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Nov 30-
    Everyday it gets a little better...  It really is amazing how injuries to the mental part of our beings will mimmic injuries to the physical part. Over time, there is a gradual improvement.  There can always be the occasional bad day or bad moment, but in the overall picture things improve.  That is how is has been going with the Dee Family.  Actually, Burt never really did seem too upset.  He has never been one to show too much emotion.  He loves it when Nora and/or I come home and gets excited and he will get excited when we say we are going for a walk, but other than that he has never been one to cry or get real excited.  I am sure that he misses her, but has been eating just fine since we had to put her down and also is excited to go for a walk, so I am very thankful for that.  Nora and I are also doing pretty good.  The emptiness is slowly filling and we will all be just fine.  I do not want to dwell on this topic, but did want to let you all know that we are all doing pretty good up here.  It helps a ton to have each other (can't begin to imagine what I would do without Nora and Burt) and we also have a very special place that we live in.  Still tons to be thankful for!
    I really do not have too much to report on.  We have been getting out for our afternoon adventures and will be thankful when this day passes so we can get back out into the woods.  Today is the last day of regular firearm deer season and that means we are safe to head back into the woods tomorrow.  Muzzle loading and second bow season are still going on, but those hunters number much smaller and are typically much more picky about what they shoot at.  Not that deer hunters that use a rifle are all careless or anything, but I like my odds in the woods after Nov 30th much better!
    I was hoping to take Burt up to the golf course for our walk today, but Old Blue would not start.  I have a battery charger on it right now, but fear it might be the starter that has gone not the battery.  Time will tell.  In any case, I do not have any pictures to share with you.  Quite frankly, you probably would not want to see what was going on up here on Sunday and Monday.  U G L Y !  Really something how we got two decent snow events this November and both were followed by a big thaw.  The rain on Sunday and Monday was really the pits, could hardly even go outside, although Burt, Nora and I did brave the elements Sunday afternoon and went for a very nice walk along the north shore.
    Yesterday around noon we started to pick up some snow and by evening everything was dusted.  2" overnight was enough to turn everything white again and it looks like we could be off to the races by tomorrow through the weekend and into early next week.  These lake effect events are always so hard to figure out exactly.  Just when you think you are going to get hammered, nothing happens and just the opposite can occur as well.  The Keweenaw is probably the trickiest spot in the UP to forecast for as most of the other LES belts up here behave themselves better.  I can add that the higher terrain up here picked up more than 2".  The higher terrain in Keweenaw County picked up about 5-6 and there were reports of up to 8" down near Mass City/Rockland.  I believe the Ironwood area also picked up close to 8".
    Things also look to be cold, not nasty cold, but still below average and well below freezing.  That will help to freeze things up too.  I can say that things are already starting to freeze.  The shallower lakes like Rice Lake are froze and there was a bit of ice on the Portage late last week and I bet by this weekend there will be a bit of ice as well.  None of our trails up here need the lakes to freeze and a lot of the wet areas that caused problems in the past have been fixed, so we should be pretty good to go once we get some snow.  Who knows, if we get the snow we are suppose to get in the next few days, the groomers might be out this weekend.
    My new sled is just about ready.  I needed to get the clutch and jetting set on it for this elevation and Al was going to perform some of his special clutching magic on it as well.  I did get to ride it for the first time a week ago when I took it down to Al's.  Not much of a ride, just down the street a few blocks, but enough to let me know that sled has a bit more kick to it that the 700.  Hopefully this weekend I can do some more serious testing of the clutch and carb work.  I also need to break in the 700 as it got a new crank this summer.
    My other two main reasons for writing today were 1) The folks that run the JohnDee.com Store wanted me to let all of you know that the last day to order items for deliver on or before the 24th of December is December 12th.
    My other reason is to say that by trusty ride for several years the Pol-Cat is up for sale on CrashedToys.Com.  I do not know how much it will actually fetch, but Joe from CrashedToys and I are combining forces and will be donating $500 of the sale to the Make A Wish Foundation which is the charity also receiving the proceeds from the 1st annual JohnDee.com Snowfest.  I can say a little about the sled.  I has a lot of miles on it, over 12K to be exact.  There are some battle scars on it as well, but none of them jump right out at you and none of them effect the performance of the sled.  The engine is still in great shape and starts right up in 2-3 pulls no matter what.  The track has 2 seasons on it and is a 1.35" "full wave" track, meaning the lugs go all the way across the width of the track rather than just sticking out like fingers.  I put the suspension from a 1997 Arctic Cat ZR in it.  It adds a ton more travel than the 1994 8" travel it did have.  It has one of Al's magic clutching jobs on it and to ride it you would never know it was a 1994 580cc motor.  I know before I got the 700 RMK, I could pretty much handle any 600 sled and did take a few 700's in sprints, so the clutching work is just amazing.  It really is a reliable sled and if I really had any need for it would have kept it in a heart beat, but I just did not need 3 sleds.  So would I recommend you go and get it as your primary sled?  Well, probably not if you plan to ride a lot.  If you only plan to take a few trips a year and put maybe 700-1000 miles on it a season, then it might be OK for you.  It would make a really nice backup sled, especially if you enjoy boondocking. That is basically what that sled is set up to do best.  I suppose to spice up things a bit I am also willing to throw in a back country tour up here in the Keweenaw to the person that buys it.  I cannot promise a full day tour as I have to work every day but Saturday, but we could certainly head out for 4-5 hours and have a blast.  You can even bring along a few of your friends.  So there you go.  Your chance to own the Pol-Cat and take a ride with me up here.  What could be better!  Just kidding!
