June 26-
    Greetings. I almost can't believe that June is almost over. I suppose a lot of it has to do with the fact that we have really struggled to have what most (including Keweenawites) would consider summer weather. Just about this whole week was spent in the 50's and it rained from late Monday all the way through Thursday night. When I mean it rained in that time frame, I mean it rained pretty much straight through. There were some 15-20 minute breaks that occurred from time to time, but otherwise it was just raining. All told we picked up about 2 1/2" of rain, which is really not that much for having it rain for over 3 days straight, but actually quite a bit for us.
    I have to admit that I was starting to get a little jumpy having to stay indoors so much and really felt sorry for the pups, as they did not even want to go out to go potty in the rain. So when the rains stopped and the clouds finally parted on Friday, there was almost a celebration that took place with all of us. We wasted no time getting outside to enjoy things.
    Despite the fact that the weather pretty much kept us indoors almost all week, I did keep my promise from last week's entry and I do have some pictures to share with you. The first is an indoors pic. Poor Gracie did not feel real well early in the week and was up early fussing. I had already started work, so Nora brought her down with her and comforted her in our bed. After a while, Nora had to get ready for work, so big brother Huck hopped into bed to take over taking care of Grace.
    The timing of the clearing of the weather was also very good for a pretty important event in the Keweenaw. Friday was the start of our local Relay For Life and that is sure not the event you want to try and have in weather like we had this week. So thankfully the rains stopped in time for them to set things up and by the time the event started, the clouds were breaking up and by evening the skies were clear and remained that way for the rest of the event. Last year we missed the relay because of traveling south for a family function, but this year we were in town, so we headed down and let Grace take part in her first Relay for Life.
    Both Nora and I were a little concerned how she would do with all that is going on. We did bring her stroller and had her in it for a while. Then after a while she seemed to be growing a little tired of being in it, so we got her out and let her go on her own and go she went. She had an absolute blast walking around the track and then running. I think it is about 1/4 of a mile all the way around the track and that little girl ended up running all the way around the whole track without stopping. Thankfully her run is a brisk walk for me, or I would not have been able to keep up! Seriously.
    Yesterday was a beautiful day, so of course a lot of it was spent outdoors. Grace broke out her personal watercraft and took some spins on it. Then it was time to hop on the bike and take it for a spin. It started to get a little warm in the sun, so she took a break inside the shop. She pointed to the TV on the wall and said: "Brap, Brap", which means that she wanted to watch a snowmobile DVD, so we popped one in and hung out for a while as the DVD played. Of course a true sled head cannot sit and watch a snowmobile DVD without getting the itch to get on a sled and ride, so she climbed over to my sled and climbed up on it. After all that activity, it was time to chill out and have a popsicle with her buddy. Actually, I have to tell the truth. That last pic was taken earlier in the week when it was still raining, but I thought it would make a nice closing to that little chapter of this entry and it was way too cute of a picture to leave out.
    Not only is today sunny, but it is also getting pretty warm. Nora and I did put the pool up about a week ago, but with all the cold weather and rain, it's temp is only around 60 degrees. I do plan to start heating it soon, but for now it is way too cold to swim in, so Nora picked up a little inflatable pool and set it up out in the full sun where the water will be able to warm up much quicker. Grace did not need for the water to warm up today and jumped in and was all smiles. It sure is nice to have some nice weather!
    Needless to say there are some good things to say about all the rain we have had. For one the woods are a deep green and the fire risk is almost nil right now. The grass is also nice and green and I have not had to water it once yet. Usually by now I am watering the grass over the septic field every 3 days or so to keep it from turning brown due to all the sand underneath it. Third, the lake level is going to rise a bit. It is still quite low due to sub-average precip the past 2-3 years. I am a little worried to see how the bug population responds to this- especially the mosquitoes, but only time will tell.
    I guess that about covers it for this one. Even though we are still struggling to see summer lock in up here, I am sure that we will have that type of weather arrive and lock in and then I will be writing about how I am looking forward to the cooler days and nights of autumn! Hey, the amount of daylight is decreasing now, so those autumn days and nights are not a long way off!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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June 19-
    Well, no question as to if I was going to be able to write this week or not, but to tell you the honest truth, I really do not have a lot of wisdom to share and not a single picture either.
    First off, Happy Fathers Day dads! It was my second and a good one. Gracie came down from waking up this morning with a card in her hands a a big smile on her face. She then proceeded to walk over to me while I was sitting on the couch, climb up, sit next to me and hand me the car, all while retaining that big smile on her face. Nora said that she even picked out the card herself. She was so proud to hand me that card this morning and she is so cute how she loves to please us.
