May 22-
    Yep, the date above is correct. This is actually a rare Saturday journal. I realize most of you are probably reading this Sunday night or even Monday morning like you usually do, but I will not be able to write on Sunday, so I figured I better get something out so that you all know I am still alive!
    Actually this last week has been a little better for me than the previous two were, but none the less, the Dr's have decided to pull the trigger and slap a pacemaker in me on Monday. Thus the reason for this rare Saturday entry.
    I am actually pretty pumped to get the thing. Not that I am looking forward to being cut open and having something stuck in my chest and wired to my heart, but I know it will make me feel tons better (at least that is the plan) and I am sure ready for that! I have been feeling like an 80 year old heavy smoker, who is way overweight ever since having the valves replaced in October and I am ready to rev my engines and get doing things! My list of projects for this summer is pretty full and there is no way I would be able to get them done feeling the way I do and quite honestly I was beginning to worry about next seasons riding.
    I have talked to a few and heard stories from many who have had pacemakers put in and they all describe it as having a light switch flipped on how they felt. Hopefully the same will happen to me and life will be able to get back to normal.
    As mentioned, this week I did feel a little better and the weather has been absolutely beautiful. Temps in the 70's and sunshine just about every day. I have been able to take my morning walks this past week and even got to do it in shorts and a t-shirt many mornings. Those walks were really nice, I was able to just tool along with the pups, smell the woods, hear the birds chirping and just enjoy the beautiful land I live in. I just felt so blessed to be able to live where I do and be able to enjoy it like I was. It really helped to lift my spirits.
    In addition to that I have a beautiful wife and beautiful daughter that have been there to lift my spirits the past 8 months as well. Not sure how or even IF I could have made it through this grind without them. And let's not forget about those crazy pups. They provide daily laughs (spiced with some occasional frustration) and that unconditional love that only an animal with such a beautiful soul can. This week sure has had it's laughs and frustrations with them!
    As mentioned the weather has been beautiful all week. Actually today has been overcast and almost looked like it wanted to rain, but it has not rained and is not suppose to. In fact, Nora, Grace, the pups and I took a morning walk and plan to head out this afternoon when I finish writing this. I did not feel good enough to get out with the pups every day this week and there were some days when I did not bring the camera, but Tuesday we all headed to the Bootjack boat launch for a swim. 
    The beaches of the big lake can really change a lot from year to year or even season to season, so all this spring we I did not notice how low the lake was because I thought the different look to the beaches was just do to the shifting shoreline. Well we got to the boat launch and I could see that the lake looked to be down at least 8 inches and maybe as much as a foot. Not as much as 2 years ago when it was 2 feet down, but still quite low. A testament to how dry it has been since last autumn.
    No pictures of things there, but we did get to the big lake on Wednesday and the pups frolicked on the beach. Millie chasing her kong toy and Huck a stick. The big news of the day was that Huck is now just as fast a runner as Millie. Not sure if Millie lost a step or Huck gained some speed, but to me it looked like Huck has thinned down a bit and gained some speed. Not that he was every fat, but more like a well built linebacker. In any case, they can both haul the mail and are probably 60% faster than Burt and Baileys ever were and faster than most labs I have ever seen.
    Yesterday we took to the woods near by and walked a section of the snowmobile trail. The trees are pretty much completely filled out and the forest floor is also full of green. It is nice to see because it really lowers the ability of a fire to spread. We are in a level of high risk for fires according to the DNR and I would agree because it has been so dry, but at least the higher amount of green in the woods will slow the spread of any fire when compared to a few weeks ago when all we had was dried up leaves from last autumn.
    The woods also smelled really good as we walked through them. Many of the trees and flowers are in bloom- including the apple trees. I have a pretty good sense of smell and sometimes that can be good and sometimes that can be a bad thing. Yesterday afternoon it was a very good thing.
    The pups were happy to be walking the woods off leash. Most of our walks have been on the country roads around here and while they are not that busy, I have to keep them on a leash. So gaining the freedom to be able to run like the wind and explore anything they want is really a fun thing for them. At one point, they both took off in full sprint. I did not see any animal, but just as I was about to give a hollar to them to get them to stop (something they are very good at), I got my answer. I saw two big splashes of mud as they hit what was left of a water hole from this spring. I really thought that it would be dry by now, but that hole sure does like to stay wet a long time. Unfortunately, it was more of a mud hole than water hole and while I could not see how muddy Huck was. The mud stuck out on Millie quite well! 
    I guess you might say that that incident provided both some laughs and some frustration. In opposite order, but I think it was best to finish up with the laughs than the frustration. We got home and they got a little spritzing with the garden hose and all was well. Maybe today we can walk the same way and I will just let them have all the fun they want in the hole. After all, what good is a mud hole if you cannot play in it?!