    I guess that pretty much covers it for now.  Hopefully I will have some snowmobiling shots in the next entry!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -

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Nov 27-
    Once again, we all would like to give a huge thanks to our extended family on this site for the outpouring of support we got from you all.  It has been a tough past couple of days, but we are holding our own and all the kind words and concern has really helped to warm our hearts.  As mentioned, we are all doing pretty good considering the loss.  Boy, when the doctors said she had a very aggressive form of lymphoma, they were not kidding.  She really started to slip quickly this past week.  My whole concern ever since we got the bad news was that she was not to suffer one bit on our account.  I actually think that is what I was most stressed about from the time of diagnosis to the time of her passing.  I can say that she did not have any pain in her last few days and that her final moments were spent with those she loved the most, in her home she loved and in a very peaceful manner.  We were so fortunate to be able to have a saint by the name of Dr. Grant Olson be able to come out to the house on Friday with his assistant Robin Wakeham and help put Baileys to sleep.  Baileys was in my arms those final moments, with Burt and Nora at her side as well.  She was calm and relaxed and probably wondering what the heck all the fuss was about.  The actual passing was very peaceful.  The drugs went in and about 5 seconds later her head eased to the floor and a few moments later she was with the angels.  All I can say is that I pray that I can be so fortunate when my time comes.  She really passed from this life to the next in a peaceful and beautiful manner.
    But if there was every a creature that deserved it, she did.  I realize I might be a little biased here, but she was the sweetest, most kind hearted and fun loving being I have ever known.  Anyone who ever met her instantly fell in love with her and she had the ability to bring a smile to anyone in just seconds.  Right now the hole she left behind is quite large.  I still cannot get used to grabbing just one treat at treat time and I want to grab both leashes when it's time for the morning walk.  But I know in time the new routines will become second nature.
    If you haven't figured out yet, this journal is being dedicated to her.  I guess you could call it my eulogy to her.  Nora and I have been spending much of the past 2 days talking about all the things we loved so much about her and that made her so unique.  I have already mentioned how she was just this big old ball of sunshine.  She could brighten any moment and did so on countless occasions when we needed it. To her life was all about fun.  If it was fun, she HAD to be part of it.  It was like she was constantly on her first day of summer vacation.  Remember all the energy and happiness you had on that day?  That was her.  She was a very early riser, I believe because she was so excited to start the day and get busy having fun.  She had absolutely no problem showing her emotions.  I'd have to say that the strongest muscle in her body was the one that wagged her tail.  It just never stopped.  They say that a dogs way of smiling is to wag their tail, but Baileys could do both.  She actually could turn the sides of her mouth up and wag that big old yellow tail like a helicopter blade.  She also just loved to give out kisses.  One of her nicknames was the "Kissing Bandit" just because she just had to kiss you a few hundred times a day.  Sometimes kissing was not enough and she actually had to grab your hand or wrist and put the whole thing in her mouth.  Not to bite you, just to say: "I am so excited to see you I just have to have part of you inside my mouth!".
    I can also say with pride that she was "Daddy's Little Girl".  Not that I ever forced her to be, she just was.  I could really go nowhere without her being with me, including the bathroom!  She just loved to be with me and sometime I would feel bad about getting up from the living room to go into the office for 10 minutes to make sure the website had not exploded and she would follow me, lay down at my feet and fall asleep.  Only to have to get back up and follow me back into the living room or maybe the bedroom after my quick check of the site.  As much as she loved to give affection, she also loved to take it.  A hug or kiss on the forehead or cheek would get that tail just a wagging.  Another of her favorite things to do was to take a nap with us.  All I had to do was walk into the bedroom and sit on the bed and she would come running and find her way onto the bed and stake out her spot.  She just could not lay on the bed with you, she had to be touching you in some way.  Be it just leaning her back against your legs or your back or sometimes laying her head across your neck or chest.  She loved the physical contact.  Lived for it really.
    She could be a brat to her brother, but that was just on the surface.  Deep down she loved him as much as anyone and would love to cuddle with him as much as Nora or I. She also would just walk up to him while he was sleeping and give him kisses.  He took it about as well as any brother might take getting kisses from their sister, but it was cute.  The neat thing was in her last days I think they both knew what was going on and she did not act like a bratty sister and he seemed to want to be even more of a "big brother" to her.  They would cuddle together just like they did when they were pups and they just seemed to put all sibling rivalries aside and just take in as much of the final days as they could together.
    We all were just amazed at how fast the disease spread and took it's toll.  The last time I wrote a journal, she was still doing very good. The picture I posted below for her memorial was taken on Thursday the 17th of November while we on a walk over at the Lake Linden Park.  She was still eating anything she could get her teeth into and still getting around just fine.  On Saturday the 19th we went up to the property to take care of the burn pile and while I got the fire started, she just did one of the things she has always loved to do- lay in the snow.  She also managed to find a little stick to chew on and keep herself occupied while I tended to the fire.  Notice the ever watchful big brother in that last shot? Later that same day we all braved the north shore for a walk.  We did not walk the beach much because of the raw wind off the lake, but we did take a fairly healthy walk down the road there.  A neat thing happened while we were walking the road. A bald eagle appeared about 50 feet overhead and then proceeded to follow us while we walked down the road for at least 10 minutes.  I have never experienced anything like that with a bald eagle.  It was just soaring on the updrafts caused by the air coming off the smooth lake surface and hitting the trees on the shoreline.  In the whole time the eagle was overhead it did not have to flap it's wings once.  Nora and I both seemed to take the eagle as a sort of spiritual sign that everything was going to be just fine.  The creator had sent one of it's most magnificent beings to check on us and let us know he had everything under control, and he sure did- and does!