    So, the week has been pretty busy, but not with much that is exciting for all of you. I did start driving on Monday and also started cardiac rehab. The rehab right now is all pretty light exercise. I walk for about 10 minutes on a tread mill, do some work on a couple of exercise bikes, there is a machine that you pedal with your hands and then there are also the before and after stretches. They keep saying, apologizing really, about how the workouts are not much right now, but will increase in their difficulty. I keep telling them that I am not worried at all, that the reason I signed up for the rehab was that I knew that they knew the proper way to get my body back into action.
    The rehab does take up a considerable amount of my free time and it does wear me out a bit, so I am doing less in the way of exercise here at home, which means less walks and no jaunts into the woods for exploration yet, but in time that will happen. I have taken a few walks with Nora, Grace and the pups, including a 2 miler, which went even smoother than my first one. So all in all, my recovery keeps moving in the right direction. I still have quite a bit of tenderness associated with them cutting the sternum in half and spreading my rib cages apart. Sneezing is still a real torture, but coughing is more tolerable and this will be my second week off of the strong pain meds. I still take some extra strength Tylenol from time to time.
    The weather this week was nearly picture perfect much of the time. About exactly what one would expect coming this far north into the UP in the summer. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday all were mostly sunny, with highs in the low 70's and low humidity. Overnight temps dropped into the 50's which made for excellent sleeping weather. Thursday and Saturday were overcast, but dry and cool and today it has been raining non stop all day. We actually did need the rain, so I guess it could be considered a good thing. Although it would be nice to get the rain during the night rather than the day. Can't have everything I guess. 
    We are suppose to get more rain Tuesday, Wednesday and maybe into Thursday, but again, we could use it. The grass was starting to turn brown. The main bummer part is the fact that yesterday we put up the pool. So it is going to be way too cool and rainy this week to even think of warming it up and using it. I guess we'll have to see how next week goes.
    Even with the pretty dry weather (up until today), the bugs have seen to have made a bit of a come back. Mostly the mosquitos. While they are not much of a problem in the middle of the day when the sun is so strong. If you are in a heavily shaded spot or the clouds are pretty thick, then they are a real issue. The black flies are also still a problem but not as bad as they could be and we probably only have about 2 weeks left with them being much of an issue. I heard that the biting beach flies were out early this week, which makes sense as they tend to pop up right around my birthday. I learned pretty quick after moving up here to avoid the beaches from around my birthday and the two weeks following. So by next week some time, they should not be as much of an issue.
    So that was the weather and bug report. Not much else to comment on. I do plan to start up the summer forecasts. I have some things to work on this week and next, so I am thinking on starting them up after the weekend of the 4th. I realize that a lot of you will be wondering what the weekend of the 4th will bring, but I just don't think I can realistically do all I need to and the summer forecasts. So look for them to start up around the 5th of July or there abouts.
   Also, I did mention this on the discussion board, but I think I forgot to mention it in the journal. Anyway, we have picked the dates for the 4th annual Keweenaw Trails Work session. It will be Friday October 21st and Saturday October 22nd. We will be staging out of Lac La Belle, but participants in the work session will be able to lodge for free at either the Pines in Copper Harbor or the Lac La Belle Lodge in Lac La Belle. We will be providing sack lunches both days and I will be smoking up some brisket and pulled pork for the dinner on Saturday. Sounds like there are already quite a few planning to come and I hope to see as many of you as possible. We get a lot of work done and it is also a lot of fun.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. I promise to try and have some pics for next week.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
June 12-
    Whew, I thought for a moment that I was going to have to postpone this weeks entry until tomorrow. Typically I write in the late afternoon and Grace was still taking a nap and so I did not go up and do any work towards this weeks entry because I did not want to risk waking her up. Then once she woke up, we all had dinner and of course the slows set in as the food settled into my belly. I actually have a pretty busy day tomorrow, so decided to head up and just work through the sluggish feeling I had and hope that my sails caught a second wind and as luck would have it, as I was working with the images, my sails filled with a breeze and I will be able to make my way through this entry.
    I am continuing to improve. I have been slowly weaning myself off the pain meds and have been med free for a few days. I also started to take some short walks with the pups every day that actually grew into me being able to do what we call "the loop". It is a route that I take every morning with the pups all year long and is about 2 miles long. So I am very pleased with where I am right now. Still quite a ways to go until I am what I consider 100%, but walking 2 miles just 3 weeks after being cracked open and shut down is pretty good and way better than the last time.
