June 27-
    Wow, June is almost over! This month just flew by. I guess that's what happens when I can get off my duff and do things. Seems like it was just a few weeks ago the month was starting. At this rate, summer will be over and the wonderful autumn weather will be here and then winter. I guess I am not really in all that big of a hurry to have summer end. We have been having some pretty good weather. More rain in the past few weeks than I can ever remember falling up here in the summer, but the temps and humidity levels have been pretty comfortable, so I can certainly handle 2 more months of this before the autumn chill starts to settle in.
    Plus, I need the summer weather to allow me to chisel away at my "to-do" list. I did knock one of the jobs off of it this past week. Actually last Saturday afternoon I was able to get part of the job done and that was to remove all the soil from on top of the septic tank. So why prey tell did I do that? Well, I could really never get grass to grow there. The soil was just too shallow and I did not want to bury the hatches under a bunch of dirt, so I decided to go with the flow and just not ask grass to grow there anymore. Instead, I built a little deck over the top of it and Nora can put her plants there to catch all the sun that area receives all day. It can then be slid out of the way to gain access to the tank. I took the soil that was there and moved it to the spot along the shop that did not have any soil growing on it and planted seed. That last shot was taken Thursday evening and here is what it looks like today, just 3 days later! I just used regular Scotts brand seed for shaded areas and kept the area wet like they say and boom, instant lawn. The key is to keep the soil always damp, because some other areas that I kept wet most of the time, but not all the time are further behind in their new grass status. Anyway, sort of killed three birds with one stone with that one; found a remedy to the grass situation over the tank, covered the sand that was along side the shop and gave Nora a dedicated spot for her to grow her vegetables. Next up is to finish building the hutch for the bathroom. I doubt that I will get it all done in one week, as the finishing process will take several days alone. However, I hope to have the construction process done by the end of this week.
    The adventures this week have again been fairly limited, but not because of lack of effort. Basically the woods are off limits right now. The deer flies are so bad that we have been avoiding the place all together. We tried a walk in them on Monday and by the end were practically running out of the woods because of the swarms of deer flies going after mainly the dogs, although I had a few buzzing around my head too. This is by far the worst I have ever seen them since moving up. I'm not sure if it has been the weather, a cycle, or perhaps combination of both, but they are bad. 
    However, it is just the woods, the beach is not bad at all, and that is where we went yesterday. It was only in the low 60's and mostly overcast, but Gracie did not mind hanging out at the beach and wanted her toes to be free too. She really loves to go barefoot! Millie and Huck were trilled as can be to be at the beach and played hard the whole time we were there. As usual, Millie fetched a tennis ball flung down the beach, while Huck brought along a new toy to fetch from the water. The flying squirrel. He seemed to enjoy fetching that more than he did a stick.
    After about 45 minutes of that, the pups seemed to be pretty rung out and Grace seemed to be getting a little sleepy, so we packed it up and headed back home. On the way home, the pups showed they were not quiet done playing. Millie climbed under the blanket and wrestled with Huck, while Grace and Nora looked on. Once we got home, most of us crashed. I actually still had some energy and cut part of the grass, but Nora, Grace and the pups all took a nap. By dinner time, Huck was still so tired that we were able to mess with him a little. I call this one "just too tired to care".
    Gracie continues to flourish. I am so glad that I feel good again and be part of all the fun again. We had our daddy-daughter morning again today, with Cherrios and cartoons. She is not walking yet, but has taken a few steps on her own and when she is good and ready will probably just start running around the house. She can fly up the stairs and it's pretty cool. When she is on the upstairs and we do not have the gate up (but are watching her constantly), Huck will plant himself on the stairs to make sure an accident does not happen. We used to kind of joke about him being her body man, but it has come true. He loves her so much and is very protective of her. 
    Another one of her new things to do is a training regiment to climb "The Nose" on El Capitan. After she is done eating, we will take the tray off the seat and then unbuckle her. She then turns herself around on the seat and grabs onto the straps, while standing on the little foot rest. She will even climb up to the top of the chair and if we did not stop here, I am sure she would climb right over. Pretty much a daredevil this one and she has the bumps and bruises to prove it!
