Well, we made it. The
final entry for July 2012! I just read a little weekly article in our local
newspaper where the writer talked about how July was his favorite month. I
suppose it may be that way for a good portion of the population in general,
but I think it is pretty safe to say that for the majority of the population
reading this, July probably ranks somewhere at the bottom of the list of
favorite months. I think I would have to probably rank it at or tied with
April for the least favorite of my months.
So it is with a happy heart that I write the final entry
for July and set my sights on August. The month that sees our average daily
high go from 76 at the beginning of the month to 68 by the end of the month.
August is also the month that ends with the sun having already set by the
time my head hits the pillow. There is still some twilight going on, but at
least it is not broad daylight like it is at the end of June and much of
July! It is also the month were we start to have cooler and cooler overnight
temps as the humidity typically starts to wane and we get more hours of
darkness. My spirits really start to soar when we move from August to
September, but I will save those thoughts for about a month from now.
It's been a very busy week for me. Not so much in the
play department, but in the "getting all our ducks in a row for the
building of the addition" department. I have a feeling that in the
coming weeks and month or two, more and more of my writings will revolve
around the addition and then from about early April through most of next
summer, it will be a lot of what I am talking about.
This week has been spent meeting with contractors to
discuss bids, lighting fires under contractors to get the bids and plugging
numbers into an excel spreadsheet that I have created for cost estimating. I
have to admit that the final number keeps growing and growing and is now
beyond what I really wanted to spend, but not to the breaking point either.
I can also say that I have tried to be very diligent in my cost estimating,
even down to the drawer pulls, hinges and slides that I plan to use in the
kitchen cabinets that I will build for our kitchen remodel. I have also used
the high end of the price range for things like lighting fixtures and
flooring. So I think by the time all the bids are finished coming in and we
reach the final estimate, it will be very close to the final price, but of
course I will use what ever contingency overrun figure the bank things is
necessary. I am working with a very good and experienced loan officer and
will really trust her thoughts on things.
I don't know if I mentioned it, but we plan to put the
foundation in this autumn. It will be slab on grade, just like the current
home (as to be done that way), so there will be no harm in letting it sit
with no building on it all winter. Getting the foundation done this autumn
will get us about 6-8 weeks ahead of the game when it comes time to start
things back up next spring. We live on a county road that gets
"posted", meaning weight restrictions are put into effect to help
keep the road from being damaged as the frost comes out of the ground. Those
restrictions typically do not come down until the middle to end of May,
which means if we did nothing this autumn, we would have to wait until the
middle to end of May before any of the heavy equipment could get in to prep
the land for the foundation. With the foundation in, we can start framing as
soon as the snow leaves the slab- which will most likely get helped by me
and my trusty Ariens 1028 when the snows start their spring melting. My hope
is to get the addition closed in before the bugs get bad, then I can spend
the bug season working on all the inside things and move back outside once
the bug, mainly blackfly, season ends.
Speaking of bugs, the season for deer flies seems to be
drawing to a close. They really are only a problem on our morning walks with
the pups and mainly a problem for poor Hucky and I- especially Huck. They
seem to be attracted to his dark fur more than Millie's light fur and also
seem to like to buzz my head. They also come up from behind and like to land
on the back of our heads or neck. I got a fisherman's hat with the flaps on
the back to keep them off my head and neck, but poor Huck just has to deal
with them. At times during the height of the deer fly season, there will be
a dozen or so buzzing his head. The good news for him is that his fur is
thick enough in most spots to keep them from biting him, with only his snout
being vulnerable. Even so, I feel so sorry for him having to deal with them
buzzing him, as I know before I got my special hat, even one buzzing me
would drive me crazy- especially because they fly behind you and it's very
hard to see them. Anyway, on our walks this week, they became less and less
problematic and on this mornings walk, not a single one was encountered.
The other bugs like black flies are long gone and
mosquitos are only a problem if you are in Toivola (little joke there, great
place if you have not been there since the new owners took over). Actually,
the mosquitos are only a problem if you are in the deeper woods around dusk
or dawn. So we are not at the best time of the summer to be here. Temps
comfortable, water at it's warmest and very little problem with bugs.