    I start cardiac physical therapy tomorrow and will also start driving tomorrow. Both of which I am looking forward to, but probably the driving more than the therapy. I am sure that the therapy will get a little old after a while, but I REALLY want to get myself into the best shape I have been in since college and that will be the first step. Then will come workouts on the elliptical, Bowflex and I even plan to break out the roller blades. There is an outdoor ice rink not too far away and it has a concrete floor to it along with boards, which will be perfect to do some skating. I doubt I will be able to get into the shape I was in while playing hockey in college. In those long ago days I could sprint up 10 flights of stairs and barely even be winded (at 7000 feet above sea level). However, I do want to be in very good shape so I can enjoy all that can be living up here and be in shape to do all the projects I have waiting for me.
    Not much else has been going on up here. Most of my days have been spent on playing catch up with things that I fell behind while out of commission as well as the regular day to day activities. No hospital visits- except to get my blood clotting time checked (I am on a blood thinner for the rest of my life from the first valve surgeries), which is a very good thing. The weather has been nothing to complain about really. A bit on the cool side, but given just about everywhere else in the Midwest were in the 90's and even some 100's, I'll take some days in the 50's with open arms. Today was beautiful with temps in the low 70's and sunshine and it looks like we will be blessed with lots of sunshine and 60's and 70's this week. 
    Another plus is that the mosquitos seem to have backed off quite a bit. The black flies are still out, but are not so bad that you don't want to be outside. Plus they only have a few more weeks left in their life cycle and will be done for the season. So maybe, just maybe the bug issue will be tolerable. 
    We had a visitor appear this week. That is probably one of the first raccoons that I have seen since I moved up here. Back in northern IL and southern WI they were very plentiful. Anyway, I picked up a pellet gun (just to sting it and hope to scare it away) and we also borrowed a live trap. I only plan to use the gun if it is convenient and the real plan is to live trap it and relocate it to the other side of the county. I have actually not seen it since that picture was taken, which was Thursday evening, but I know that just because I have not seen it, does not mean it is not still hanging around. I guess I am just hoping it realized that with us and the pups here, life will be difficult if it hangs around. So far no garbage issues either (knock on wood).
    Grace has been pretty busy. She has been making the rounds at garage sales, shopping centers and the playgrounds. Nora found a really nice playground not too far away and they have been heading over there on most evenings when the weather is nice. One of our neighbors actually has a pretty nice swing set and slide that they are not using anymore and when I get feeling strong enough, they said we could come over and grab it and have it for Grace. Until then, Grace will likely be making lots of trips to the public playground, which will not be any problem for her with all they have to do there.
    One of the slides is inside a tube that has holes on the sides. At first she made use of the holes to play peak-a-boo, but then in true Grace-the-Adventurer form, she used the holes to shimmy up the slide. She really is full of adventure and loves to be a dare devil.
    The other day Nora and Grace stopped off to pick up the live trap for the raccoon and the folks that we borrowed it from have a trampoline. That is actually one thing that we will never get for our house. I have heard of way too many accidents involving them, but while Grace is so small, I don't have a problem with her bouncing around on one. I missed it, but Nora grabbed a few shots and told me that Grace had a total blast playing on it. Here is an action shot.
    Grace has also been spending a lot of time in the kitchen helping both Nora and I make things, so we thought she might enjoy having one of those play kitchen sets, so we picked up one the other day. Well, I am here to tell you that I have put quite a few things together for Grace already and that kitchen set was the toughest yet. About a thousand injection molded pieces all tethered to each other, so they first had to be cut free and then have the little plastic nib cleaned off before the assembly could even occur. 2 1/2 hours later and it was completed and Grace loved it. What really made it all worth while was when Nora whispered to Grace that she should go over and thank me for putting it together. I did not hear Nora do that, I was busy cleaning up after the construction, but little Grace came over to me and said "Dadda, thanks" about three times and then asked for a hug. No amount of money in the world can ever buy those moments. Although if I could figure out way to bottle the feeling I had in my heart and sell it to the masses, I would be the wealthiest person in the world within weeks. I guess I will just have to settle for being the richest man in the world. :)
 
    So I guess another week has come and passed. Not sure what the week ahead will bring, but perhaps it will be the first adventure into the woods since the surgery. Stay tuned...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

June 6-
    Ok, I'm back. Actually, not long after writing that I had hit the wall yesterday, I bounced back, but I had already put that note out there and I figured rather than cause a bunch of confusion, I would just stick to the plan.
    As I mentioned, I am feeling pretty good and each day seems to be better than the last. The improvements cannot probably be measured on a daily scale, but when I look back to how I was a week ago, I can see some meaningful improvements. in fact, yesterday, I took a walk with Nora, Grace and the pups. We did not go really far, but did manage to walk down to the end of the road and back, which is about a half mile at least- if not a bit more. I felt good and strong while walking and at the end of the walk. Most of it was pretty level, but there was a few small hills. I was pushing Grace in the stroller, so that was a bit of an added work out for me- especially when we were going up the small hills.