    She has learned to use a spoon to feed herself. We have to load the spoon up, but then she grabs it from our hands and shoves it in her mouth. We also learned yesterday that she loves pickles. Maybe we can get her an advertising contract with Clausen.
    So I guess that gets you caught up in the goings on up here. Not sure if I will be able to write next Sunday as it will be the 4th and I am not sure what all we will be doing, but if not Sunday, then Monday.
Good night from the Keweenaw..

-
JD-

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June 20-
    Happy Fathers Day, dads! I hope everyone's day was as great as mine, although it was pretty darn good and might be hard to live up to. In the past we have celebrated some pseudo Fathers Day's with the dogs, but now we have the real deal.
    My day started off by getting up early to get my Sunday work out of the way early. I was able to get it all done before breakfast and Nora and Grace slept in. I was done with my work by the time they woke up as well, so it worked out well getting up early. Sleeping in is nice, but it can also mess up my sleep schedule, so I rarely sleep past about 6 am on the weekends. Anyway, Grace and Nora came downstairs and as soon as Grace saw me, she immediately reached out for me to hold her. This has never happened before and she picked a perfect day to do it for the first time! Grace and I then hung out in the bedroom, watched some cartoons and snacked on some Cheerios while Nora made us a delicious breakfast of crepes, with strawberries, whipped cream and powdered sugar and a side of thick slices bacon. We also had a nice daddy- daughter chat while we hung out together this morning.
    After breakfast I got to open up my fathers day presents. They were really great. One was a custom painted saw blade done by Lori Sleeman from the Wildlife Refuge Cabins. She did a similar one for a prize at the ride in and I was not able to keep up with the bidding. So Nora took note of my disappointment when I did not win it and ended up ordering up another. This one was even customized for me with a couple of good friends in it. This saw blade will find a special spot in our cabin and when we finally get around to building the log home will follow us there. The other gift I got from Grace and Nora was my first very own John Deere. Ok, so maybe I am a little to big to hop on it and drive it, but I did hook it up this morning and watered the lawn with it and it works awesome. If anyone is looking for a similar sprinkler and is wondering if it works good, this one does. It is made from cast iron with rugged plastic tires and it did a great job going from one end of the yard to the other watering. It follows a hose, so you can make it go anywhere you want. It sure will make watering the lawn way easier!
    After opening the presents and hooking up the sprinkler, Grace went down for her morning nap and I took the pups for our morning walk. We are in a groove of taking a 2 mile morning walk every day and then taking another with Nora and Grace after dinner. It sure is nice to be getting back into shape and I can really notice the difference in my energy and stamina when compared to just a few weeks ago. I am already feeling better than I was last year at this time and pretty close to feeling as good as I have in many years and I have been told I will not feel the full effects of the valve surgery until about a year is up. So there are still 3 months of getting better to go until I hit that year anniversary.
    After the walk and a few chores, we all had lunch and then headed to the beach. It has actually been more than a month since we have been to the beach. I know that I have not been there since having the pacemaker put in and that happened 4 weeks ago tomorrow. For one, I felt it best to take it easy the first week or two after the surgery and then was afraid we would encounter those nasty biting flies. The are just like a small house fly, but have as nasty bite, especially around your ankles. They also have a pretty distinct time that they are out (early June) and are gone by the end of the month. No flies today, just sun and fun at the beach.
    Gracie and Nora hung out on a blanket and I flung a tennis ball for Millie and a stick for Huck. We wore the dogs out pretty good and headed home. Not long after getting home, Grace was getting tired and went down for her afternoon nap. I am getting ready to fire up the wood working shop and since it sits idle all winter, it sort of becomes a storage barn for all the stuff we do not know what to do with in the cold months. So Nora helped me get some things up into the storage in the rafters and then I continued on with some straightening up of the shop. I know that may not sound like much fun, but I actually love it. I like to keep a clean shop and actually enjoy putting things in their correct places and cleaning up and making things nice and tidy. Plus, working in dirty and disorganized shop is dangerous. So the wood shop is just about all set for action and the machine shop is in great shape. Kind of fun to go into the two of them and just look around.
