In the annuals that would be a weeks worth of summer weather, this past week can best be described as: “About as Good as it Gets”. I guess we are being rewarded for the June we had, because things have been as close to perfect as it can get and look to continue to be that way. The week did start rather crisp, with temps in the upper 40’s Monday morning. However, the skies were cobalt blue and there was no wind. I would have to say that is about perfect weather for a morning walk with a light jacket on. I can say that with confidence because that is exactly what the pups and I did. They did not have light jacket on, but were very comfortable just the same!

With the temps so cool, the insects that can sometime harass you this time of the year were all still hiding somewhere, trying to keep warm. We are well past the main bug season that is otherwise known as June, but July and even the first week or two of August can sport some bothersome critters from time to time. This time of the year, the main bug issues are mosquitoes, deer flies and horse flies. The mosquitoes are an issue in the deeper woods at just about any time of the day or night, but if you are in the full sun are not an issue at all. The deer flies and horse flies are not very numerous at all, but do prefer the sunshine, so can be an issue on our morning walks sometime, especially for the pups, who seem to attract them better than I do.

Walking in that weather Monday morning reminded me of the mornings to come in September and early October, with similar conditions happening then. I am not ready for summer to go away just yet, but in about another month, when it is singing its swan song, I think I will be. I was thumbing through a catalog the other evening and it was the autumn edition, so of course it is filled with autumn clothing, shoes and other things that cater to that season and I have to admit, I did get a little twinge of excitement, thinking about autumn and then winter. But like I say, I am still enjoying the summer weather fully.

So I guess the main excitement in my life this past week was the completion of the master bathroom remodel. There was not much left to do, so I did not have to work too hard, but still put in about 2-3 hours of total time, much of it burning wood…more on that in a bit. I had to do a little digging, but I was able to find a “before” picture of the bath area. That was taken back in November of 2013, as we were completing the main work on the addition. I can also say that is about as good as it ever looked! The first time we filled the tub up full, it caused it to settle a bit and opened up the caulking in spots. Rather than fix that right away, I let it slide and the wall material was not tile, but rather faux tile on 1/4″ masonite. So that got wet where it meets the tub and the ugly started soon after. So for nearly 4 years we dealt with “tile” that looked like it has been stained.

So it was long overdue to remodel and get done right, and both Nora and I are happy with the results. Take a look for yourself. Oops.  Maybe this will help. That is real tile on top of real mortar, which is on to of real Schluter Kerdi membrane. Finally done right! I was not sure how to go about the trim job. I really like wood, but it does not typically do so well in a shower area. While working on the tile, my mind would wander through the different options. Our vanity and hanging wall cupboard are a pre-finished wood with a very dark stain or perhaps paint. I then remembered a technique in which you char wood to help make it rot-resistant. So I did some experimentation and developed a nice Shou Sugi Ban technique. The Japanese invented the process centuries ago to help make the siding on their structures rot-resistant and it has slowly been working its way into western building culture. The term literally translates to Burnt Cedar Board. Since I did not use cedar, but pine, I looked up the translation for Pine in Japanese and it is Pain. So I did Shou Pain Ban.

No matter what you call it, the technique was pretty fun to do and both Nora and I really love how it turned out. It matches the color of the vanity and cupboard nearly perfectly, yet will be rot-resistant and you can still see the grain. I actually ended up doing all 6 sides of each board, to make sure that all sides were chard and thus protected. Once burnt, the boards are left to cool, wiped down to remove any carbon build up and then a top coat can be put on or it can be left as is. I chose to leave it as is because as I was burning the wood, I noticed that the sap still in the cells of the wood would heat up and liquefy and then harden once the heat was removed. This left a thin, clear layer of what would be best described as varnish. Sap was a key ingredient in the early varnishes used in woodworking, so I just left things as nature had made them (with my help) and I guess we will see how things hold up over time. None of the trim pieces will ever be sitting in water and most probably won’t get more than an occasional drop or two on them, so most of the moisture exposure will come from the moisture in the air.