AND....the berries are delicious!
How's that for a segway? Obviously, the strawberry crop
has come and gone as it is a late June-early July thing, but the raspberries
have been ready for picking for a week or two now and the blueberries are
also in full picking mode and even the blackberries are starting to come on
line. Kind of unusual for the blackberries to be ripening so early. Usually,
they are a labor day berry to pick. At any rate. Nora, Gracie and I headed
out to pick blueberries this past Thursday evening. There is a blueberry
farm out by Rice Lake and last year Nora picked a bunch and we froze them
and enjoyed them all autumn, winter and spring. In fact, we still have quite
a few left over. Not enough to last us until next season, so
we got to picken'.
This was my first visit to this farm to pick, usually we
just hunt down some of the spots where they grow naturally and spend our
time picking them. At any rate, the bushes out there were just loaded
with berries this year. I did not know if it was always like this, but
Nora said the bushes had lots more berries on them this year than last. I
don't know how many of you have ever picked wild blueberries or have even
seen them, but they are considerably smaller than the domestic variety.
Pretty much the size of a pea. They are also more flavorful. Each small wild
blueberry packs about the same amount of flavor that it's larger domestic
cousin does. Plus, they contain the highest amount of anti-oxidants of any
fruit out there.
Because of their smaller size, it can take a very long
time to pick enough to do things like make a pie or jam. I know a few years
ago, Nora and I spend several picking session totaling about 5-6 hours total
to pick enough to make a few pints of jam. Very good, but a ton of
back-breaking work. At the farm, they have rakes that you use to pull the
berries off the bushes. The tines on the rakes are sized so that they pull
the berries off, but leave most of the branches and leaves on the bushes.
Some of the branches and leaves come off, but not a lot. With the bushes
being so loaded and utilizing the rakes, Nora and I were able to pick 20
pounds of berries in about 15 minutes!
The farm has a machine that separates the berries from the
stems and leaves very well and then you just have to do one more sorting to
separate the ripe berries from those that are not ripe. I say
"just", but it is actually a fairly time intensive process. It
took us (mostly Nora) about 2-3 hours to separate the good berries from the
bad. Here is a shot of Grace
behind a bowl that contained about 1/2 of our pickings that still needed
to be sorted.
After the final sorting is done, we wash them and rinse
them and spread them into a single layer on cookie sheets and freeze them.
Then we put them into the vacuum seal bags, for storage in the freezer. As
said, we still have berries from last season that we are eating and their
quality are just as good as the day we put them into the vacuum bags a year
ago. We could not let at least some of the fresh ones go without immediate
consumption. I actually ate a bunch while picking and then sorting and Nora
baked up a pie
that lasted about 2 days! I was about the only one eating it as Nora is
being very good about what she eats these days and Grace had a piece on
Friday. Blueberry pie is my favorite and made with wild berries only makes
it that much better. I look to lots of pies in the future with all that we
have in our chest freezer in the shop.
The weather has been beautiful again this week, with very
comfortable temps and humidity. A bit warm and sticky today, but that is
temps in the low 80's and dewpoints around 60. Hardly warm and sticky to the
folks that have been in the 90's and 100's with dewpoints in the 70's. Hang
on there folks, we are turning the corner on this summer. Still about a
month of potential heat and humidity to go and the forecast looks pretty
warm and humid this week, but then by next weekend, cooler and less humid
air could be into all areas for around 4-6 days. So we are getting closer
I can also add that the annual wood cutting party is
being planned for either the end of this month or early September. I know
that most of you are very busy at that time of the year and also have lots
of better things to do than cut and stack firewood for me, but I will be
smoking another brisket and I think we are planning on heading out on the
ATV's after the cutting is done on Saturday. So for those looking for an
excuse to come up and do some ATVing, you can always tell your spouse that
you are coming up to help me cut firewood! :)
I guess that about covers it for this one. Keep cool
everyone, autumn is getting closer and closer!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
|This business directly sponsors
Hi all, hope this will
not come as too big of a let-down, but it's back to me, John, writing this
week. My big thanks to Nora for taking over last week. She did an excellent
job and it was very nice to be able to have a week off. I may just have to
send her off on more vacations if it means I can get a break from writing!
