Keweenaw..