    The woods have been off limits to us since the 15th, but that does not mean that we cannot walk some nice areas.  On Sunday we headed up to one of our favorite roads to walk during deer season.  The snow was starting to melt, but it was still a very beautiful moment in our lives and both the hounds had a blast sniffing out all there was to sniff and walking as a family.
    Monday was the first sign of a slide in the way she felt.  Both Burt and Baileys have always loved to eat.  My brothers have dogs that will let food sit in their bowls and just go up to it and nibble a bit from time to time.  Not our two dogs, if there is food in the bowls, it needs to be eaten!  My brothers dogs will attest to that!  Well, on Monday morning Baileys did not eat her entire breakfast.  We thought, or probably more accurately hoped it was because she had been getting some snacks in the middle of the night to fend off the hunger caused by the steroid injection given to her to help battle the cancer.  She did take some treats on Monday, but she only ate about 1/2 of her dinner and I knew at that point the slide had started.  Tue she still was eating about 1/2 of her food, but we also started to supplement it with some safe human food that she liked and she would scarf that down.  I did start to notice her energy levels dropping on Monday and Tuesday though.
    Wednesday she actually had a pretty good day.  Nora was really concerned for her because of the fact that Baileys did not sleep much early Wednesday morning, but she actually ate most of her breakfast and was excited to go on the morning walk with Burt and I.  Wednesday afternoon we headed out to the beach at Big Traverse for our afternoon adventure and she seemed to be feeling pretty good.  She romped on the beach with her brother- even chasing him around a bit and even wanted to go and check out the new playground they set up for the warmer months.  Burt had fun, but also was the ever watchful brother.
    Thanksgiving day she started to slide more and really did not want to have much to eat at all, even her favorite- noodles.  I was really hoping she would want to have some Turkey Dinner as that is also one of her favorites and she did.  Here is a shot of her and her brother relaxing on the couch after their turkey dinner.  Ate about 2 cups.  However, I could see that things were progressing quickly in how she felt and with her energy dropping and he appetite just about gone I made the decision that we would put her down on Friday before that rotten cancer got the chance to give her any pain.  As mentioned we were blessed by the fact that the vet would come to the house and help us say good bye.  Most of Friday morning was very peaceful.  I had a very light day as far as work went and we actually made a trip up to the property that morning so that she could have one more good lay in the snow.  Other than getting in and out of the truck, that is about all she seemed to have the energy for.  She was not in pain, but two of the main things she lived for; eating and exploring were really not a part of her life and that made the decision to put her down all the more firm.
    Once we got back to the house we had a bit of time before the vet was to arrive.  We actually came to the time in the morning when they both would get a little rawhide chip to chew on and it just warmed my heart that she wanted to take one and chew on it.  That was one of the routines she really looked forward to every day and I was so glad she got to partake in it one last time.
    I have already covered the details of her last moments.  An hour or so after that Nora, Burt and I went for a walk at the Lake Linden Park.  All day there had been a very pretty lake effect snow going on.  There was little to no wind, so the flakes just fell straight to the ground and they were those big fluffy lake effect flakes, not the tiny ones.  That snow kept up all day, including our walk at the park, but for a brief moment, the sun peaked it's head out and in that brief instant I knew she was back with the angels, but her spirit was still all around us. I can still feel her spirit here with me.  It lifts me up and makes me smile just as she did when she was physically here.
    We all miss her, but will never forget her.  She will always live on inside me and her and her brothers teachings are a big responsibility for what is good about me.  They taught me the true lessons of life, like only a true friend could.  Some have said that I have lost a pet, some have said I lost a family member. That is all true, but to me I have lost something different, something much, much more.  I have lost my best friend.  A friend that knew me better than I knew myself, but always let me be myself and loved me for it.  I may have lost that best friend, but I have two more by my side and we all will never lose what Baileys gave to us for as long as we live. There is a song that ever since I first heard it I knew I would identify with the loss of Burt and Baileys.  It's by Garth Brooks and it's called "The Dance".  It pretty much sums up my attitude about life as a whole and my attitude about things at this very moment.  I could have missed the pain, but then I would have had to miss the dance.  What a dance it was.  Thanks Baileys, thanks for everything.
    A really neat slideshow was created by a visitor to the site and sent to me, I will sign off with it.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Nov 25-

Good Bye Sweetie.  Thank You for Everything!!!

Nov 18-
    Nora and I would like to start out this entry by thanking you all for your very kind, loving and thoughtful posts and e mails.  It has really helped to cushion the blow knowing that there are so many folks that are thinking about us.  I did get a call from the vet and the lymphoma was confirmed by the biopsy.  The lymphoma type is actually a very aggressive one and without any treatments she likely has weeks left with us.  I have actually been able to come to terms with what is happening and what will happen in a few weeks and actually am at peace with things.  The first few days after I found out were very, very rough, but slowly and steadily I have been able to grasp what is happening and focus on the positive things like how wonderful her life has been.  We have decided not to use any chemotherapy.  The success rate with this type of cancer is actually very good in the fact that 80% of all dogs treated are able to attain a remission.  However, there is a difference between a remission and a cure.  A remission is when the cancer is shrunk to the microscopic level, but is still there and eventually comes back harder and faster and usually with a resistance to the chemo.  We all know what a cure is.  My life's purpose for the rest of her life is to make her as comfortable and happy as can be.  The chemo would have at least some kind of side effects and then after about 6-10 months of remission we would be right back to where we started.  If there was a good chance that we could cure her with the chemo, I would strongly consider it, but I just cannot ask her to go through the discomforts of chemo just so that we can have her with us for a few more months.