Actually, it's not that bad. The worst weeks are when I have nothing to say,
but yet I know there are so many folks checking in. It is actually a breeze
when I have material and through the course of the past 13 years that I have
been writing, I have it pretty streamlined, so it usually does not take
hours and hours to do either...usually!
Anyway, I have been writing all summer about how
wonderful our weather has been and how I was in no hurry for it to come to
an end, but there are some cracks in the armor starting to develop in that
thinking. Not that I am totally sick of summer yet, but am starting to think
more and more about autumn and especially winter and am growing more and
more excited for it to arrive. I think the whole process might have been
helped along by the weather we had on Monday. Now, I realize that I am
"preaching to the choir" to many of you when I say what I am about
to say, but please bear with me. Monday started out innocent enough, with
clouds, temps in the low 60's and even a bit of rain late morning, but then
the clouds broke, the temp and humidity spiked and it was downright nasty. A
high temp of 91 and a dewpoint of 76!
Again, you can spare me the stories of misery from the
land down to the south of us. I know what you all have been going through
and you have my deepest sympathy. I have lived through several of these
types of summers and it just gets to be such a difficult thing for someone
who is not fond of heat and humidity. On the plus side, I have talked with
several business owners up here and they say they are having a very good
summer, so the word must be out on how wonderful the Keweenaw has been to be
I can say that the nasty stuff we had on Monday was shore
lived and we did spend pretty much the rest of the week in the beautiful
Keweenaw summer weather, with highs in the 70's and 80's and low humidity.
Overnight lows into the 50's as well. Ok...I'll stop rubbing it in for now.
I am going to back up a bit now, to before Nora wrote last
week, but after she returned from her fishing trip to MN. The day after she
got back, we had my Mom and Niece come up to visit us for a few days. My
Niece lives in FL, so we do not get to see her much. She is a teacher and
has the summer off, so she has been on a bit of a nation-wide visiting
spree, seeing her brother in Washington state, my mom in WI and then swung
up here with my mom to visit for a few days.
I think they had a good time. Nora took a day off so that
she could play tour guide and I joined in on the fun when I was off from
work. Here is a shot of the
two of them with Gracie and I in Eagle River one evening. The big lake
has warmed up nicely this summer and Gracie was all too happy to don
her yellow bikini and model for us on the beach.
Fast forward now to this past week and we will keep the
beach theme going. We have actually been spending LOTS of time at the beach.
Saturday of last week, I went with the pups to a beach between Gay and Lac
La Belle and was really bummed that I did not bring my swim suit and my
camera. The winds were blowing out of the south and that allowed the water
that really warms up in Keweenaw Bay to flow north and I swear it had to be
in the upper 70's to low 80's. It was not shocking at all, but yet was
refreshing. I am going to keep my eyes out for another stretch of southerly
winds and if able, we will head there again and hope for similarly warm
Anyway, we are moving forward with our plans to add onto
the cabin and make it a "house". The plan is to get the foundation
in before winter arrives and then resume the building process next spring
and summer. So, I have been very busy getting all the ducks in a row so that
we can move some dirt and get the foundation in this autumn. That has
included making some trips to the county courthouse in Eagle River. Well,
you can't go to the lakefront on business with the pups in the truck without
making a stop a the beach as well and that is exactly what we did a few
times this week. Up until a few weeks ago, we had not spent much time at the
beaches, but the pups did not forget how to have fun there, with Millie
chasing down her tennis ball and Huck
swimming out to retrieve his "fetch". Occasionally, they share
in the retrieval of the fetch.
Today, the forecast called for temps to top out near 90
(it's 88 as I type), so plans were made for the Dee clan to pile into the
truck and head to the beach and have some fun. The plan was carried out to
near perfection. As is typical on many of the stretches of the beaches of
the Keweenaw, we had
the place to ourselves the whole time we were there.
We commenced on the beach fun by having
a little picnic, then the dogs moved onto doing their thing. Here is a
shot of Huck in action
and one of Millie.
