August 29-
    Here is it, the final entry for August 2010 and the final entry for summer of 2010! For the past week or so, my spirits have been pretty good knowing that summer is on it's way out and my second favorite season is fast approaching. We are in another little heat spell, but I am tolerating it just fine. In fact, even though we hit 93 here at the cabin yesterday and look to be headed there again today, it has not been too bad. Thanks largely to the fact that the humidity has not been to bad. Yesterday's dewpoints were in the low to mid 50's and today we have had Td's (weather slang for dewpoint) in the upper 50's to low 60's. Looks like we are going to stay in the 60's for Td through early Tuesday, but then a front looks to come through and cool us back down and drop the humidity and there are some signs that this type of heat may be gone for the season once it leaves.
    We also had a front come through here last Tuesday. It did not produce much more than a sprinkle here, but I was in Marquette when it came through around noon and it poured for about 10 minutes there. Temps on Wednesday and Thursday were nice and comfy, along with lower humidity and the temps climbed on Friday, but humidity remained low. In fact, I had to wear a jacket Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings on the walk with the pups. Yesterday was warm, but not hot and this morning was cool, but not cold.
    I had a bit of a stomach bug bother me for most of the week, so I did not venture too deep into the woods with the pups this week. We did take a few short jaunts into the bush, but were turned back prematurely on all of them, due to the call of mother nature. Don't know where I got it from. All the eggs up here were suppose to be free from the recall. All I know is it was no fun having to deal with that for 5 days straight. On Friday I picked up some probiotic tablets and ever since taking them all has been well. I sure will be keeping those on hand from now on!
    I was able to get some more work done around the house though. I finished the lift for the topper and have it all stored up and out of the way. It is not a permanent spot for it as it is in the wood working shop, but will do for the next few years and will be a great way to get it up and out of the way and I can also lift it and lower it back onto the truck all by myself. So putting it on and taking it off will be a whole lot easier this winter.
    On Friday, Al showed up with a load of wood for me. 6 cord on the truck and I think that combined with what we still have will get us through the winter. At least through the dead of winter. If I have to pick up a bit more in late March or early April, that is not a big deal, but we probably still have enough to get us pretty deep into November and what is on the truck should easily give us 4 months more, if not longer than that. Now the issue is to cut and stack it. I cannot use a chain saw, but it looks like September 24th we are going to be having a wood cutting party here at the cabin. I think with two saws going, a couple of runners and a stacker, we should be able to rip through that wood in a day. Anyway, anyone looking for a reason to come to the beautiful Keweenaw that weekend. Feel free to let me know and I will get you directions to the cabin. The more the merrier!
    The Houghton County Fair started this past Thursday and will be ending today. Nora, Grace and I headed down to take it in on Friday. The main purpose was to let Grace seen the animals, so that was our first stop. That was us in front of some bunnies. Here she is with Nora checking out one of the horses. I think the smile on her face in that picture will also put a smile on her Aunt Jeni's face. And Jen, she loved looking at all of the animals. Here she is checking out one of the cows and some goats. The owner of the goats saw us looking at them and he came over and asked if we wanted to let Grace go into the pen and pet them, so we did and what did Grace end up doing almost right away? Grab one of their tails! The goat did not mind at all, but we did not let her do that any more, but she was thrilled to be able to touch them. The last stop was to the swine barn to see where bacon comes from. Daddy loves bacon!
    It was then off to sample some of the fair food. I have to say that I was a little disappointed in what was there. It has been many years since I have been to that fair, but I thought that the selection and quality was better the last time I went. I know that other fairs I have been to have awesome food. Well, not awesome from a health stand point, but tasty! Anyway, we tried some pizza and then moved onto an elephant ear. Here is daddy with a mouthful of elephant ear.
    So with seeing the animals and filling our bellies, the only thing left to do was to try and wind a prize. I have been to a lot of fairs in my day and know the odds of winning at most of those contests, so we chose to let Grace go to the duck pond to try her luck. Of course she just wanted to climb in and go for a swim, but soon caught on that the idea was to grab a duck and she did and won a little blow up toy.