    No pics of Grace this week. Sorry. Not sure why, but she is getting around better than ever. Still no "dad" or "daddy" from her, at least that I have heard, but she knows who I am and gives me that big old grin of hers every time I say her name, so I have nothing to complain about. She is starting to try to pull herself up all on her own and has made it to the standing position a few times. That has brought on a new thing to watch out for (her falling down from the standing position), but Nora and I both knew what we were getting ourselves into when we brought her home and are just grateful to have the opportunity to have someone to watch over.
    Well, I guess that will about cover it for this episode. A quick heads up that I will not be writing Memorial Day weekend either, so "see" you in two weeks!
Good night from the Keweenaw..

-
JD-

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May 16-
    Well, this is going to be another short one. Been kind of a rough week for me health wise. I am sure that you all are about as tired about hearing about my health as I am feeling crappy, so I won't get into the full blow details about things, but it really is the main reason why I do not have much to write.
    The quick run down is that not long after finishing my writing last Sunday, I started to feel pretty bad and just decided to go to the ER and get checked out. They diagnosed me with low sodium levels (so my guess last Sunday was right) and dehydration. Gave me two liters of IV with saline, I felt better, so went home. Did not feel real great on Monday and ended up back in the ER that afternoon. Sodium was better and was not dehydrated. ER Dr. called my cardiologist and he told them to have me stop taking one of my meds. I still felt like crap Tuesday and Wednesday (which I was told I would) and by Thursday felt better, but still not enough to get out and do much. Friday, yesterday and today were pretty much the same. Too tired and flu like to feel like doing much. I am going to the Dr tomorrow. Feel like I am on the path to get that pacemaker and if it would be the solution, would really like to get it before my entire summer is spent chasing my tail with meds. We will see.
    It's been a pretty cold week up here- that is until yesterday and today. Today I actually have shorts on and we are making our way towards 70 degrees. We got some rain Thursday and Friday. Not a ton, but about 1/2 inch which was enough to help the greening process and also when combined with the warmer temps- call the black flies into action. As hard as I try, there really is nothing good to say about them. They are just plain nasty and are very hard to combat. Plus, unlike mosquitos, they love to swarm in the bright midday sun, so you really have no safe time from them. I have my mosquito magnet going and hopefully that will help to knock down the population early on and they will not be as problematic in a week or so. They to tend to back off in numbers by mid to late June, but I have seen a few linger into July and August in past years. 
    The beach is the only real escape from them. Not sure why, but they just are not much of a problem on the shores of the big lake. Especially if the waters edge is separated from the woods by 75 to 100 feet or more. So if I get feeling better this week, that is where the pups and I will be hanging out in the afternoons as they bother the dogs as much as they do me.
    I have just a few pictures to share with you all and all of them were taken in the last hour. As I started thinking about writing today's entry, I realized I did not have one single picture to share with you, so Nora and I took some of Grace and the pups playing. She continues to work on her crawling. She is pretty good at it now and can really fly across the bed. On the floor, she still seems more content to pull herself along on her rear end, but does get on all fours and scoots. She is pretty much done with taking the headers and can catch herself pretty good when she is falling backwards, so we do not have to be within inches of her anymore when we put her on the floor. We still keep a close eye on her, but the whole process is much more relaxing than it was just a week ago. 
    Now that she is spending more time on the floor, she is spending more time with the pups and could not be happier. Huckie is still more interested in her than Millie, although Millie has started to take a bigger interest in her in the past few days. That Huck though, he just loves her so much and has to be around her. The other morning I was up in my office doing work and Grace was on the floor near me. I was keeping an eye on her and she started to crawl towards the stairs. I don't know if it was coincidence or not, but Huck got up and laid down in between her and the stairs and she would have had to climb over her to fall down them. I could have gotten to her in time and am not going to assume Huck will do this every time she is heading towards peril, but it was really cool to see. I feel very sorry for anything that tries to bring any harm to her! Huck does not have a mean bone in his body, but I have seen him in action when coming to Millie's rescue when another dog was starting to rough her up a bit and he goes from all fun to all business in a heartbeat.
    I have a feeling that there is going to be an extra special bond between the two of them. It is already starting and he seems to be as thrilled to goof around with her as she is with him.
    Having the puppies allowed the house to also be pretty baby-proof by the time we brought Grace home. We did have to do a few things like put those little inserts into the electrical outlets and we will have to secure the doors to the space under the kitchen sink, but otherwise there is not a lot of trouble laying in wait for Grace as she starts to explore the house. The one exception to that is the dog bowls. She has found them and while she has not learned there is their food in them, that is bound to come soon. I don't have much of a solution. Huck and Mille always have food in their bowls and that is the way it has always been, so I am not going to try and establish feeding times like I had with Burt and Baileys. I think we will just be vigilant and keep telling her "no" until she realizes it is off limits. She does understand what "no" means, but is a stubborn little bugger!