We were actually very near where the pups and I
experienced the wonderful, warm water last week, but with the winds out of
the west the past few days, it was noticeably cooler today than last
Saturday. Even so, I did decide to see if I might be able to pull off a swim
in Superior. So I
headed out and the pups were quick to follow. Gracie
joined in to make it a quartet and we headed out into deeper water. Of
course the water got deep enough for Grace to swim before it had even
reached my waist and so we did not go out too far, but we did go far enough
and initiated the countdown and Nora timed it perfectly to catch my
reaction to the drop into the big lake. It actually was not too bad. I
think what makes it worse is that my skin got so warm from the sun and warm
temps, that initially, the lake felt colder than it really was. Once in for
a bit, it was not that bad to be in it anymore. With that said, it's not a
heated pool like this old dog is used to, so we did not stay out there too
After all that excitement, it was time
for a break and to return some pink color back to my lips! Grace broke
out her Cinderella doll and gave
her a bath. All told we spent about 2 hours at the beach and had a
blast. We are so fortunate to be so close to so many beautiful spots to go
and hang out at the lake and the drive to get to any of those spots ain't
half bad either!
The summer weather has not only been good to us humans,
but the woods look very good, the thimbleberry crop is a bumper one and I
think Nora has plans to go pick some raspberries this week. Gracie and I
picked a few on the side of our driveway this morning for a nice little
snack and it looks like the blackberries will be ready in just a few weeks,
typically they are not ready for picking until Labor Day. The tiny little
tomato plants that we put into the planters I made back in early June have exploded
into monsters and Nora picked her first tomato of the season today and this
one looks like it will be ready for picking in another day or two.
So, I guess that about covers it for this one. The summer
is flying by and it's kind of hard to believe that in just over a month, it
will be over in this neck of the woods and that in a little over 2 months,
we could be seeing the first chance of snow in the forecast. As mentioned at
the top of this entry, I am not quite ready for all of that to happen, but
the anticipation of the changing of the season is growing.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Well, it’s that time again. John is
taking a much needed break from writing a journal. I must admit that I still
don’t really like writing journals. I wish I did because it would put me
in the "best wife ever" category, but my not so good writing
skills, and lack of anything much interesting to say, keeps me away from
volunteering each Sunday afternoon.
I guess I should start this entry by thanking my husband.
I turned the big 40 this year and as my gift he sent me, along with my
brothers, on a fishing trip to northern Minnesota. I had mentioned a few
years back that it would be fun to go fishing with my brothers….just the
three of us. Some of you may remember from a past journal that my brothers
and I have been fishing since we were kids. And we have a long outstanding
tradition of me catching the first fish. When thinking about where to send
us on our "sibling only" trip, John knew just the place……Ash
Trail Lodge! John and I spent our honeymoon there 8 years ago and had such a
great time. We had planned to go back to the Lodge for our 5 year
anniversary but unfortunately we were at the Mayo Clinic instead. Having
been to the Ashtrail Lodge before, I knew we were in for a treat! We arrived
at the Lodge and were greeted by the good folks, Debbie and Steve, who own
the Lodge. It didn’t take long for us to settle into our cabin and head
out to the river.
While at the lodge, you can rent a boat and have some fun exploring or you
can also hire a fishing guide. We were booked on Saturday to do some fishing
with Travis from another lodge and then Sunday we went out with Tom from
"The End of the Tail" fishing guide. The Lodge’s pontoon was
free Friday evening, so we headed out to the river to do some exploring and
a little fishing. It was a beautiful afternoon/evening and before long the
first fish was on the line.
I know my brothers will be reading this journal so I’m going to try really
hard to be humble and not rub things in. Let’s just say that the long
standing tradition was not broken on this trip. Before long we were all
catching fish and
having some good laughs. The walleye regulations are a little different in
MN than MI so we spent some time trying to figure out what were keepers and
what weren’t. In Michigan the bigger the better….but that is not the
case in Minnesota. In MN, walleye between 17 inches and 28 inches must be
released. You would not believe how many fish I…um…er…… I mean we
caught that were just a smidge over 17 inches. After a quick stop at the Ash
River Falls, we headed back to the lodge for supper. We had worked up
quite the appetite and boy did we have some good food! Debbie kept our
bellies full all weekend with some very delicious food!