    I am even thinking about not giving her any steroids either.  The vet gave her an injection of a steroid last Friday after her surgery to remove one of the lymph nodes and the past few nights she has been panting in spells and she is always thirsty and hungry and that is not a great way to live out the rest of your life either.  From what I have been able to gather, she will not have any pain throughout the course of the rest of her life.  I had a cancer of the lymph system and it got extremely serious (more advanced than hers is right now) and I never felt any pain with mine.  So I am comforted by the fact that the cancer will make her tired, but not in any pain.  I have been told that the cancer will likely spread to her spleen and then her liver.  Once in the liver for a while she will not be able to keep food down and then it will be time to say our good byes.
    She is doing very good right now and like I said I am at peace with things and feeling about as good as one could with things currently going on.  Burt does seem to maybe sense something is up, but does not seem to be upset or anything, just aware of something.  Nora seems to be doing well too.  She, Burt and I will be a wonderful support team for each other through all of this and we will all be just fine once time has been allowed to work it's wonders.  So again, thank you all for your kind words and support, it is very much appreciated and has helped!
    We have been very busy having fun the last week or so.  The last journal talked about the weekend.  On Monday it was sort of the calm before the storm up here, so I thought it would be neat to take a trip to one of our favorite beaches.  It was not exactly what most folks would consider "beach weather" with temps around 40, a breeze off the cold waters of Lake Superior and some clouds, but the 4 of us are pretty tough and actually had a great time.  We have been taking lots of pictures and video.  I actually have 30 shots to share with you and we have used up a full video tape in the camera already.  One of the shots we took on Monday as a nice family photo on the beach.  Can never have too many of them.  Of course we did not arrive at such a nice shot in one take! There was this one with Baileys still showing she has plenty of spunk left. There was this one that was not framed right and I was goofing off.  Nice going dad!  Then there is this one, which is actually my favorite.  She sure is a sweetie.
    After the posing, the hounds were released to have their fun.  Burt did not waste too much time heading for one last dip in the lake.  I can tell he is getting a little older and wiser as he only waded up to about his belly and decided that was far enough.  Baileys stuck her feet in and took a little drink, but she has never been much of a swimmer.  She's more into exploring things on land and enjoying the view of the lake more than the feel.  Me too (fsv).  As we were finishing up our walk, something compelled me to turn around and I was taken by the sight of our four sets of footprints in the sand as the sun set on a beautiful Keweenaw autumn day.  It always amazes me that most of the time it is the simplest things in life that are the most glorious.
    Tuesday the weather was starting to turn a little foul, with winds picking up and some drizzle and light rain that developed in the afternoon.  A storm was promising to bring some meaningful snow and I figured we would not be needing the lawnmowers any more, so the hounds and I hauled them and the garden hoses up to the property to store them in the shop.  No pictures of that adventure, but it did stop raining long enough for us to do a little exploring of the woods.  We did not venture far because it is deer season and we did not have any blaze orange on.  No one is hunting our land, but better to be safe than sorry!
    The rains started changing to snow Tuesday evening and then about 11 pm they intensified and by sun up Wednesday we had about 6-7" of new snow on the ground.  Here is a front of house shot Wednesday.  It was really neat to have some snow on the ground and it always amazes me on how fast and dramatically the view of things can change with a good snowfall. Here is a shot of the neighborhood coated in white.  The snow up to that point had been very wet and heavy and stuck to everything and I mean everything.  Here is a shot of the oak tree across the street. Here is a shot of my frozen anemometer.  It has not measured wind speed or direction since about 2 am Wednesday.
    Wednesday afternoon we waited for Nora to get home and then headed up to the property to play in the snow a little. The hounds wasted no time in exploring things up there.  We also stopped playing for long enough to take another family photo.  That one will likely be used with our Christmas card this season. There was about 8-10" of snow on the ground up there, but the blazer had no problem getting through it and making a path down the driveway.  First tire tracks in the snow on the driveway.  After the family photo op (first pic was the winner that time) we did a little exploring in the snow.  Now before people start e mailing me about how we should have had blaze orange on, by law we did not and for practicality sense we were never really that deep into our woods, only about 100 feet from the clearing.  So we were about as safe as if we had been in the clearing.  In any case, you don't have to travel too far from the clearing to be in the thick of things.
    Wednesday afternoon and into the overnight hours we picked up another 12" of new snow.  Most of that was the light and fluffy lake effect type, perfect to put on top of 8" of the snow cement we got earlier.  The hounds and I went over to the Lake Linden Park for our afternoon adventure.  There were still some lake effect snow squalls blowing in off the lake and every once in a while it came down pretty good. Between the 6-8" of heavy snow and the 12" of additional fluff, we went from bare ground to "belly deep" in about 36 hours.  Here is a shot of Burt showing you don't need to own a snowmobile to have fun in the snow.  It's just amazing how much they love the snow, probably as much as I do.  I wonder if I had an influence on them.  The heavy, wet snow did a good job of flocking all the young red pine back behind the camp ground at the park and we were treated to a really pretty sight with them in the foreground and the lake and some rays of sun in the background (FSV).
    We picked up another inch last night to bring out total for the past 3 days to 19".  Looks like a bit more tonight and probably some more next week.  Should be plenty for opening day of snowmobile season on the 1st.  This is the most snow we have had on the ground at our house this early in the season since I moved up here.  I am really encouraged by this. Big snow seasons always start strong.  Of course there is the odd year that starts strong and then fizzles, but you cannot have a big snow year up here without running pretty strong from start to finish.  We just get too much snow in a regular season to have a slow start and still end up with a big season.  Here is a very wintry picture of the front of the house from this morning.  It also felt and sounded very wintry when I went out to take it.  The temp was 5 degrees above zero and the snow was all crunchy.