    Yesterday was a great beach day, so we all piled into the car and headed to the beach. Grace sure loves the beach! I loved it there yesterday too. The winds were quite strong and that made it very comfortable to be there. Grace really wanted to go swimming, but none of us brought our suits, so we let her wade into the water, but that was it. Only the pups got to go for a full swim. Today was another great day to head to the beach, although the winds were not blowing as strong at all and were also off shore, so the lake was flat as glass and it was also pretty hot down there. But, Nora and Grace both wore their swimsuits and both went for a little swim. As did the pups. I wished I had worn mine as it was pretty hot down there, especially with almost no wind and a strong sun. I survived and we came home and Nora, Grace and the pups all took a nap while I did some work.
    One of the other chores I got done this week was to detail the Blazer. I was wanting to do it this spring, but with my health issues, was not able to get it done. Then summer came and it got put on the back burner, but I wanted to get it done because we are selling the blazer and with it's 4 wheel drive I figure it will be a good vehicle to sell with winter pending. So I got the blazer all spiffed up and I must say that it really does look good, both inside and out. It's not perfect, but for a 14 year old vehicle, I think it is in pretty good shape. If you are interested in it, you can read more here.
   While I had all the detailing equipment out and was still in the detailing mode, I decided to do up the truck. It is quite the job to detail a vehicle like I do. I first wash it and remove any road grime from all areas. Then I use a random orbit buffer to first use a fine cut cleaner, then move on to a polish/swirl remover and finish up with a wax. Both vehicles took me about 6-7 hours to complete, but it sure makes a difference. The only problem is that you don't want to use the vehicle after cleaning it up that much! Anyway, here is the truck all cleaned up.
    Well, I think that will do it for this one. Talk to you all next month and next season!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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August 22-
    As I type the temps are climbing into the 80's and the dewpoint is climbing through the upper 60's on it's way into the low 70's, but you will not find me complaining about it- at least not in this entry. Mother nature must have been reading my entry last week, because she delivered us a whole 7 days of very comfortable weather. We were able to have the air conditioners off for a full 7 days and there were even a few days where I had to keep the windows closed in the cabin to keep it from getting too cold inside.
    We even had a few mornings that were chilly enough that I should have worn a jacket while on my walk with the pups. Monday I darn near froze my nanners off walking with them. Temps were in the low 50's and the breeze that grew to a gale that day was already blowing pretty good when the pups and I took our walk. In a way though, it actually felt pretty good to be a little chilled while on the walk after being so warm and humid for so long.
    As I just mentioned, the winds blew pretty hard up here on Monday. Sustained to 30-35 mph and gusts to 50. The pups and I decided to head down to the big lake to see what it looked like on Monday and I have to admit that while I have not lived here my entire life, in the 11 years that I have called the Keweenaw home, I have never seen the lake that angry in August. I have seen the lake angrier in October and November when we are having one of our famous "November Gales", but that is as nasty as I have seen it while still swim able.
    When I look at that last picture, it does not look that bad to me and I bet many of you thought the same thing. The blue skies really help to make things look friendlier than on an October or November day when the skies are battleship gray. It is also hard to judge the size of the waves rolling in from the picture because there really is not anything to reference them to, but I would have had to guess that they were about 5-7 feet rolling into shore, with the occasional monster dwarfing all others. I also saw some buoys out in the lake reporting waves of 10-15 feet. Again, not the 30 footers of November 10th, 1975, but a good August surfing day. Here is another shot looking in the other direction.
    It was actually too windy to even walk the beach with the pups. I was in shorts and the sand was being carried through the air and hit my bare legs and really stung. I also noticed the pups did not seem to enjoy looking into the wind and getting sand blasted, so we ended up walking the road that runs just inland from the lake and is very well protected by the trees.
    On Tuesday it was back into the woods to pick some more blackberries for jam. Nora is the champion jam maker (at least in our house) and she informed me we needed 5 cups of crushed berries for one batch of jam. So the pups and I took to the woods and got busy picking. It was a great day to be in the woods, with temps in the upper 60's and dewpoints in the mid 40's. It ended up taking me about 30 minutes to pick just over 4 cups of berries, which is pretty fast, but not that difficult when you are going through patches that look like this. I'd say that for the area I was picking in, Tuesday (the day we were out there) was probably the peak for them. As in that last shot, about 70-75% of the berries were ripe for the picking, with the rest to be ready in a few days. We have not been out there since, but Nora is busy in the kitchen making the jam as I type. It sure will be a special treat to have on a cold winters day on toast made with home made bread, or perhaps a big old stack of pancakes. It's like canning summer.