Saturday’s adventures found us fishing with our guide
Travis on Kabetogama Lake or "Kab" as it’s called by the locals.
Kab is 1 of the 4 major lakes that make up the Voyageurs National Park. We
were on the lake by 8:30 and ready to fish. But, before we drop our lines,
we were instructed by Travis on how to fish for walleye in MN. The only way
I’ve fished for walleye is get a bite, set your hook and reel er’ up. In
order to actual catch some fish on our trip I needed to get that system out
of my head. We were told to wait at least 10 seconds before setting the
hook. I know we each missed a few fish at first just because we didn’t
wait it out. The fishing in the morning was fun but we weren’t catching
much. But, there was no complaining from any of us. We were on the lake,
enjoying the beautiful scenes,
having a great time. We were all a little surprised to see a funny looking
bird on a big rock. When we asked Travis what kind of bird it was, we
thought he was joking when he said, "pelicans". But, as the boat
got closer to the rock we realized they were indeed pelicans.
I never knew there were pelicans in Minnesota. Which made us all wonder,
"Why are there no pelicans in the UP?"….I question we still don’t
have a solid answer on. We were told they did a study years back and found
that most of the pelicans were young males.
Around noon we decided to stop for lunch at Ellsworth
Rock Gardens. Jack Ellsworth, who was a carpenter from Chicago, spent
roughly 20 years building the gardens. He built 62 beds which had over
13,000 lilies of all sorts of variations. Jack passed away and the Park took
over the grounds in the late 1970’s. It was a perfect spot for a photo op.
After lunch we headed back on the lake and before long we
started catching some fish.
The last spot we fished, gave us the majority of our keep and before we knew
it, it was time to head back to the cabin. We were sitting around the bar
telling Steve and Tom about our great day of fishing, when we realized that
MN regulations are that you can have no more than 4 fish on your possession.
Which meant, we either needed to "gift" a few fish or eat them up.
It wasn’t long before Tom decided we would head up to Kettle Falls the
following day, and there we could have a shore lunch with the fish we had
caught on Saturday. Before I tell you about Sunday’s trip, I must say that
we were all pretty excited for what Sunday could bring…..a portage, a
shore lunch, Kettle Falls….Sunday morning couldn’t come soon enough!
Saturday evening we decided to head out for a walk and we weren’t
disappointed by the views we saw. We had breakfast at the lodge and met Tom
and Jenna (Tom’s sweet girlfriend) on the dock. The ash river is host to
many cottages, house
boat rentals etc. We arrived on Rainy
Lake and immediately started to catch a lot of fish! At one point, Jeff,
Tom, and I
all had fish on. A nice problem to have! It wasn’t long before we were
joined by a few other boats out fishing. And let’s just say they were not
shy at getting as close to us as possible. Jenna caught the first fish of
the day, and then our side of the boat sort of slowed down in the catching
department. Which was ok by us, because the boys side of the boat was facing
all the other boats….who weren’t catching anything. I say that is what
you get for trying to weasel in on someone’s fishing space….you must be
punished by watching someone else catch all the fish. Throughout the day we
caught a lot of fish….some small
and some big.
Before long it was time for lunch at Kettle
Falls. Maybe I’m just a nerd, but I thought the portage to Kettle
Falls was so cool! Tom called ahead saying that we would need a portage.
Within a few seconds a gentleman shows up in his truck,
Tom drives the boat onto the trailer and you are riding in the back of your
boat through the woods.
It was so cool! There were many times over the trip that I had wished John
was with us, and this was one of them. With lunch in hand
we jumped off the boat and headed down a wooded path
to the Kettle Falls hotel for lunch. Our shore lunch with our fresh catch
from the previous day was just delicious.
After lunch we walked around the hotel and got a little bit of a history
lesson from Jenna. Jenna works for the Park and it was cool to have her with
us. We walked down to the Falls and boy they were really roaring.
It surprised me that on such a beautiful day that we seemed to be the only
tourists by the falls. Interesting tidbit is the boundary
between the US and Canada runs through the middle of the Falls.
The rest of the afternoon was spent catching fish. Tom
was an excellent guide and found us some awesome fishing! And he was so kind
as to hold my fish for me too.