    Well, I guess that will about cover it for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-
JD-
May 9-
    Happy Mother's Day Moms! I'm going to probably make this a pretty quick one as Nora and Gracie are out doing some Mother's Day things and I would like to be done or almost done by the time they get back. Plus, it has been one of those weeks where I don't have a lot to talk about. 
    I was busy with some business and personal things this week, plus I have been feeling a little off again the past week, so the adventures have been somewhat limited. I did get out for an afternoon walk with the pups on Thursday. It was a nice day for a walk, with temps in the low 50's and plenty of sun. The pups were happy to be able to get out into the woods and do some sniffing. There were even a few squirrels to chase. Huck was around the back side of the tree on that one- trying to see if there were some branches to help him climb up the tree.
    The weather changed pretty dramatically the next day. We stayed dry for most of the day, but it was much chiller and there was the threat of rain or even some snow. No precip had fallen even by the time I went to bed Friday night, but when we woke up Saturday morning, the ground was white with a fresh coating of snow. Not as much as other areas got, especially in the southern UP and northern WI, but that's fine with me. A little snow in May is a nice novelty, but more than an inch or two is just a plain old mess. Just like October snows, guaranteed to melt and just make things sloppy for a few days. I will say that the woods sure were pretty though.
    Yesterday Nora and Gracie went off to a birthday party way out east of Marquette. When I was spending all those days at Marquette General, there was a friend of hers that let her and Grace stay there and even baby sat for Grace when Nora came to visit me in the hospital. Her son had his 5th birthday party, so they went there to celebrate with them. The pups and I stayed home and laid low. As mentioned, I have been feeling a little off and yesterday I was feeling more than a little off. In fact, I came very close to getting myself to the ER so that they could help me feel better. I am pretty sure my sodium levels were too low. In my last blood test they were a bit lower than they should be and I know that the diuretics I am on has been causing the levels to drop. All of the symptoms matched perfectly with low sodium levels and I did start to feel a little better after ingesting some ramen noodles, beef jerky and pickles. Not all with each other, but over the course of the afternoon. Been going heavy on the sodium again today and do fell much better, even good enough to take a walk in the woods with the pups. However, I still feel a little washed out from yesterday. Tomorrow I will be talking with my doctor about this latest hiccup. 
    We had a few milestones in the Grace department. In the last entry I think I talked about how she was very close to crawling. Well, she crossed that line this week and is now crawling around. A bit anyway. She does not go too far, but is pretty stable and I would imagine in the next week or so she will be getting around the house. The other milestone is she said her first word. Well at least in context. She has been saying things like momma and dadda, but that has always been accompanied by words like baba, nana and other combos of that nature. Well, the other day we were finishing up dinner and Nora ran into the kitchen to do something and Grace started to fuss a bit. All of the sudden, she just belted out "mamma, mamma, mamma" and when Nora returned, she stopped and smiled. One of those heart melting moments. I was so thrilled that she said momma first, but am a little envious. I have been saying the word dadda to her lots this week, but so far all I get is "Bob". So I guess I am Bob for the time being. Fine with me. I have been called worse!
    Well ,I guess that covers it. Good timing as Nora just called and is on her way home. Till next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

May 2-
    Welcome to May everyone. Time really seems to be scooting by. Seems like just a week or two ago we were in Florida and in reality it has been 5 weeks. Life has been pretty good and we seem to be in a fairly consistent routine, so I guess that can make days go by fast. What ever the reason is, I don't mind. Not that I like to have my day's and life go fast, but as long as I am enjoying things, the speed at which it all happens does not concern me much.
    We finally got some rain this week! It took almost four weeks for it to happen, but it came Thursday night and then again Friday night. All told we received almost an inch and a half of rain with the two episodes. It has helped to green things up and the woods are no longer a tinderbox. Although we'll need rains again in a few days to keep the woods from getting dangerously dry again.
    Another consequence of the rains and the unusual spring we have had is that the dreaded black fly has decided to show itself already. Typically this does not happen until the end of May at the earliest, but this year the book is being thrown out the window. Perhaps this will mean they will disappear sooner as well. Sure hope so as an extra 2-3 weeks of those buggers would not be a lot of fun.
    It was another busy week for me. Went to Marquette to see the skin Dr. I have to visit him every 12 months for a regular check up since having that melanoma removed back in 2003. No more melanomas, but have had a few of the far less threatening carcinomas removed. Typically I do not mind going to places like the Dr or the dentist, but for some reason I just hate going to see the skin Dr. I guess because it invloves a lot of using local anesthetic and I have a bit of a phobia every since I was having some surgery done to the bottom of my foot and the local wore out and the Dr said he was almost done and kept going. I grunted it out for another 8 minutes while he dug in there, but ever since have not been real comfortable with local.