    This afternoon we all headed out to the property again.  I plan to burn the scrap wood pile tomorrow, but needed to dig it out first today!  Burt was helping out and also doing some sniffing.  Here is a shot of Baileys doing some sniffing.  We also brought out some pumpkins to smash and feed the deer with. Both Nora and I were really surprised to see that the dogs love pumpkin!  One of the things I have read about is how a healthy diet can help fight cancer.  This is mostly when combined with a medical treatment, but Nora and I figure if they love something that is also good for them, we may as well give them that.  So we plan to pick up squash at the store and see if they like that too.
    We did not spend too much time at the property.  We will be back up there tomorrow to burn the scrap pile. With the rest of the afternoon we headed north a bit to the higher terrain of Keweenaw County.  There are only a few places that you can go by auto and get to the higher terrain of Keweenaw County and one of my favorites is Phoenix Farm Road.  Now before all of you plan a drive up there on your next visit here let me just say that there really is nothing that special up there.  It's just a road that heads up a hill outside of Phoenix.  No farms can be seen and the road just dead ends.  Why I like it so much is that it is very quiet and perfect to take a walk on with the hounds at any time of the year.  Today we found ourselves the only ones on it and as peaceful as it gets.
    One of the hounds favorite things to do is to stick their heads (and sometimes whole bodies) into the culverts that run under the roads and old railroad tracks up here.  What is amazing is that they don't need to see the culvert to know it's there.  Today we were walking along the road when Burt just jumps off it into the snow and starts digging.  A little bit later and he is sticking his head into a culvert!  Baileys patiently waited for her turn and then explored the culvert as well.  We had a really fun time this afternoon walking along the road, watching the hounds do their things and just enjoying the moment. As we passed a little two track going off into the woods, I could not help but think about the upcoming riding season.  It's little tracks like that which are so much fun to explore on sled in the winter. The walk over and feeling very contented in the experience we piled back into the truck and headed back down to Hwy 41.  Just before you reach the end of the road and the Hwy, the snowmobile trail crosses the road.  Here is a shot of the trail, just sitting there waiting for all the snowmobilers to arrive.
    On the way home we took the scenic route, taking Cliff Drive rather than 41.  The cliffs were really pretty (FSV)with the trees all coated in snow.  Right now both hounds are sound asleep after their busy day.  I am probably not far behind. I had a busy day too and it started at 4:30 this morning, just like they all do during the week.
    I have not taken the 800 for a spin yet.  For one I have wanted to spend as much time with my family as possible. However, it also is still setup for the altitude out west, so the carbs need to be adjusted. Plus the woods are off limits right now, so I really could not go for an honest to goodness ride.  I have a bunch of stuff to add to it as well and wanted to get those items added before I take it out.  I have a feeling that I will be out taking it for a shakedown ride soon and of course there will be some shots of the first ride.  We look to be off to a fast start this winter and that holds some exciting prospects.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Nov 13-
    Once again, I had plans to write sooner, but things this week got rather hectic and my writings had to be put aside.  I even had some nice material with the storm of last Wednesday, which I will cover in a moment, but first I have some very sad news.  Last Tuesday morning while giving Baileys one of her many pets for the day, I noticed a lump on her neck.  My initial reaction was one of gut wrenching fear.  I battled cancer when I was a child (another story for another journal) and that is exactly how they found mine- a lump on the neck.  So that morning I called their vet in Marquette to schedule an appointment for her.  I had to do some things Tuesday and the storm would be going full force Wednesday, so I scheduled it for Thursday.  On Tuesday she only had the one lump on her right side, but on Wednesday a lump had appeared on her left side too.  That was actually a little comforting to me as I knew that a tumor could not grow overnight, so my thought was that her glands had become infected.  My only concern was that she has been on antibiotics for a few months trying to battle a skin infection on her chin, so I was a little worried about what kind of an infection could develop in her glands that would develop and thrive with all of those antibiotics going into her system.
    Nora was able to join us on the trip to Marquette, which was a great thing, especially since she offered to do the driving. We got to the vet and Baileys was examined and the vet gave us the bad news that he feels she has lymphoma.  It was her lymph nodes on her neck that were swollen and the other lymph nodes on her body were also swollen.  The only way to be sure is to do a biopsy of one of the lymph nodes.  So we had a very sad ride home Thursday evening.  I actually rode in the back of the truck with her, while Nora and Burt got us home.  Friday morning after my morning work Baileys and I headed back to Marquette to have the biopsy done.  That surgery went well.  The vet was kind enough to let me hold her as they put her under and I was able to be there by her side when she woke up.  In about an hour after the surgery, she was feeling good enough to go home, so we wasted no time and headed home.  I have been in hospitals and had more than my fair share of surgeries and know how nice it is to have someone you know and love at your side when you wake up and also know that I feel the recovery goes better the minute I leave the hospital and get home.
    The vet seems to think that there is about a 90% chance it is lymphoma.  The other 10% chance it being some kind of an infection that is resistant to the antibiotics she was taking.  So I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that she has lymphoma.  I am not trying to be negative about things, just realistic.  I did do some research on canine lymphoma Friday after getting home and it looks like Baileys will have a few weeks to be with us in this life.  The vet did give her a steroid injection that can help a bit.  He as seen a dog survive for 5 months with the steroid injections, so we will likely keep those up as it is a simple shot with the only side effects being she is more hungry and more thirsty- which we can remedy pretty easily.  The vet does not speak very highly of chemotherapy.  My research on the internet so far has seemed to contradict what he has said a bit, but I need to do some more research to determine what is the best course of action.  Baileys has had a wonderful life and is getting up there in age.  What is most important to me is that the rest of her days (however many) are spent in comfort and in the loving company of Burt, Nora and I.