    I think the main thing I would like to be able to get beyond is having to take the stronger pain meds to feel good. I try on an almost daily basis, but I just get to feeling too run down and uncomfortable and have to take one. Once it kicks in, then I usually feel really good. Sometimes so good, I feel like I could do anything. I am not taking as many pain pills as I was a week ago, so I think I am moving in the right direction, I guess I just feel like they are a crutch I am leaning on and wish I did not have to. However, I am glad that they are there and are working and know that the day is not too far off that I will be able to stop taking them for good.
    I'm still leading a pretty quiet life. Nora went back to work last Wednesday, so I am home all day with the pups and pretty much stuck here as I cannot drive for another week, but it is not that important that I drive at this point, although I will be happy to be able to get out and drive myself around if I need something. I think Nora will be happy to not have to be my chauffer or errand runner. 
    The weather up here has definitely become summer like. We are not in the heat and humidity on a daily basis like many areas to our south have been, but we get tastes of the warm and humid air and when it cools down, it is not getting cold anymore. I think we will be needing to put our air conditioners in the windows soon and the pool is probably not too far off in the future from being put up.
    This weekend was actually one of the "cool" periods, but it was still sunny and warm enough to head to the beach and let everyone have some fun. It took about 1.2 seconds for the pups to jump out of the truck and get into the water to swim. This was their first time to the beach since last autumn and they had a blast fetching the stick. We forgot a tennis ball for Millie, but she seemed to have lots of fun with the stick and playing with her brother. Grace took off her shoes and socks and went barefooting down the beach. She even had no problems sticking her feet into the 38 degree water
    Everything was going just fine until Grace decided she wanted to walk out into the lake. Both Nora and I had been making sure to hold her hand so she did not wade into the deeper water and the split second that she was not holding onto Nora's hand, she headed out to sea and ended up stumbling and doing a belly flop into the frigid water. Nora was able pull her out immediately, but the damage had been done. Grace was soaked from head to toe and none to happy about the situation. We did not have a change of clothes, so we had to pile into the truck and head home.
    Grace sure has been getting bigger and acting bigger with each passing day. She still will not slow down for a minute- going full steam ahead from the time she wakes up until she takes a nap and then again from the end of nap time to the time she goes to bed. One thing that is nice is that she is finding lots of ways to entertain herself. It has to be a little tough for her being the only child in the house. She does have Huck and Millie to play with and I think that as she gets older and better understands what they like to do to play, she will do more with them, but for now, her main playmates are Nora, and to a lesser extent, me.
    The other weekend, Nora planted her pots and weeded her garden and Grace had an absolute blast helping her. Nora said that she really did help too and not just play in the mud. Grace has really taken to understanding what to help means and loves to do it. I sure hope that this trend continues! 
    The other day Nora gave Grace some playdough to play with outside. So Grace took it to a comfortable place to sit down and she sat and played with the playdough for quite some time. Here is a cute candid photo of her in the midst of playing. In side, her knack for wanting to stack things continues. She likes to open one of the cupboards and take canned goods out and see how high she can stack them. Here is one of her latest stacking accomplishments.
    Yesterday, I had a hankering for some sugar cookies, so Nora and Gracie decided that they would make some homemade ones for me. Grace did really well in helping Nora add each ingredient to the mixer. They mixed up the batter and started baking the cookies. While the first batch of cookies was baking, the started in on the frosting for the cookies. They added the butter and vanilla and mixed them together and then came the powdered sugar. It was added and then the mixer was turned on. Only it was on a bit too high of a speed and the powdered sugar went all over the place, including Gracie! As you can tell by the look on her face, she thought it was quite a funny thing and we all got a good laugh out of it.
    The last picture I have for you is of the great hunter Millie. Yesterday she wanted to go out, so I let her out and she meandered around the yard. What I did not know was that there was a deer on the edge of the woods when I let her out and all the while Mille walked around the yard, the deer was keeping an eye on her. Once Millie finished her business, I called her in and just before she came in, Nora took a shot of Mille with the unknown deer right behind her. To be fair to Millie, the wind was blowing toward the deer and she had been let out with instructions to do her business, but both Nora and I thought it was funny that the deer was so close and Millie did not know.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. Hopefully the next entry will be about how much better I am feeling and I will also be on the verge of being able to drive again and I think once that happens then some small walks in the woods will likely start to take place, although, boy are the mosquitos and black flies ever nasty right now.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

June 5-
    Feeling pretty good, but just hit the wall this evening, so will write tomorrow.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 

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