    On Tuesday evening, Nora and I went on our first all alone dinner date since Grace arrived on the scene. I guess to be technical, we did eat dinner together without Grace and the dogs the night before I had my pacemaker put in, but that was hardly a date. Neither of us had been to the Harbor Haus in many years, so we decided to go there. For those of you not familiar with the Harbor Haus. It sits right on the shores of Copper Harbor and you can see the big lake beyond as well. The food is very good and pretty upscale for the UP. It was nice to have the time alone with Nora and not have either one of us have to worry about keeping Grace entertained, or fed or picking up all that she drops on the floors from her seat at the table. It's also felt pretty strange and did feel good to get back home and see the little cutie. 
    We did spend a little time walking through some of the shops in Copper Harbor and did end up taking the long way home though, up over Brockway Mountain and then along the lake to Eagle Harbor and then up to the highway and back home. While up on Brockway at the west end, we stopped to take in the view of Lake Bailey with Mt Baldy to it's left and Agate Harbor and the big lake to it's right. Here is a view of Lake Bailey from the ground floor. It was a fun time and we have some more dinner dates penciled in to the near future.
    I don't remember what we did on Wednesday, but on Thursday we took Grace in to see the Dr. for her one year lube, oil and filter, plus a few shots. I just cringe every time she has to get shots, but she takes them very well. Cries for about 60 seconds and then is all smiles. This time she even walked out of the Dr's office. No more shots for at least 6 months and hopefully she and I will be staying out of there for at least that long. The good news is that she is in perfect health and is growing at a good rate and is pretty smack dab in the middle of size for others her age.
    Friday was a pretty nasty day all day. Rain started up early in the morning and pretty much fell all day. We even had a few thunderstorms roll through, although nothing like some of the storms that rolled through the southern and eastern UP later in the day. All told we picked up around an inch or needed rain and things are nice and green and the dust is gone for the moment. During one of the lulls in the rain activity Friday, I did go out to our peach tree and picked two more pieces from it. We planted it 3 years ago and this is the first year it has produced fruit. After the first winter, I was even wondering if it was going to live. That first winter we had some really cold air (for us anyway) and it burned back most of the limbs on the tree and we probably only had a few dozen leaves on the entire tree at the beginning of the second summer. But it did come back and so far we have picked about 4 or 5 pieces of fruit, with another 3 or 4 to go. Kind of fun for this transplanted city boy to pick fruit right off my own tree and also very tasty. We actually have a few blackberries left over and I might make up a peach/blackberry sauce to put on things.
    Saturday was sort of the "hangover" day to all of Friday's rain. We pretty much had low clouds for most of the day. Even so, Nora and I decided to take the family up to Lac La Belle for lunch. On the way up, we passed by the cliff range and I snapped a shot of the low clouds rolling in off the top of it. We got there a little early, so Nora visited with some friends up there and I took the pups to Bete Gris beach to expend some energy. While at the beach, the skies cleared and the afternoon was pretty nice on the east side of the peninsula, but on the west end, the clouds hung tough for the rest of the day.
    Last night Nick (from our riding gang) got married, so I went to the festivities and saw many in our group. It is the first time since spring that I have seen or even talked to many of them and they seem as excited about the upcoming winter as I am. I think the warm summer had not been welcomed by most in the gang. A lot of talk about going out west again too.
    I have two shots of Grace to share with you all. She is spending more and more time playing by herself, or should I say keeping herself entertained by herself. She got some blocks for her birthday and they have become one of her favorite things to play with at the moment. Yesterday morning, she sat on the floor and played with them for quite a while. Today she stacked three on top of each other. She also loves to read and yesterday while Nora and I were finishing up breakfast, she came over to the table with one of her books. Since we were still eating, we asked if she wanted to read the book to Huck and she promptly sat down next to him and "read" the book to him. Those two are best buds, that's for sure.