    I'm sorry if you turned to this journal holing for some fun stories of our adventures up here, but I felt that I needed to tell you all this for a couple of reasons.  Number one is that I think there are a lot of you out there that feel connected to us and would have wanted to know what was going on.  Secondly, I am not myself right now.  Although I have feared something like this could happen, once it did it really has hit hard.  Both Burt and Baileys have gotten me through some of the roughest times of my life and have been a huge part of my life for almost the past 10 years.  For the past 7 years they have been able to be by my side 24/7/365.  I feel blessed beyond words to have been able to have that kind of a relationship with them and will make the most of every day, minute and second I have left with them.  They taught me that doing that is what's most important in life and now that lesson is being practiced to the up most.
    I am also blessed by the fact that we do still have some time left and that she will not have to suffer in death.  There is a vet up here that will come to the house to put her down, so she will not even have to endure the stress of going to the vet to be put down.  I have Burt and Nora for support, something that I don't think I could get through this without.  So it will be a difficult next few weeks or months, but we will make the most of it and try to embrace all that we have in this moment and try not to worry about the future too much.
    So the bottom line is that updates to the journal may not be as frequent, or maybe more- I just do not know.  However, I wanted you all to know what was going on in case it seemed like something was different.  I can also add that I would welcome any help with questions that pop up in the Ask John or General Discussions.  That is if you know the answer or can find it with a web search.  So please feel free to help me out in those areas if you want.  At least for now.
    On Wednesday we did get out to the lake to see the storm do it's thing to Superior.  I wanted to head down to the upper entry on the south side as that is where I have experienced the largest waves.  For most of the shoreline of the Keweenaw, there seems to be a reef off shore about 1/2 mile or so that seems to break up the larger waves.  At the entry, there does not seem to be that reef, so the waves seem to come in full sized.  They did some redemption work out there like they did to the Lake Linden Sands. They actually made it so that you can drive your vehicle out to the lake shore, which was nice because it would have been a nasty walk from the old parking lot to the shoreline.  At times the wind would blow so strong that I could barely even stand up.  The peak gust at the airport in Calumet was 66 mph and the peak gust at Stannard Rock about 50 miles east of the Keweenaw and 50 miles north of Marquette was 71 mph.  That's only 4 mph less than hurricane strength.
    We did make it to the upper entry and I did take some shots. This is a shot of the breakwater to the upper entry (fsv).  The waves were about 10-15 feet high at that point with an occasional monster that seemed to be closing in on 20 feet high. Here is a shot with the navigational aid almost completely obscured by a breaking wave.  That is actually the shot that I sent down to Tom Skilling at WGN in Chicago that he used on air Wed night and in the Tribune on Thursday. I was able to get into a position (without putting myself in harms way) to be able to take a shot looking right down the breakwater.  Would not have been wanting to be out there!  There looked to have been a little overwash from the waves that flooded the roadway from the old parking area to the shoreline.
    With the fencing they put up out there we did not walk around out there and the woods were off limit on a day like that so we just headed home and walked out on the Lake Linden Sands.  The hounds did well in the wind, probably better than me.  I did not get blown over, but there were a few close calls.  Here is a shot of a very angry Torch Lake.  Moments before that shot was taken, the wind was so strong that you could not even see the lake with all the spray coming off of it.  There were also a few snow flurries that fell while we were out driving around and at one time we were doing about 45 mph and the flakes were actually passing us up!  Out on the sands, the flakes felt like bird shot hitting me in the face.  I think I actually had some small sores on my face from where they hit.
    That was the first really big wind storm we have had up here for quite some time and needless to say there was more than just a few trees that fell.  We actually went out to the property late Wednesday afternoon and thankfully all was well out there.  The winds started blowing pretty hard at about 5:30 in the morning and when the cam at the property updated Wed morning I joked to Nora that the workshop must still be standing.  With that comment made, the cam failed to update any further, so I actually got a little worried.  Not that the building collapsed, but that a tree may have fallen on it.  Not the case, just a software glitch.  While in the shop while the winds were blowing, it did not even creak.  I could hear the wind roaring outside, but the building stood solid. I think all that 1" siding on it really strengthened it up.
    We then went home to find that the winds had done a number on the snowstation.  The snow platform had been blown off and the depth gauge was all out of sorts.  We are getting ready to have another big blow up here today and I have temporarily taken down the platform and the gauge.  The new anemometer worked like a charm.  I recorded a gust to 46 mph, but I have a feeling it probably gusted stronger than that, but in the random nature that gusts work, it may have missed the anemometer.  One thing that did happen is that the wind was so strong it blew the directional element of the anemometer off.  All I have to do is turn the pipe it is on, but really something how strong the winds were.
    We did not lose any trees, but our neighbor did and it fell on our other neighbors backyard and crushed their fence.  If the tree had been about 20 feet taller, it would have hit their house.  On Thursday afternoon before heading off to the vet we went up to the tracks for our afternoon walk and surveyed the damage.  Not as bad as I thought it might have been, but still quite a few trees and limbs down.