    On an entirely different and brighter note, I did get out to the beach with the pups this week. It was suppose to be a bit warmer than it got that day, but still was not too cold to be there. We did not even have the place to ourselves the whole time. Two other dogs visited the same beach for a while, but Huck and Millie did not overwhelm them, but sure did fun over to say hi! The first thing we saw when we arrived at the beach was a lakes freighter making it' s way up to the north shore or Thunder Bay. I am actually just assuming it was not headed for Duluth because they usually stick closer to shore for a while longer after hooking around the Keweenaw than the ships heading further north. In any case, the other thing that I noticed was how much wider the beach was. It had to have been around 30-40 feet wider than I have seen it in many years, perhaps as long as I have been going there. Makes me wonder where it came from, some other stretch of sand on the north shore, or just from the bottom of the big lake?
    We had a fun time at the beach at Eagle River, the pups got good and worn out and then we headed back home. It's nice to have a beach to go to that is only around 10 minutes away. Once the summer gets going we will have to go somewhere else as it is a pretty popular one with both tourists and locals. Great beach for taking a long walk on. Just head east and you can walk for a few miles on beautiful sand.
    Yesterday was the annual spring ATV ride and we could not have lucked out more with the weather had we planned it ourselves. First the rains Thursday night and Friday night were enough to eliminate the dust and even make some puddles and then Saturday itself was beautiful. Temps in the 60's and lots of sunshine. I actually wore shorts for most of the ride, but then had to slip into something a little warmer late in the day.
    The plans this year were a little different. Usually we all meet up at Dave's and head out, but since it had been so dry, we decided to have our starting point a little further north and chose Helltown as the starting point. We all unloaded around 10:30 and then headed out into the woods to have our fun. All was going well until around 5 minutes into the ride when the wheels started falling off. Literally! That was the left rear tire off my ride. Thankfully I was not going too fast. In fact where you see the tire is where it ended up after coming off. Not sure how all the lugs came off, but I was not the one to put the tires on this year either. I got a little help from a friend because I was still not feeling real well from the surgery.
    We found two of the lugs near by, but did not find anymore. Someone shot back to their truck and picked up a socket and ratchet and we re-arranged the the lug pattern so that the front tires had 3 and the rear had 4. I kept the socket and ratchet close by and made sure the lugs were snug the rest of the ride.
   The area that we chose to ride in naturally does not have as many wet spots in it and the dry weather only made them harder to come by, but we have some bloodhounds in our group and always seem to find somewhere to get their mud fix in. We had some stucks and some laughs and then stopped to take a break. One in the group mentioned were close to an old "cruiser" cabin from the pre-industrial logging era. If you do not know what a "crusier" was back then, don't feel bad. I did not either. It was explained to me that they were the ones that sort of cruised the woods looking for the lumber to cut. They typically lived in separate quarters from the other persons at the camp. The camp as actually last used as a hunting camp about 30 years ago, so it did have some "improvements" to it from that period, but you were still able to get a feel for what those loggers live in over 100 years ago. 
    After hiking down to and back from the old cruiser cabin, we too a short break and then got back on our rides. When my wheel fell off, everyone commented on how they had never seen that happen before, so it was even more unusual when the wheel came off of Nick's side by side! Yep, two in one ride! You can bet there were others checking their lugs after that one. We could not find any of the lugs from that one, so Nick ended up with 3 on each wheel, which did not seem to slow him down much!
    Unfortunately that was not the last issue Nick had to deal with. On the final leg of the trip his belt blew, but we were very close to our starting point and he just got a tow back in. The rest of the ride was incident free, but not free of fun, or scenic trails. Really some beautiful country up there. Big old hills, some lakes, rivers and swamps.
    The ride was a little more mellow than they have been in the past and the look of my ride after sure illustrated that. There have been rides in which the thing was coated in an inch or more of mud everywhere. Not this year. Some dirt, but nothing that was too bad and in about an hour it was all clean again. The big tires will come off and the stock will go back on for the summer and I will have to order up some more lugs for when they go back on next autumn.
    Not much else going on up here. Bugs are popping out as are the buds on the trees. Soon all the snowbirds will be back and camps opened up and we will be in the full blown summer tourist season. Guess I will have to get used to having 5 cars ahead of me at the stop light rather than 2.!
    I just have one shot of Gracie to share with you. She is trying like the dickens to learn to crawl. In fact she had taken headers on all of our watches. Only once for me, but I do not watch her nearly as much as Nora does. She is almost there and today she took two "steps" on her hands and knees. The exercise for Nora and I sure will start when she can crawl, but we will also be glad to not have to hover over her and be ready to catch her in a split second when she is trying to get going. Perhaps when I write next week I can talk all about how she rips around the house chasing the pups.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 

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