Not Complaining

…but, where in the heck is our warm weather?! We did actually have around 2 days the week of May 8th, even hitting the 80’s in areas. Things were a little upside down around the 11th or 12th, with Mohawk warming to 83, but Jacobsville not getting warmer than 51, due to our old friend east winds and the chill they bring from off the big lake. 

It seems like we struggle to get out of the low 50’s most days, with either the winds off the lake, a thick overcast, rain or some kind of combination of the three. However, like I say, I cannot complain. We have not had snow, or really hot temps, severe dryness, flooding or severe weather. Just lots and lots of jacket weather nd not a lot of pure sunshine.

I keep telling myself that it will be coming and perhaps I am jumping the gun for us to be seeing endless days in the 70’s, but we should be hitting at least the 60’s a whole lot more than we have been and seeing more 70’s than we have been. I guess the one upside is that the bugs have not shown their ugly faces yet. I have seen video and some pictures from the southern UP and it looked like the blackflies were pretty bad. I my have seen one or two this past week, but they are the early hatchers and really tend to be non-biters. Maybe we will go from these 50’s to 70’s and 80’s and cause the blackfly season to be a short one.

Two weeks ago, along with the brief spell of warm weather, we had some thunderstorms. They were not too bad in our neck of the woods, just a lot of lightning and thunder and some short spells of heavy rain. Not far away though, there were some severe storms that brought wind damage and also a fair amount of flooding. On the evening of the 13th we were treated to some cumulus mammatus clouds that had formed from a cluster of thunderstorms just east of us. No matter how many times I see them, I am always fascinated by them!

The difference in average temps between Jacobsville and other areas of the Keweenaw can be noted in the canopy of the woods. Down in Houghton and Hancock, the trees are around 75% filled out, while here in Jake we are only at about 25%. That is quite a difference for just around 15 miles as the crow flies! Within the past week, the grass really greened up and grew as well. I had to do the first cutting of the back lawn yesterday and will do the front lawn tomorrow and hopefully Nora’s brothers lawn on Tuesday.

We have a reasonable chance for some frost tonight. Nora picked up about half of her flowers for the summer and has not put them in the ground yet, but does plan to tomorrow when she gets home from work. The rest of the week and the holiday weekend does not currently hold any chances for frost, so this is most likely the last one for the season. 

I have been kept busy with the finishing out of the apartment in the barndominium. We had drywallers come around a month ago and get all of that done. There are some walls with tongue and groove on them and I finished that up last week. So the next task is to prime all the drywall, then paint it. After that, install the flooring an it will be ready for furniture and kitchen cabinets. I will be building the kitchen cabinets and some of the furniture. It will be very nice to have that done! It will be a great place to just hang out and also a great place for friends and family to stay in. There will be some other construction activity happening this autumn, but I will share that as things become more finalized.

The final tidbit I have to share with you for this entry is the status of the Laurium Glacier. The cold March and April and cool May combined with a rather large amount of snow accumulated there this last winter has it still hanging on pretty good. This picture is from a few days ago, but things have not changed too much since. Looking at the temps for the week ahead, there is a reasonable chance that it might make it into June this year! We shall see!

Good Night From the Keweenaw!!
JD

Breaking Slumber

At long last, the weather has finally decided to emerge out of its pseudo-winter state and into spring. 50’s have become the norm, with even a few 60’s occurring. We have stayed a bit cooler for most of the past week, because of wind out of the east, which puts us in a direct line of fire for the lake chilled air. The lake also adds some moisture, so on a cloudy day, low 50’s can feel more like upper 30’s, but overall, it has been a much welcomed change to our weather scenario.

The snows are leaving at a steady pace. The only places which still have a pretty solid cover on the ground are the Keweenaw from around Phoenix north. There are still patches in places like Calumet and Mohawk and of course the piles from moving it are still around as well. Here in Jake, we have been without snow on the ground for about 10-12 days and the grass is beginning to green. Still mostly the pale green/tan that shows up when the snow first melts, but areas that receive more sunlight do have a more pronounced amount of green in them.

Other than that, things are kinda slow in these parts. Pretty much the norm for this time of the year. Some of the snowbirds have returned from the south, but the majority of them will probably be arriving more towards the end of the month.