    After that, we had a wonderful dinner of grilled steak and potatoes and fresh watermelon for desert and it was all I could do to muster the energy to come up and write rather than go out into the screen tent and lay down on the swing in there! But duty calls and here I am and almost finished at this point anyway. So maybe that swing will still get a little ride.
    Yesterday Nora went fishing with one of her brothers and her nephew and did take the camera. Only one fish was caught, so no pics of monster pike being landed. However, Nora did spot what I think was a sandhill crane and it's little one having a bite to eat along the shoreline. While she was out fishing, I manned the fort. I was alone with Grace and the pups for about 6 hours which is the longest I have gone since my surgery in October. It really felt good to be able to let Nora go out and have some fun while I stayed home. I am sure that there will be lots more of those events in the future.
    I think I did really well. I gave her breakfast, changed a really nasty diaper, got her to take a morning nap and then we played for a while and had lunch. While just finishing up lunch, Nora arrive back from her fishing trip and got a kick out of how messy Grace was. I guess I was suppose to keep her from running her hand across her mouth and then dragging the food that was stuck to her mouth area across the rest of her face and into her hair. Live and learn I guess!
    Not much else going on up here. I am in full chore mode now. Some small and some rather large and in depth. I have a list of most of them and it is about a dozen items long. The first major one is almost done and I will share a pick when it is done in next week's entry. One by one I should be able to get them all done before the snow starts to pile up, but I had better stick with it as tomorrow is the solstice and the nights will be growing longer! Ahhh, summer's first milepost is almost here and gone!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

June 14-
    My apologies for the no-snow yesterday, but time sort of slipped by me and before I knew it, I was essentially out of time for my day and rather than trying to force the issue, I just decided to put things off for a day. Besides, should someone really have to sit down and write a journal on their birthday!
    Yep, I celebrated the 15th anniversary of my 29th birthday yesterday and with Nora, Grace and the pups celebrating with me, it was the best one yet. We did not do any too crazy. I got my Sunday work out of the way in the morning. All of us took a little nap after lunch and then we all took a walk in the afternoon. Nora then took me out for dinner and then came home and opened the rest of my presents and then realized it was too late to write!
    The week was a good one, but rather uneventful, at least for journal material. I slept really poorly on Sunday, so Monday I was a total wreck. I did try and sneak in a nap during the day, but that did not help much. Slept good Monday night and then had to go to Marquette to have the pacemaker checked out. Wednesday was too wet to go on an adventure with the pups in the afternoon. I was kind of worn out on Thursday and then Friday it rained for most of the day and Nora and I also had a party to go to. So I guess I was just busy with lots of other stuff and could not get out on any adventures with the pups.
    I have been feeling really good and have been getting good exercise with them, but it is just our typical 2 mile walk around the neighborhood once or twice a day that we have been doing and not much opportunity for interesting pictures on that one.
    If you have not noticed yet, I am trying to build excuses as to why this entry is not going to have much to it! I do have some pictures of Gracie to share. She continues to give us something new to talk about just about every day or so. Yesterday it was climbing up the stairs all by herself. I did keep behind her, with my hand on her behind so she would not fall backwards, but it was not really needed and she flew up the stairs, almost as fast as she can crawl. Kind of scary to know that, but also good info to know. We do have gates for both the top and bottom of the stairs and have them up when she is roaming the floors. 
    Not much new in the speech department. Still a lot of babbling with the occasional recognizable word thrown in. She is very proficient at pulling herself up into a standing position and has pretty good balance. She can stand easily with one hand lightly hanging onto something and will take a few steps all on her own before falling down. Nora and I figure at the pace she is going, she could very well be walking by the 4th of July.