    Well, it looks like I have come to the end of this one.. I sure hope I did not get you all down too much with our news about Baileys.  Please know that she is in no pain what so ever, I never had any pain with my cancer either and mine got as serious as it can get.  Her spirits are still good and we still have some great days ahead of us.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Nov 7-
    Gonna slip a quick one in here.  I have a few things to talk about and a bit of spare time, so I may as well get out a journal entry.  We are actually in a pretty quite time of the year up here.  Not necessarily quiet from a weather standpoint, but from an activity standpoint.  The color show is all over, bear season is over, main firearm deer season is approaching, but not here and snowmobile season is still 3 weeks and 3 days away.  The weather has actually been fairly quiet up here.  We dodged one little snow event yesterday.  We did pick up a few flakes in the afternoon.  Here is a shot of the first snow falling on the shop and here is a shot of the snow coming down a little heavier while we were taking a walk on the snowmobile trail up at the property.  It never came down hard enough for long enough to get any accumulation up here, but in areas of the central and eastern UP they picked up as much as 3-6".  Even a report of as much as 8" in northern Luce county.
    I can honestly say (and this really is no lie) that I am not that jealous of the snow in the eastern UP.  Since moving up here I have mellowed out a little as far as early season snow goes.  Sure I will always take it, but in reality, I don't start to get too excited to get snow until we are in about mid November.  That is the time that we could start to hang onto what we get and that is what really counts as far as I am concerned.  Last year places up here in the Keweenaw picked up nearly a foot of snow in mid October, but it all melted within a few days and it's the melting part I can really do without.  So, as pretty as it is when it is falling, if it is not going to stick around and be useful, then I really do not miss getting passed over by it.
    Now, with that said, I am jealous of the snow they are getting out west in places like Togwotee and Cooke City.  There the snow is getting pretty deep and will be there to stay.  They have had a little melting today, but new snow will fall in the next few days and it will also get colder.  So I have been checking those cams out at first light and check them a few times during the day too and they get my blood pumping!  Our own weather does not look to provide much snow for the next week or so.  One bit of light snow or flurries is possible Wed and then another is possible by about Sun.  There are some signs of a pattern change to take place as we head through next week, in fact one model is saying a huge storm to hit by the middle to end of next week, but I am not going to allow myself to get too excited about that right now.  This same model yesterday said it was going to be in the upper 40's to low 50's for that same time period.  So I'd say it's having issues!  None the less, the model is at least indicating what is possible around this time of the year and that is a little exciting.
    I had my first dream about riding the 800 last night.  At least it was the first dream that I can remember about riding it.  The only things I remember about the dream was that I could go anywhere and do anything on it.  Others were getting stuck all over the place and I could just ride up to them, help them out and then ride off.  No hill was too steep and no powder too deep.  I know the first time I get stuck, I will have a good laugh at that dream!  I can say that having the 800 in the garage does make me a little more anxious for snow and I suppose that a quick 8" would have been enough to take it out for a spin, but it is still setup for a higher altitude and so I can't really let it all out until I change the settings in carburetors for my elevation.  I would not want to blow it up before the season even starts!  The adjustment of the carburetor does not come into play until the throttle is open over 1/2 way, so I could scoot around the neighborhood a little with no fear of harm.
    I have already ordered up some accessories for it, things like a windshield bag, handlebar bag and a few other items that should help out it's performance a little, so I will be watching for the UPS truck in the next few days!  Always fun to anticipate those brown boxes from the big brown truck!  Just like a kid at Christmas.
    While out at the property the other day, I did spread some carrots and sugar beets in view of the camera.  I'm not sure if you can actually see them, the carrots may be in view just past the driveway where the trailer used to be.  I also do not know the rules about baiting if you are not hunting.  I know if you are hunting then you cannot have more than 2 gallons of bait out at one time and so I put out about a gallon of carrots and a gallon of sugar beets.  I stayed away from corn to avoid it rotting.  There have been tracks out there since we finished building, so eventually they will find the bait.  I also hope to put some kind of a snow stick up there, but looking at where the camera is aiming and the fact that we are actually going to try and keep the driveway open this winter, the stick may have to go over by where the trailer was (where the cabin will be) and that may be too far away.  We'll see.
    I have also been able to get the weather station fully functional.  I am still working on the page with the charts and data and hope to have it up sometime this week.  It is nice to have an accurate wind gauge going.  Will be neat when the west winds are howling!
    My only other item is a picture to share with you of the School Forest this past Saturday.  Nothing really too special, just a shot of the woods, with the trees all bare.  This really is one of my favorite times of the year.  Great hiking weather, the woods all quiet before the storms and the anticipation of the deep winter snows to come.  That is one of the best things about living here is that they will come, it's a guarantee!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Nov 3-
    I can't believe it has almost been a whole week again.  Things have been a little crazy around here lately.  Not from a bad sense, but just from a busy sense.  The weekend was pretty busy.  We went to the Calumet football playoff game with the Wescots from Lac La Belle Lodge on Friday- hooking up for pizza first.  The wood for the cabin was delivered on Friday evening too, but we were not there when it came.  On Saturday the plan was to head up to the property and move all the wood for the cabin into the shop so that it can dry even further over the winter and will be at a decent moisture content when it comes time to start using it next spring.  I knew that there would be a pretty healthy amount of wood to move, but I think both Nora and my mouths dropped and eyes bugged when we turned the corner on the drive way and saw this!  Yep, that's all the framing members that we will need for the cabin, but all the outside siding and interior ceiling and wall paneling.  I will be making my own tongue and groove paneling for the ceiling and exterior walls and will use drywall for the few interior walls we will have.  Next season all we will need to purchase is the materials for the foundation, the roof trusses, sheeting for the roof and loft to get the building up and shelled in.  Then of course there is the plumbing, electrical, floor coverings, doors and windows, so we still have a ways to go, but it is nice to have the framing members on site and paid for already.  I will have lots of work ahead of me next spring.  I will need to surface all the framing lumber as they are in true 2 x dimensions right now.  But the way I figure, April is always a sort of depressing month with not much to do, especially the second half of the month, so that is when I will move the shop equipment up there and get going!