I had dropped this poor guy a few times and I didn’t want to hurt him. And
I knew I was going to need some proof that I actually caught a fish or two.
I hated to see the day end but we had our limit
and it was getting into the evening so we headed back to the lodge.
On the way home, Jenna showed us an eagles nest.
She had the opportunity to go with the folks who band the baby eagles so she
knew just where all the nests were. Notice a little feathered friend here?
We got back and Tom strung up our catch
before he retreated to his "sanctuary".
A quiet little shack where he cleans
the days catch. Not only does he clean them but he packages everything up so
nice….labeled and all!
Thank you Steve, Debbie and Tom for sharing your little
piece of paradise with us. We had a great time and are already planning our
And John Dee….thanks for the awesome present and
manning the fort while I was gone. You are the best!
PS….How’d I do Steve?
Well folks, it looks
like our guest writer for this week is still busy entertaining some friends
in town, so you will have to check back tomorrow or Tuesday to see what she
has to say. 'Till then...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
That is how best to describe our weather. I can remember back to when I was
getting ready to move up here and was most excited for the snowy winters,
but also excited that I would be leaving the long, hot and humid summers of
IL for the cooler, less humid summers of the UP. Then, in a strange twist of
fate, the first few summers up here, were some of the warmest the region had
seen in many years. I can remember those summers, looking at the thermometer
rise into the upper 80's and 90's with regularity and also feeling the nasty
humidity... all the while looking at the average high temp for those days
(mid to upper 70's) and wondering when I would get to live a true UP summer.
I can say that the past few summers have provided an
absence of any sustained heat and humidity, but while northern IL was warmer
and more humid than us, it was also not seeing exceptionally hot and humid
summers. So it goes without saying that this summer I finally feel
vindicated as we have been running in the 70's for highs much of the summer,
with a few days into the 80's and the number of days in the 90's being
counted on one finger- June 10th we hit 91. All this while seeing the nasty
heat and humidity to our south. Actually, much of the UP has seen some
pretty hot temps recently, but the good old Keweenaw, being nearly
surrounded by Lake Superior, has been nice and cool.
I hope that I don't sound like I am rubbing it in,
because that is not my point here. My point is that I am finally seeing the
type of weather setup that should be happening and I am also very
grateful to be able to live where I live and have such wonderful summer
weather to enjoy. I do feel very sorry for all the folks that have had to
endure the torturous heat and humidity the past week and am happy that it
all has eased a bit for you all for now.
This past week was one of our warmest of the summer, with
temps regularly in the 80's. We also had some humidity to contend with, as
dewpoints rose into the upper 60's and even some low 70's. The humidity
broke on Thursday evening, with my dewpoint crashing from an early evening
high of 72 to 52 just a few hours later. That allowed overnight temps to
crash too, with Friday morning lows in the upper 50's. I was actually
hitting the hay when the humidity crash happened, so was not able to take
advantage of mother natures air conditioning and slept with the windows shut
and AC on, but have slept with the windows open and AC off the past two
nights. As much as I love what AC does, I really prefer natural cooling.
We have also been blessed with rains lately. Lots of
rain. Monday night and Tuesday morning I measured 2.7 inches of rain and
then late Friday we picked up another 1.35" of rain. That makes over
4" of rain alone this week. My grass went from looking like the desert
to nice and green again. At least in most spots. The pool even overflowed
with each rain event, but was not a problem. Most of the UP is actually in
the midst of a multi-year drought, so while I can certainly sympathize with
folks enduring the dryness to our south, I am thankful that we are chipping
away at deficits that started over 2 years ago. Perhaps this winter will
really make up for lost ground!
So enough about our weather. The summer is just flying
by. Hard to believe that the Independence Day holiday has already come and
gone. We partook in the festivities in Mohawk this year and I am glad that
Nora made the decision to do so. They do not have fireworks, nor a really
big parade and things do not last all day. However, most of what they do
centers around the kids and it was nice to be part of a celebration in our
own community that was pretty much all about the kids. I was pretty
surprised how many kids live in our general area. Nice to see too!