    She sure likes to go though. She spends very little time just sitting around doing nothing. About the only time she really likes to just sit and take it easy is just before going to bed and sometimes just after she wakes up. This weekend I had the pleasure of sitting on the couch with her, watching cartoons and eating Cherrios. That was a more candid shot, but of course she is always ready to pose for the camera too, even in the morning before she has had a chance to do her hair and makeup. What a girl.
    For my birthday, I got some work boots that you can wear over your street shoes and they were big enough that she could fit right inside one. Another gift I got were some mud flaps for the truck. They are really nice ones, custom fit for that make and model of truck. Here is a shot of me test fitting them yesterday. Exciting stuff hey?
    Other than that, there is not much to talk about. We did get some good rains in the past week or so. Everything is as green as I have seen it up here in June in at least a few years (except for my lawn). It seems like the past few summers have been really dry. We were really dry up until around 2 weeks ago, but now look to be in a pretty wet pattern. I am just fine with that. The more it rains, the less I have to spend on watering the lawn. It is greening up and is now longer a complete embarrassment, but is not quite to the stage where I want to proudly show it off. Perhaps in another week or so I can show it off.
    The bugs are about where they were a week ago. Deer flies are the main issue right now. Mosquitos too, but they mainly stick to shaded areas or come out just before sunset and just after sunrise. I'm still hopeful that the deer flies will run their regular 4-6 week course and not be too much of an issue by later in July and all of August.
    I also think the early and mild spring combined with all of the rain we have been getting will produce a bumper berry crop. I cannot remember the last time I have seen so many blooms and fruit buds on the bushes. The apple trees in the neighborhood also look to be fairly well loaded and we even have some peaches on our peach tree! First time since we got the tree 3 years ago. I know I am looking forward to the berry season. I just love to walk the woods and be able to have a snack at the same time.
    Well, I guess that about does it for this one. We'll see what this week brings. Looks like it is suppose to rain tomorrow and then again Friday, but perhaps the pups and I can hit the beach or woods and bring the camera along. Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
June 13-
    Well, the events of the day have caught up with me and I am now just sitting down to write when I should typically be getting ready for bed, so I am going to delay writing until tomorrow, but please know that all is very good. Just a busy evening and it got to late to write.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
June 6-
     I'm back! and in more ways than one. My apologies to anyone that I concerned by not writing last weekend, but the Dee clan snuck out of town to go to a family function Memorial Day weekend, so I could not write on Sunday and I have learned to try not to write on the same day that we travel back home. Just too much no matter how good I am feeling. So that was the reason for my absence last weekend. The trip down and back went well. Grace slept almost the whole way down as we traveled in the evening and did not fuss on the way back until we were around 3 miles from home. Of course she did have her buddy to keep her company on both trips. I just love how her little hand is reach out to pet him and how he is facing the same way she is. Those two are best buds.
    It looks like my health saga is FINALLY over! The pacemaker insertion went well and while I am still a little sore from it and still under some restrictions, there is a night and day difference in the way I feel. No more feeling like I have the flu, no more water gain and lots of energy. Dr's said my heart was only pumping around 35% of the blood that it could and with a little luck I could reach 70-75% and I believe that a perfectly healthy person does not pump more than around 80%. So it likely that I will feel even better as time goes by.
    My only restrictions with the pacemaker will be to not use a chain saw or other gas powered, hand held lawn equipment. I am not suppose to be close to a spark plug that is creating spark. The electromagnetic field created by the spark plug could interfere with the pacemaker. When the Dr first told me to stay away from combustion engines, I took a hard swallow and asked if that meant snowmobiles too and he said: "No, it would be fine for me to ride a snowmobile". That was a huge relief. Not that my life is centered around riding a snowmobile, but it is a big part of my wintertime fun. Basically, I just have to say around arms length from the spark plug is all.
    I did wise up this time and took it pretty easy the first week after the surgery. Things like not doing the forecast for this site and not walking the dogs. I think that paid off as I really felt good by Memorial Day weekend and have felt really good since. Not that it was the reason why I felt like crap for 8 months following the open heart surgery, but I do think I may have tried to jump back into the swing of things a little too soon. Laying around doing nothing is not my favorite thing to do- at least for too long, but I guess sometimes that I what I need to do. So I guess the bottom line is that I am feeling pretty darn good. Not 100% yet, but better than I have felt since last August or September.