I continue to ease my way into feeling better. It has been a pretty slow process, with some days better than others, but most certainly a movement in the right direction and today was probably my best day since coming down with pneumonia in early March and probably one of the better feeling days for me since last September or October. The girls have been doing great, counting down the days until this school year is history. I believe they have 4 more weeks. Pretty crazy to think that Grace will be starting 8th grade next year. It is really starting to settle in that she will not be living with us for that much longer! When they say it goes fast, believe me, they are right!

So I guess that about covers it for this one. Have a Happy Mothers Day all of you mothers and We shall meet again in a week!

Good Night from the Keweenaw..
-JD

Sprinter

Boy, what a special 2 months it’s been up here weather wise. So special, so very special (note extreme sarcasm) that I have decided to use the powers vested in me, as Reverend Snowflake, to declare the past two months Sprinter. Not spring and not winter. Nor some kind of balance between the two.

The “normal” Keweenaw March typically starts very winter-like. Most of the precip falls as snow, there is still plenty of snow on the ground and temps the first week or so are in the teens and 20’s. Then, about mid-month, There comes that first, warm and sunny day. By warm I mean hitting 50 or even into the 50’s. The combination of the warmer temps and sunshine is a blessing to all…even the hard core snow lovers. Tech students are seen trouncing around campus with shorts and t-shirts on. Here and there a vehicle will be seen with its windows down and there are smiles on many of the locals faces. We rarely put more than 2-3 of those days together in a row, but they are enough to erode the gloom created by the past 4-5 months of cold temps and gray skies. Plus, even with the return of the colder air and snow, locals know that it will not be too long before those types of days become common.

The final week to ten days of March typically sees lots of 40’s and about 1/2 the days being mostly sunny. A few 50’s is not out of the question either. That is what really gets the snows melting and the sap running.

By April, we usually seem to stall out some in the warming department. The big lake is still frigidly cold and unless the winds are from the south, that big, barely frozen lake will keep our temperatures mainly in the 40’s. We are not immune to snows in April either, but they typically are fairly quick hitting, dropping 2-5″ and then gone in less than 12 hours. Most of that newly fallen snow melts the next day. By the end April and early May 50’s start to become more commonplace than 40’s, although 40’s still happen around 30-40 percent of the time and snows can still fall.

The real transition to warmer temps and the green of spring happens as we travel through the month of May. First it’s the grass that turns green in the first week or so (if the snow is gone!), then flowers like Tulips, Daffodil, Lily of the Valley, Dandelion, and…if your are lucky enough, Early-Blooming Dwarf Iris will be blooming the 2nd to 3rd week of May. Buds on bushes like the Lilac are also swelling around the 2nd to 3rd week of May and by the last week or so, they bust open. The trees are the last to wake from their slumber. First come the Birch, Poplar and Aspen, not too far behind them will be the fruiting trees like the Apples, Cherry and any other growing around here. Finally as the last week of May comes and it seems like this will be the year without the Maples, Oak, Hickory, Cherry and Ash opening their leaves, in a matter of days they go from swelled buds to fully opened leaves.

By June, summer has taken over. All is green and magnificent up here. We have the varying bug seasons to have to grunt through, but a well seasoned yooper is always well prepared to go into battle against the little biting buggers, or better yet, sit the battle out to live another day!

So what has been up with this “spring”. The truth is, it has been severely lacking in any shots of warmth. Prior to yesterday, I believe we had just one day where the temperature reached at least 50. Yesterday was our first “Oh Wow” day, with upper 60’s and even a few low 70’s being recorded. Today it snowed. Not only has there been an absence of the unusually warm days, but lots of days where the temps have been several degrees below average, were under a thick overcast and exceptionally windy. In a nutshell, this March and April have been a parade of hard weather to find any enjoyment in. The first half of March was OK for winter recreation, but since, they day’s are just the kind of day you want to stay inside. To add insult to injury for me, I would normally be taking advantage of this weather by spending all my free time in the shop, but the triad of health thingys has not allowed me to have the energy for that. Naturally, Nora has hidden all the axes! Redrum, Redrum!

Ahh, don’t worry about this old boy. My buddy and partner in crime is on his way up from spending the winter in Arizona and will be here by the end of the week. That will go a long way towards putting my cabin fever to bed and although I have been saying it in my head for the past 3-4 weeks, the nice weather is just around the corner!