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this one. Except for those of you that do not check the discussion board. I note on it that I will be at the Milwaukee snowmobile show in mid October, representing the Keweenaw. I will only be there Friday and Saturday because I have to work and travel home on Sunday, but hope to see and chat with lots of you.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
August 15-
    I realize that I am pretty much preaching to the choir here, but man, am I ever glad this week has passed. I have really thrown in the towel as far as heat and especially humidity is concerned for this season. The warm temps and high humidity arrived a week ago and hung on until early this morning. We had dewpoints in the mid 70's this week and air temps in the upper 80's to low 90's. I did not hear one single local talking about how much they loved that weather. I can actually end up with a headache and bit of nausea if I am out in that nasty stuff for too long and don't know if I could ever make my living out in it any more. I did when I was younger, but seriously doubt it now. Heck, I don't even like the AC that much any more. I used to love it, but now just deal with it as the lesser of two evils. I love the comfort that AC brings in the hot and humid weather, but do not like the constant noise it makes. The main home will definitely have central air and not rely on window units and fans like the cabin does.
    I guess the one bright spot to the hot and humid weather this past week was that it did allow me to take my annual dip in Lake Superior with relative comfort. Monday I took the pups to the beach and purposely wore my swimsuit, thinking that I might be able to brave the lake. As luck would have it, the water was pretty warm and it actually felt good to get in and cool off. So that was my dip for the year and my streak of getting into the big lake for a swim every year is still going and stands at 11. I wasn't too worried give the warmth we have had this year.
    On the way back to the truck, we passed a few blueberries that were still good for the picking. Their season is winding down, but if you know where to look, you can still pick a cup or two here and there. For some reason, we did not get out to pick them this year, other than a couple in passing.
    On a walk the other day, the pups and I came across some blackberries that were in the early stages of being ripe, so I picked a few for a snack as we walked and then Grace, Nora, the pups and I headed out to the same spot today to do some real picking. We gave Grace the bucket to hold and she was all proud to be helping. The pups helped too, but it was pretty much helping themselves to the best ones! It still cracks me up how they will either see Nora or I picking and come over and help themselves, or find a bush of their own and pick. Here is an action shot of Millie, Grace and I picking.
    I am not going to divulge my picking spot as this is the first time I have come across it and it looks to be somewhat of a secret. I will say that you cannot just drive up to it, get out and pick. You do need to walk a bit, but it is on a pretty well maintained logging road. With it being so nice and cool out today (mid 60's), it was very nice to be in the woods and it sure was a beautiful sight as well. We even came across a few cat tails. We kind of picked while we walked, so we did not get a ton this afternoon. All told I would say about 2 cups, but there will be gallons for the picking in the next few days and I plan to head back out there with the pups to pick enough so that we can make some jam to give us a taste of summer for the upcoming cold months.
    So last night I finish cutting the grass, came in and helped Nora with Grace a bit and then once Grace went to bed, I put my swimsuit on and grabbed a hockey pop and went and floated in the pool. It was still plenty warm and humid out and the pool was plenty warm and I was having a nice relaxing time- right up until it decided to pour on me! I ended up waiting out the rain as it only lasted about 10 minutes, but it did get quiet a bit cooler after the rain, I had finished my Blue Light and I did not feel much like hanging out in the pool anymore. So I got out and called it a day. Sure would have been nice to float for another 20 minutes or so.
    The rain we got yesterday evening did not really amount to much at all, but we did pick up nearly an inch on Friday and also had some light rains earlier in the week, so all told we picked up around an inch in the last week. That combined with my lawn watering has allowed the lawn to look pretty good. It has actually been in pretty good shape since early July and we are getting to the time of the year when it gets easier to keep it looking green.
    With things being so hot and humid, we did not get out into the woods a lot this week for walking, but the early mornings were comfortable enough to take the usual morning walk with the pups. It is a walk mainly on quiet country roads in the area and the best thing is we do not have to get into the truck and drive there. We do this pretty much every day, sometimes even in the rain and pretty much always in the snow, but I realized this week that you have never "been along" on that walk. So I took the camera with me this past Friday and snapped a few shots of "the loop" as we call it. 