Anyway, Mohawk puts on a bike parade for the kids and so
Nora went to town decorating her bike and her helmet. We first asked Grace
if she wanted to be in the bike parade and then when she said yes, we asked
if she wanted to ride her tricycle or her bike and she surprised us by
saying her trike. In fact, we asked several times and the answer was always
The parade started at 10 am and Grace was so excited that
she actually climbed into the truck and got herself all buckled into her car
seat all by herself and asked Nora if we could go early. It was not that
much earlier than we were planning to leave, so we granted her wish. It was
probably a lucky thing that we left a little early as we were able to get a
great parking spot and just a few minutes later, that situation had changed
a lot. With a little time to kill, Grace was gracious enough to pose
for the camera a bit. Then it was time to saddle
up and start the show. Here is a shot of her peddling
Before long, all
the participants were in place and the atmosphere was filled with
electricity in anticipation for the parade to start. Things were actually a
little chaotic at first, as we were all packed in pretty tight and many of
the drivers were not the best at holding a steady course, but as the parade
wore on, things spread out nicely and we had fun. Grace did awesome peddling
the few blocks on her tricycle and it's a rare event when you can safely
ride a tricycle down highway 41 through Mohawk.
I had no idea that there was any kind of judging that
went on with the parade and it's participants, but as we were finishing up,
Nick's wife came running up and told Grace that she had won first place in
the bike decorating department. Grace thought it was pretty cool and was
happy to show off her
The event organizers also put together some prize
bags for all the kids and have some fun games for them to play, like a
candy toss. There is also a pretty new concession stand that was build
in the park and it was open and they were selling things like hot dogs,
hamburgers, chips, pop, water and... ice
cream! It wasn't super hot, but warm enough that a nice cold ice cream
cone under the shade of a big maple tree was the perfect thing to be doing.
Nora had volunteered to help with things and so had to
help man the concession stand for the final hour it was open. So Grace and I
hung out at the play ground for most of the time and then when things ended,
we headed home to float in the pool the rest of the afternoon.
Nora is actually out of town right now. She left for the
boundary waters region of MN early Friday morning to fish with her brothers
at the Ash Trail Lodge. She has always wanted to go on a fishing trip with
her bros, so I gave it to her as a birthday present this past March. I have
talked with her a few time since she left and they are having a ton of fun
and catching lots of fish. Perhaps with a bit of arm twisting, I can get HER
to write next week's entry and liven up things for at least a week!
Nora is coming home tomorrow and then we have company
coming up back to back this week, so that should keep us busy and also take
us through the next 7 days pretty quickly. Before I know it, we will be into
August and turning onto the home stretch of summer. I keep saying how
beautiful it has been, but I also am getting excided for autumn and then
winter to come.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Welcome to July! Boy, 2012 is
already half over and I was just thinking to myself that in 3 months we
could already be seeing our first flakes of snow. I should really have my
mouth washed out with soap for saying such a thing with the beautiful summer
we are having up this way. I realize the same cannot be said for areas to
our south (and not even too far at that), with all the nasty heat and
humidity, but we have had one nearly perfect summer day after another, with
temps in the upper 70's to low 80's and fairly low humidity. Such is the
case today, with clear blue Keweenaw skies, a temp of 82 and dewpoint of
Unfortunately, I did not get to spend much of the past
week enjoying the beautiful Keweenaw weather, but rather got to take part in
the heat and humidity while visiting Rochester MN for most of the week. Yep,
made another visit to my good friends at the Mayo Clinic, but this time
drove myself down and for the first time in history...it was not heart
related. Ever since recovering from the latest heart surgery, I have dealt
with some chest tightness. It comes and goes and also have degrees of
discomfort, ranging from just feeling like I did too many push-ups at the
mild end to occasionally being so debilitating that I have to go and lay
down. The tightness was very similar to the tightness I had when I did have
heart issues, but have to my cardiologist several times and have had a
pretty good battery of tests and they all show my heart is pumping just
So back in April, I started keeping a pretty detailed
diary of how I felt during the day as well as my weight that morning. That
helped and it was discovered that the tightness seemed to manifest itself
most after eating and strangely went away after a good workout. That really
pushed the investigating away from the heart and to the GI area and back in
May I had a scope done on my esophagus. Since I am closing in on 50 and have
quite the medical history already, we went ahead and did a colonoscopy at
the same time (different scope!). The scope at the top end revealed that I
have what is called Barette's Esophpagus and the bottom end revealed a few
polyps. The surgeon that did the scopes is a general surgeon and not a GI Dr
and recommended that I see a GI specialist and so having good luck with the
Mayo, we chose to be referred to them.