I do have a few pictures to share with you. This first one is from April 16th when we were having a full-on snowstorm. We picked up around 6-7″ out of that and once done, things looked like the dead of winter. Since then, we have been chipping away at the snowpack and our backyard is completely free, while the front yard has one pile about a foot deep from where it slid off the roof and there is another about 4-5″ deep from where the snowthrower piled it up a bit deeper. Up on the hill, places like Calumet and Mohawk still have 2-3 feet on the level at least. More in spots.

Yesterday during our “Oh Wow” weather day, we did venture to the big lake and were able to make it to White City for our first trip of the season. I really did not have the energy to trounce through the sand and walk the beach and the girls were hoping to be able to do a little beach combing, so we drove to some friends place where I could just park the truck and watch the girls look for treasures Lake Superior had decided to give up. The warm temps yesterday were tempered a bit by the very strong winds off the lake. Spring can have winds that will rival the Gales of November, but is not typically known for as big of waves, because of the way the warmer air reacts with the colder water. None the less, the big lake was no place to be yesterday, as the wave action was very respectable for April. While in the truck, I kept my window half up and let the sun warm the air inside. With the window half open, I could still clearly hear the waves rolling onto the shore, so I reclined my seat and slowly drifted off to sleep for a short nap.

It’s unplanned, unexpected moments like that which make living here such a treat. after all my grumbling about the weather, along comes a moment of pure bliss to take me away to a different place in my mind. One that is the magic of the Keweenaw.

Good Night From the Keweenaw..
JD

Somebody Show this Guy the Door!

It’s probably old news to most of you, but Old Man Winter will just not leave this season. Monday was cold, but dry and then we tried to warm up a bit for Tuesday, but the warming was cut short by rains that started up by midday and then intensified by late in the day. It rained fairly steadily during the day on Wednesday and then overnight, the rain changed to snow and by Thursday morning, there was a fresh 3-4″ down on the ground across the greater Jacobsville region. It continued to snow off and on through the day on Thursday, as well as into the overnight.

The snows did not amount to much more than an inch during the day on Thursday, but overnight, with both the intensity of the snow and the lack of melting sunlight allowed another 3-4″ to fall in most areas by Friday morning. It came down fairly heavily through most of the day on Friday, but with the strong April sunlight fighting its way through the clouds, we only managed to pick up a few inches of new snow. Friday night brought more snow activity, with around an inch or so and there was no letup in the snows Saturday, with another couple of inches falling, 

The snows did stop as the day ended on Saturday, but they decided to return for a few more hours this morning and then ended, leaving us with sunshine filtered through high clouds. Much of the snow that fell since Wednesday night melted today, so we are back to patches of ground, snow and standing water. 

That situation does not look to remain in place for too long, as another weather system and snows is approaching us from the west and looks to have the ground lightly coated by mornings light. Light snows then look to fall through most of the day tomorrow and be over by around midnight. Just plain old rains look to fall for Wednesday night and more rains are seen for later in the weekend. So a wet spring it will be for sure.

At this point, most of the locals, me included, are not really strongly hoping for anything, for fear of having our hopes dashed. For the past month or so, just when it looked like spring might be here for good, the atmosphere proved it had a different idea and brought us more winter weather. So I think we are all just going to take it as it comes, knowing that we are just weeks away from the time of the year when spring weather dominates things and there is just a small chance of getting some cold and an even smaller chance for the white stuff.

I have no pictures to share with you. Monday I was still laying low recovering from last weeks surgery. Then on Tuesday I actually felt worse and by Wednesday, I was spending almost every moment in bed, sound asleep. Turns out I came down with influenza A. Because of all my preexisting conditions, I was taken to the emergency department Wednesday afternoon and then admitted to the floor for Thursday and half of Friday and came home early Friday afternoon. The good folks at the hospital did their job in helping my body fight the bug and get feeling better and then lots of laying low at home since Friday afternoon has allowed my body to continue to get better. I am still not 100%, but if the current trend continues, I should be fairly functional in another 2-3 days.

So I guess that about covers it for this week. Have a happy rest of your Easter and I will talk to you all next week!