    It starts out with us heading up the driveway to the road we live on. Then it is onto the road we live on and down it for about a half a mile. Then we turn onto "Old Joe's Road" and walk that for another 1/3rd to 1/2 of a mile. At that point we cut off into the bush and walk a two track through the woods to avoid a residential area. That serves one main purpose. I do not have to worry about pick up anything the pups leave behind, if you know what I mean! Then it is back onto the road we live on for the final half mile or so. All told it is just under 2 miles to complete the loop and we do it in a little over 20 minutes, so we are moving along at a pretty good clip. As mentioned, we do this pretty much every morning, unless it is just poring rain. We also will sometimes walk this with Grace and Nora in the evenings.
    On Friday as we were heading down Old Joes Road, the sky started to look a little nasty. All of it was headed in our direction, but I figured we would be able to finish the walk. Besides we were pretty much half way around, so it really did not matter much if we turned around or kept going. We made it home just fine, but about 2 minutes later the heavens opened up and it poured for about 20 minutes and then rain steadily for about another hour or so. We even had a lightning strike take down out phone service for a brief period. I guess it is really true what they say about it being better to be lucky that good!
    Well, I guess that just about covers it for this one. While we are now basking in the comfort of temps in the 60's and dewpoints in the low 50's, there does look to be some more warmth and humidity headed our way by next weekend and early next week. About 10 years ago after a particularly hot and humid spell, I wrote a little ditty about how I was ready for summer to end. This week, those words were really ringing true, so I figured I would share them all again with you, but edited a little to fit with my current situation. Anyway, here goes:
"
I am ready.  I am ready to put the shorts away.  I am ready to have to wear a coat or sweatshirt when I go outside.  I am ready to walk across crunching leaves of yellow, orange and brown.  I am ready to watch the big lake grow angry with the northwest gales.  I am ready to switch from cotton bedding to flannel.  I am ready to build a fire, grab the snacks, remote, sit on the floor and watch football on a cold autumn day, with my wife, little daughter and two pups on either side of me.  I am ready to see my breath while I take a walk in the woods.  I am ready to have the heat kick on to take the morning chill out of the house.  I know these events are still a few weeks away, but I am ready." Anybody else? Let me know.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
August 8-
    I guess I have a legitimate excuse for why it seems less than a week since I last wrote and that is because it has been. Plus the fact that this week was another busy one. Monday family was still in town so spent time with them. Tuesday and Wednesday I picked up Grace early from the sitter. Thursday I got ready for the weekend and then Friday Skylar arrived and we played Friday afternoon and Saturday. So I am even a little worn out at the moment and am writing a little early. I think I am mostly worn out because of staying up late the last two nights. I typically go to bed early even on the weekends because my body is so used to the hours that I sleep. So staying up to 10:30 or 11 like I did Friday and Saturday can really throw my system off track a bit. No worries though. Things will get back on track in a day or so.
    It was just a week ago that we were gearing up for the big party and although we celebrated it last Sunday, her actual birthday was Wednesday. So Nora and I had reserved some presents for her and I picked up a big old frosted muffin for her to have as her cake and we celebrated with her once more. No smashing this one, but she sure did enjoy eating it.
    As long as I am on the Grace subject, I may as well stay there. She is a full time walker now. I have not seen her do any real crawling for a day or two and for the past week she has been spending way more time walking than crawling. She still takes a spill, but can walk all around the house without taking a tumble. Nora said this morning that I can officially call her a toddler now. What ever she is, she is sure growing up. I can't wait for the walks in the woods and on the beach, but I suppose that is still a few years off.
    Yesterday evening after dinner we all went to the beach and Gracie was styling and profiling upon her arrival. Another thing she is doing is really getting interested in playing with stuff. Up until now, she seemed to stay interested in something for about a minute or two and then had to move on, but lately she can just sit and be content to play with what ever she has for many minutes. Yesterday she was happy to just sit in the sand and examine the sand and small rocks scattered in the sand. She even sat there and let the sand flow through her toes. Of course now that she is walking, she had to get get up and do some of that. The water looked tempting to her, but we did not want her cloths to get all wet, so she stripped down to her diaper and waded into the big lake.
    All in all, it was a very relaxing evening at the beach. The weather was nearly perfect with temps in the 70's, a light on shore breeze and pretty clear skies. Skylar and I took turns tossing the toys for the pups and Nora hung out with Grace. The only bad part was having to leave, but I guess all good things must come to an end.