    Getting back to the wood moving, Nora and I were able to get all the 1 x stock moved in the morning.  Here is pile number one and here is pile number 2.  It was getting on lunch time and it was also a beautiful day (one of the only ones with sunshine in the past 2-3 weeks) so I also wanted to take advantage of the day and take the hounds for a nice walk in the woods, so after all the 1 x stock was moved and stacked, we headed home.  After dinner Saturday we headed back up to take care of the rest of the wood.  I knew it would get dark before we finished, but I brought some lights up there so that we could work once the sun set.  The first wood members we worked on that evening were the 2 x 10's.  They were beasts as they were still pretty wet and were also 12 feet wide.  It took Nora and I both just to move one board at a time.  Thankfully we did not have too many of those!  Next we moved the 12 foot 2 x 6's and ended up with this pile.  The last pile of wood was the 8 foot 2 x 6's (the pile on the right hand side).  It was completely dark by the time we finished and when I turned off the lights, I could not believe how dark it was.  I could not even see my hand in front of my face!  I forgot how dark it can get up here in the woods when the skies are overcast.  Nora helped me stumble to the truck and then we were able to resume normal activity with the dome lights of the truck and then the headlights, but wow, is it dark up there!  Will be good for viewing the stars and northern lights.  I did get up there on Sunday to take a picture of the front of the shop with all the wood put away.  It is really something to have all that work done and it is also the first time in over a month that the front of the shop has been free of all lumber.
    I can't really remember what we did on Sunday other than I have work I need to do for my business on Sunday and I am sure we took a walk somewhere!  Monday was Halloween, so that kept us pretty busy.  Plus on Monday I was working on getting the web camera for the property going.  There were a few hurdles to get past and so the web cam prep work carried into Tuesday, but by Tuesday evening I had that all ready to go.  It was too late to go up and setup the cam on Tuesday evening and then on Wednesday I got to go down and meet up with Doug from CrashedToys.com and pick up the 800 RMK.  Before loading the Pol-Cat up to take down with me, I hopped on it and posed for one last shot.  It really is a great sled and I almost did not want to part with it, but we really do not need it and it would just sit there, so I figured it would be better to get rid of it and let someone else have fun with it.  Also before loading it up, I left my mark on the sled.  Actually I have left many marks on that sled, but this one will be fairly recognizable that I left it.  Who knows, maybe that will fetch another 10-20 bucks in the auction!  We plan to auction it off in early December.  I will be making the announcement in here and probably in other areas of the site as to when it is up for auction.
    Driving down to northern Wisconsin yesterday to do the sled swap with the Pol-Cat sitting in the bed of ol' Blue, I felt as though I had achieved another milestone in becoming a true Yooper.  On the way back, I think I even enhanced that milestone, with not just a sled in the back of the truck, but a sled that was worth 3 times the value of the truck!  Plus I was thinking that the sled was long enough that if there had been snow, I could have flipped a coin to see which device carried which one back to Lake Linden!  I am really psyched to have the 800 here.  I think I was trying not to get myself all worked up about it when it was still down with the CrashedToys crew, but now that it is here, I am pumped! and pumped for snow!  It looks like we may even get a little up here later this weekend.  Not that I am going to be able to go cruising down the trails, but maybe a quick little lap around the yard or something.  I did start it twice and both times it started on the second pull- that is a great omen!  Nora is psyched to have the 700 as her ride now too.  Hopefully we will be able to take some fun rides this season.  It's always fun to head out for dinner on the sled.
    I did get the cam setup at the property today, although for some reason the dial up connection was not working.  I have been having problems with that lately and need to call the internet provider that I use for a dial up account (runs the trail cam and also doubles as my backup when the cable internet is down) and see what is going on.  The cam at the property I am going to call "Construction Cam" while we are doing construction and then "Wildlife Cam" once we are done.  The cam will be put in the woods up at the property and you'll be able to see what creatures are roaming around in our woods.  I would suspect we will see plenty of deer, some bear, coyotes and who knows what else.  Seems like I have already written all of this, but oh well, is fun enough to think about and mention twice!  The cam is set to automatically reboot like the trail cam, so maybe the dial up will be working tomorrow.  If it is, I will make the image it takes available. The link will be on the AL Cam page.
    The last item I have been working on the past week or so is the weather station. I did receive the station last week, but the anemometer did not work and I also needed the software and interface hardware to have the weather station talk to one of my computers.  I got the software on Tuesday and the replacement anemometer came today and all are working perfectly.  It is neat to have a working anemometer, that is the first time I have had that.  The original LaCrosse stations anemometer did not function correctly out of the box (even though they claimed there was nothing wrong with it) and then stopped working all together.  I am really happy with my new Davis station.  Granted it has only been going for a few days, but it seems like a better system altogether and I have heard nothing but good things about them.
    I am going to be doing the weather info on the AL Cam a little differently.  The setup I had before is back up, but I plan to actually create a whole separate weather data page.  The Virtual Weather Station software can plot out some really neat graphs and other displays, so I will be working on a page with all that info, but it may take a little while to figure it all out.
    So I guess that gets you all caught up on my doings for this time.  Who knows maybe the next time I will have some pictures with snow in them to share with you all.  A nice thought to end it on.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
 
 
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