Good Night From the Keweenaw..
JD

Sadness, Peace, Love

Its been an eventful week to say the least. As I mentioned in the last entry, Nora and I traveled to Rochester MN so that I could get my pacemaker and one of the leads from it, replaced. I had several tests done Monday and Tuesday, with the replacement surgery happening at 10 am Wednesday. Once again, I proved to be a handful for the good folks at the Mayo Clinic, but they came through in shining colors as they have always done in the past. I have said it before and I will say it again, that facility and its staff are just amazing. I have yet to have a bad experience there and have NEVER had a nurse that was not over the top friendly and did their job extremely well. The daytime nurse I had was one I have had in the past! I guess that says something about how many times I have been in that joint!

We got home late Thursday, having to drive through some fairly heft snow squalls from around Hayward through Ironwood and Bergland and then things lightened up for the final hour of the trip. I felt bad because one of my restrictions from the surgery was no driving for 10 days, which meant that Nora had to drive the entire way, on top of stressing out about me in surgery the day before. She came through like a champ and although she gave me some grief for all the money I spent on a “radar/laser” detector, it did save us at least 3 times, or maybe more properly put, allowed us to travel a bit faster than we normally would!

The same day I had my surgery, my mom also passed away. It may sound cliché, but it really was more of a blessing that it happened. She was 87, so had lived a very long and full life. She had not been in the best of health since having a stroke around 2 years ago. In fact, several setbacks had sent her to the hospital and then several weeks of rehab since her stroke.

Nora, Grace, all of the rest of my immediate family (except for a Niece in FL) were able to be with her in the days before she got sick this go around. In fact, the same morning that Nora, Grace and I headed home from being with her, she woke up and had pains in her abdomen and had to be taken to the hospital. Initially, they though she had a blockage in her intestines, but it turned out to be in her stomach. Because of her age and existing conditions, they were very hesitant to do surgery, for fear she would not survive. So for over a week, they tried several different treatments, but none of them were working. On the 4th, she developed severe pain in her abdomen and requested to have the surgery done. She did survive the surgery, even to the point where they were able to remove the ventilator and she could communicate a bit Tuesday, but then went down hill Tuesday night and by Wednesday morning, the doctors said that she would not make it. She passed very comfortably and peacefully at around 4:30 Wednesday afternoon.

She will for sure be missed by all who knew her. She was an incredibly strong woman in many ways. Not just physically and mentally to go through all the health issues she had in her final years, but strong willed. If there was anyone who was going to make something happen, it was her. She was also not afraid to standup for what she believed in and would NOT back down from a fight to hold her ground. Some of my most vivid memories of her while I was growing up was of her going face to face with someone who had wronged her or one of her children. A few times I would even start to feel sorry for the other person. She would not yell or use threatening language, just would stand there like a rock and not give an inch until the situation was resolved to her liking.

Of course that same strength was applied to raising her children and it did not take all of us long to realize you did not try and argue or even negotiate with her! She did mellow out as she aged, even to the point where us children were able to tell her what to do, although I have to admit, I never grew comfortable with that privilege and did not exercise it much! 

I am at peace with her passing, knowing that she is with my dad and brothers, as well as the rest of the family members and friends who have passed. As is the case when anyone we love passes, she took a part of me that I will never get back, but has also left me with all the memories of her love for me.

For those of you reading this and are wondering about a service, the family has decided to wait until the first half of summer to hold a memorial for her. My brother lives up here in the Keweenaw and my sister in Oklahoma. Her grandchildren live in Washington state and Florida, so rather than create a chaotic situation by having a service in the days after her passing, we are going to wait until all the children are on summer break and allow us to comfortably plan her service.

As far as events in the Keweenaw go, winter just does not want to leave us for good yet. As mentioned, we drove through snow showers and snow squalls on the way home and it was snowing when we arrived home in Jake. Friday we had off and on snow showers and then by late afternoon into the evening, the snow intensified and we awoke to a fresh 6″ by Saturday morning. We did warm to 42 under a fairly strong April sun during the day and all of the snow that had fallen Friday night melted, plus some. We are already at 44 and it is only 11:15. There are some clouds today, but for sure more snow will melt. The forecast does not hold much more snow for us and temps in many of the days ahead look to reach into the upper 40’s and even some low 50’s, so perhaps spring is truly here in earnest. I doubt that we are done with seeing flake fall and perhaps even some minor accumulations, but we really have reached the time of the year when the weather is more spring like than winter.

I know I am ready for spring, as are about 99% of the locals. I am also ready for a quiet week and for my heart to start feeling the effects of its new hardware!

Good Night From the Keweenaw..
JD