    Changing subjects, the weather up here has been pretty much steady as she goes all summer. I guess overall you could say it has been a warm summer for us. Not hot, at least all the time. For the most part, temps have been in the upper 70's to mid 80's with moderate humidity. A few days a week we have temps in the upper 80's to low 90's and high humidity and then like this past Thursday and Friday, temps are in the 70's and the humidity is nice and low. I know that the local businesses that cater to visitors have been happy as we have been steady to busier than average this summer, but I also know that I will be happy to see the 60's and 70's and low humidity become the constant. It was so nice to be able to shut down the AC and open the windows Thursday and Friday. I hate the heat more than AC, but I sure am looking forward to putting them away for the summer. Hopefully in a few weeks that will be happening. I have to restrain myself though as I was reading last years entries the other day and although our summer was very cool, September was pretty warm and humid. So September does not automatically mean cooler and less humid air, but usually does.
    Skylar and I took advantage of the nice evening on Friday and headed down to the golf course. We played Calumet as I did not want to drive to Houghton and the course near by is still pretty rough. It had been almost 2 years since I even swung a club, so I was a little worried about how I would play. We did split a bucket of balls before heading out and things seemed to go pretty well, so I was not too worried. Overall, I think I did OK. Most of my game was pretty good, but my chipping and putting was a disaster. If it were not for some 4 puts and some ugly chips, I probably would have shot a few over par. Skylar seemed to play well, but said it was his worst game in years. All in all we had a good time and it was a perfect evening for golf.
    On Saturday we fired up the ATV's and Skylar and I headed out to do some riding of the Keweenaw's trails. We were warmer yesterday, but not humid, so it was a perfect day for a ride. Here is a shot of Skylar "sidehilling" through the backcountry. We made our way to Gay and then up towards Gratiot Lake and back down to the cabin with a quick pit stop in Phoenix. It was only my second ride of this season and my first since I have been feeling better and I had a blast. I had almost forgotten how much fun it was, but hope to get out a few more times before the snow flies and the sled becomes the transportation method of choice in the woods.
    After the ride we rested a bit and then took the pups for a walk in the woods. As mentioned, it was warm out yesterday, but with the low humidity, still comfortable for a walk- especially down a nice shady lane.
   So all in all, I'd say it was a great week here in the Keweenaw. I think my anxiousness for summer to end is pretty evident in my writings, but I am still making the most of the summer weather. We'll see what this week brings! Before signing off, I will leave you with a shot of the beach we were on last evening.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

August 2-
    Happy August everyone. One step closer to what many of you that frequent this site are waiting for. I know that the weather today is not much different from that of a week ago and it looks like this week's weather will also be quite warm and sticky, but we are getting there. In fact, some of the leaves are changing on just a few of the trees up here. Happens every August and I know we are still a little over 2 months from the main color show, but kind of another sign of hope that the fat lady signaling the end of summer is at least in the green room getting ready to take center stage.
    I guess I cannot complain too much, although we have had some warm days and humid conditions as well. Yesterday our dewpoint hit 70 and we were also in the 70's for dewpoints a few days last week. Thursday and Friday were beautiful though and it looks like the end of this week will also be cooler and less humid.
    We have been taking advantage of the warmer weather by soaking in the pool. Here is a shot of Gracie and I taking a dip a week ago. She sure does love the water and will swim with us for over an hour. I can't wait to teach her how to do cannon balls!
    Of course with the cooler temps later last week, we took advantage of the bug free conditions that have arrived and got out into the woods for a walk. I chose that trail for a couple of reasons, but one of them was because it has a pretty steep section in it and I wanted to see how my stamina is coming along. Last year when I hiked it with the pups, I had to stop twice to catch my breath before making it to the top and last week I did not have to stop once. I will admit that my heart was pumping pretty good and I was out of breath, but I figured that the hill is steep enough (about as steep as some moderate ski runs) and long enough that unless a person was in world-class athlete condition, they would have some level of elevated heart rate and breathing. Unfortunately the picture just does not do it justice. I also think I will be using that trail and hill as my "get in shape" path as it really does provide a good workout. Anyway I was very glad to know that I am in much better shape right now than I was last year at this time.