It is just a one step process, but I really wanted to get an even look, so I was pretty meticulous in my technique to make sure the charring process was uniform. So it probably took me as much time to do just that one step as it would have to use a paint or stain/topcoat. But more fun! So that project is all done and now I have a week off before moving on to the next and final project of the summer, adding a small addition to become our utility room and house our new gas fired boiler, clothes washer/drier and hot water heater. We will then gain a nice space directly off the kitchen that is currently the utility room and will become a pantry. All I am going to do is build the structure and let the pro’s handle all the new plumbing that will be needed, so it should not be too major of a project. At least that is what I hope for!

With the weather so nice this week, the Dee’s finally took to their bikes! Well, Gracie has been riding her’s a lot for the past 2-3 summers, but Nora and I got brand new bikes in spring of last year and hardly used them since. Unfortunately, Nora’s chain kept de-railing, so she turned around and headed back home shortly after we left, but Gracie and I kept going and put on a few miles. Even though I have been walking almost every day, it was amazing to see the different muscle groups used to ride a bike. We did not go too fast and there were only small stretches of roadway that were mildly uphill, but I was still feeling the burn! At the halfway point, we stopped and I took the best selfie of her and I that I could to remember the historic event by. I can also admit that I did feel pretty good when we got back and even was feeling a bit of an exercise buzz, so perhaps there will be more biking in my future. We sure have the places for it up here!

The pool and screened in porch have been seeing lots of action this past week. It seems that the girls can typically be found in one or the other at any given moment. I too have been partaking, but not as much as I wished and I hope to change that this week so Gracie does not feel she is playing second fiddle to all of my “chores”. Yesterday evening I found myself in the porch on the swing and was quickly joined by my body-man Huck. He pretty much goes where ever I do and can usually be found right at my side if there is room, or at my feet. In this case, the swing was made plenty big to allow for multiple bodies to be on it, so he wasted no time jumping up and hanging out with me the rest of the evening. Another so-so selfie to capture the moment.

This weekend was the weekend for the annual Central Reunion. Central is an old mining town northeast of Phoenix, just off the highway that- like many old towns up here- was once a booming community. Currently there are probably around 2 dozen buildings in various states. Many are still in very good shape and even used as summer get-a-ways and year round dwellings. Some are in the process of being re-claimed by mother nature and a lot of them are long, long gone. The town of central in its hayday had 1200 folks living in it. These days, probably less than a 10th of that will be there at any given time.

However, once a year, decedents of the original settlers, folks that have a tie to the site and even just some history buffs will gather to bring the town alive for a weekend. I do not know how long the reunion has been going on, but I do know at least 100 years, as this was the 100th year for the church service portion of the reunion. Still held in the original church in Central.

This year, Grace took part in the children’s choir that sang at one of the two church services that happened today. They had practice earlier this week and then the first service was at 9 am, the second at 11. As I drove up the gravel road into central, I could not believe how much activity there was. When it was built, I am sure that the church was fairly close to the center of town, as that is where many were put back in those days. Now days, the church is tucked away down one of the less descriptive roads in town. None the less, there were vehicles lined up down that road for quite a way.

In the busy days of Central’s life, it is said that over 200 people would gather to worship inside, with more outside listening it. The crowd today was not quite that large, but there was not much in the way of empty seating and still a handful of folks staying cooler by being outside and listening in. The service was well done and it was neat to see Gracie up with all the other singers, singing away. That was her face directly below the leaders left elbow.

The rest of the day has been spent in the pool and porch. It was too windy for me to fly the drone, otherwise I had hoped to get that thing airborne again. I do have some very neat shots from a drone for you though. They were sent to me by a visitor to the site that has become a friend and lives up here in the summer, Mark Upton. He is known for taking some striking photos and even has a calendar he puts together each year with a dozen or so of his favorites from the previous year.

Anyway, he found himself way up near the tip of the peninsula recently and got some great shots. Here is a shot of Keystone Bay and Point, with Manitou Island off in the distance. The inland lake off to the left is Schlatter Lake and the area of land without any trees to the right Mark said is an area that burned several years ago and has not fully re-generated yet. The other shot I have for you is of Manitou Island itself, along with the light by the same name at the far end. Somewhere near-by sits the wreck of the Mesquite, a modern-day coast guard bouy tender that hit a reef and was a loss. The next season, it was towed off the reef an into deeper water to become a fish habitat and dive spot.

So I guess that about covers it for this one. See you all next week!

Good Night from the Keweenaw..