   That is good in more ways than one as well, as I have a list of things to do that is a mile long. I am not going to try and get them all done in the next 2 weeks or anything like that. but I do have enough projects on the list to keep me plenty busy for the rest of the summer. Things like finishing the cupboard I was building for the bathroom, repairing the lean-to on the shop and first off- getting my poor lawn back into shape. Most guys when sharing pictures of their lawn would do it when it is a deep green and perfectly manicured. Well, not this guy. Here is the sad state of affairs my lawn was in this past Wednesday. Most of it dead or dormant and crunching under foot and that which was still green- about 2 feet tall. That is what happens when you get about 1 inch of rain in 3 months and do not cut the lawn since last autumn. 
    In my defense, just about the time it needed attention paid to it, I started to feel pretty bad physically. So even the task of moving around a sprinkler did not seem like something I wanted to do, let alone cut it and Nora was way too busy with Grace to worry about the lawn, so we let things go a bit. The good news is that I have cut all of it and have begun watering it. Mother nature helped out a bit Friday and yesterday with around 1/2" of rain. Looks like some more natural watering will compliment my watering this week and once some signs of green appear, I will hit it with some fertilizer and more water and hopefully by the 4th of July it will look like the outfield of Wrigley Field. But please pray for rain!
    I've gotten back into the swing of walking with the dogs too. Even though the Dr said I could walk them, I took last week off to let my incision heal. I felt kind of bad about it as they have a routine and know right when it is time to walk, but to the bed we went instead to give my shoulder a rest. I think they understood that I was not feeling good, but were very happy to get back to the routine this week, as was I.
    We also have been getting out for afternoon adventures this past week. The weather was very nice all week (except for Friday's rain), with temps in the upper 60's to low 70's and lots of sun. Pretty much perfect weather to be taking a walk in the woods and nothing much better than walking down a shady lane in the Keweenaw in Keweenaw summer weather. The only down side was the insects. This year is all messed up though. Things are happening way sooner than they should. I am hoping that means the relatively bug free period that starts around the beginning of August will also be early and last the rest of the summer. Anyway, the black flies are done. I have not been bothered by one of them in a week or so. They were not too bad when they were out in full force either. The main bother now is the deer and horse flies. They typically are not a problem until July and fade off in early August, so as I just mentioned, I am hoping that they will taper off by early to mid July and then all we will be left with is the mosquitos. They are slow and stupid and usually only a problem near sunrise and sunset. We shall see. Until then, I will be carrying a homemade fly swatter while walking in the woods.
    Even with the lack of rains we have had, the woods are green and seem to be getting greener. The berry bushes also seem to be thriving this early summer. We have quite a crop of thimbleberries growing along side of our driveway. I am not too fond of them, but am of the blackberries and the red raspberries and we also have quite a bit of the red raspberries growing along side the driveway.
    Things in the Grace department are going well. She is as happy as ever and really getting around. Plus she now has 8 teeth, of which she is showing off 7 of them in this shot. I know I show a lot of pictures with her smiling, but that is the way she is for the camera. She seems to know exactly what it is for and really loves to ham it up. Of course not even a professional supermodel wants to be in front of the camera forever and she does start to grow a little tired after time and eventually just reaches a point where she has had it with the paparazzi.
    Nora and my period of not having to be right there in case she falls did not last long. About 10 days after mastering crawling around, she had decided that walking upright seems like a better way to go, so she can pull herself up with ease now and does take a few steps before she loses her vertical hold and falls to the floor. So Nora and I back to keeping a pretty close eye on her. It is cute to watch her develop and stand up all on her own.
    It looks like I have come to the end of my writings for this entry. Grace's favorite thing to do before heading off to bed is to sit on Mom's lap and read. She loves to turn the page when Nora says so and is her way of winding down after a busy day. So I don't know if I have ever made my sign off a link before, but here is Grace saying:
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-
JD-

 

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