    Actually, last year at this time I was getting ready to fly down to TX to be with Nora. Grace was on her way into this world and it was a very exciting time for both of us. I can still remember being picked up at the airport by Nora's friend and being in sort of a state of fog as to what was all happening. Grace had already been born by the time I got to TX, but I was able to see her when she was just a few hours old.
    So here we are a year later. It sure has been a crazy one. I suppose there are aspects that I wish I could go back and change, but also at least one that I would not change for all the worlds riches. Grace is really something special. With every day that passes, she just gets cuter and steals an even bigger part of my heart. My return to good health has allowed me to step up to the plate and take on more responsibilities. An evening alone with her is something that I welcome with open arms, rather than fear that I will not have the energy to keep her entertained or care for her in the ways that she needs. We are bonding more and more every day and she has her beautiful smile out for me every time she sees me- even if I am just coming back from getting something from the shop. I suppose the day will come when the reaction is a little different, but for now she just makes my world.
    As mentioned in the previous journal, I did not write yesterday because we had a birthday party for Grace. Her actual birthday is Wednesday, but Nora had lots of her family in town for another occasion and my mom was able to make it up this weekend, so we took advantage of the situation and had her party yesterday. I spent much of last week cleaning up the shop to get it ready to host the party. The cabin is just too small to entertain more than around 10 and we sure can't count on the weather to hold it outside. So last Tuesday I started moving everything into the wood shop and then Wednesday I scrubbed and power washed the floors. Thursday we set up the tables and chairs and then Friday I cooked about 20 pounds of brisket and pork shoulder for the party. Saturday we were pretty busy with another party to attend and Sunday we put the finishing touches on the shop and by the time everyone arrived, it was all set.
    I have to admit that I actually had a fun time getting the shop ready. When I was setting up the tables with the table cloths and taking care of a few other things, I was thinking to myself that in 4 or 5 years, she will be telling us things like "I want Susie and Mary and Sally and... to come to the party." Fun to imagine the future.
    Even more fun to live in the present though and fun we had. Grace even took a big long nap before the party started, so she would be all full of energy. Nora did a great job of getting the party supplies and decorating the shop. We all even had little party hats to wear. Here is Grace in hers.
    The food was awesome and we all needed a bit of a break between dinner and cake, so we commenced upon opening the presents. Grace is still at the stage where opening presents is not the main event, but playing with the wrappers and looking at what is inside is fun as is playing with the toys. So Nora and I had to help her undo the wrapping, but she enjoyed getting a good look at each present.
    After presents it was cake time and what is a first birthday without a "smash cake"? I was actually wondering what her reaction would be when we put the cake in front of her to do with as she pleased. It did not take long for me to get my answer. Both hands went into it right away and that drew a huge reaction from the crowd. So she slapped it around a bit more, but also wasted no time in putting some in her mouth. Once she got a hold of how good it tasted, she was all business, tearing into it and chowing down. It did not take long at all for most of the cake to either be eaten by her, or wiped all over her head and arms. She just loved it and the whole event was the highlight for both her and all of her guests. 
    Then came the question on how to get her clean. I snuck into the wood shop and crabbed an old shirt I use to paint and stain in. Put it on and picked her up to take her in to give her a quick bath. It really did not take that long for me to get her all cleaned up and we returned to the party so she could socialize and play with some of her toys. Yes, a turbo is already ordered up for that personal watercraft.
    Poor Huck and Millie get just a little too wound up when visitors are here and Nora and I really did not have the time to keep them in line, so for most of the party, they had to stay in the cabin, but they are a huge part of Grace's life and I sure did not want them to miss the whole party, so I brought them out for a while and they even put on some party hats.
    Before everyone started to leave, we all posed in front of the shop for a group photo. After the photo, some left and some stuck around for a bit more and had a few more laughs. All in all I think it was a fun party and has created a bunch more memories.
    Not much else going on up here. I am a little pooped out from the busy weekend and all the prep work for the party, so I plan to take it kind of easy this week. I did "finish" the lift for the topper, but I used quotes because I used nylon rope in some of it and that topper is pretty heavy, so the rope stretches a lot and it takes too much cranking to get it to go up high enough. So I am going to swap out the rope for steel cable sometime soon. Probably not this week though.
    I guess that about covers it for this one. Talk to you all next week.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 

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