It was thought that I would go down there and have the
biopsies done on my colon and esophagus, but because of me being on a blood
thinner, we have to address that issue before the surgery can be done, which
meant that I would likely have to stay at the Mayo through all of next week
too. The Dr at Mayo said he had no problem with me coming home and having
the biopsies done here and then the results sent to him. At $100+ a night
and being away from home, it took no prodding to get me to come home!
While at Mayo I had a Esophageal pH test done, which is where they
run a pH sensitive catheter down your esophagus via your nose and keep it
there for 24 hours to measure for reflux. We already knew I had reflux as I
have been on medication for it for years and the Barette's was caused by it,
but it was hoped that it would be confirmed through the test that the reflux
is the culprit behind my tightness. The Barette's would not cause the
tightness. The pH test was inconclusive, mainly because I was so stressed
out that some other symptoms caused by the stress seemed to overshadow the
tightness and I was not able to hit a button to mark when I was feeling
tightness as often as I might have with out the stress.
In any case, they are going to start me on some super
secret, high power, reflux medicine. Actually not so much secret, but I will
say that when I went to go get the prescription filled, the pharmacy did not
have it on hand and the assistant there said he had never even heard of the
medicine and it was not even in their system. So I have to wait until
tomorrow afternoon to pick it up. Hopefully it will get rid of the tightness
or at least lower it to a level that I can live with on a daily basis. I
will have the biopsies done here in a few weeks and hopefully they will come
back fine. I am not too worried about them. The surgeon here said that the
polyps did not appear to be problematic and all the info on Barette's says
it morphs into cancer about 1-4% of the time.
Just so that you don't think I am making all this up, I
did take some pictures of the Mayo Clinic. Actually, I did it because it is
quite an impressive place and one that hopefully none of you will have to
visit. The Mayo Clinic is actually a bunch of different buildings, most of
them connected by underground walkways and even some skyways. St. Mary's
Hospital is also part of the Mayo Complex. It is about 1/2 mile down the
road and is actually where all of the surgeries take place. It is where I
had my two open hearts. Anyway, the two most impressive buildings (in my
opinion) are the Mayo and Gonda. They are connected and actually look like
one building. Here is a
shot of the front of the Mayo/Gonda buildings and here is a
shot of the other side. The inside is just as, or even more, impressive
than the outsides and here is a
shot of the main floor between the two buildings.
I arrived in Rochester late Monday evening and then left
right after my last appointment on Thursday. I drove about has far as I
could Thursday evening and over-nighted in Wausau and then after doing my
morning work Friday, I finished the trip Friday morning and got home in
plenty of time to do the rest of my work for the day on Friday. Needless to
say it was great to get back home. I do not like to leave home in the best
of circumstances and being away from home, my family and then at the Mayo to
be looked at put me at some pretty high stress levels. Getting back home was
like pulling the cork in a shaken up bottle of sparking wine. All the stress
just gushed out of me and I could get back to living the good life.
While I was away, Nora, Gracie and the woman that takes
care of Grace during the day Monday through Friday went strawberry
picking. It is berry season up this way. Actually, strawberry season is waning
and raspberries will be next in a few weeks. Blueberries will also come on
line at the end of the month and then blackberries will be towards the end
of August. Nora said that Grace is a very good berry picker. She sent me a
bunch of photos while I was in Rochester. In
this one, Grace looked so grown up.
So we have a nice big bowl of fresh, local strawberries
in the fridge and Graces sitter made some homemade jam and we have a jar of
it in the fridge, although it's half gone already! I need to get down to the
jam lady in Eagle River to see if they have any wild strawberry jam. Talk
about good! Wild strawberries have about twice the flavor of domesticated
ones and the jam is just incredible. Ok, don't anyone go and get any until I
get a chance Monday or Tuesday this week!
Yesterday was Pasty Fest in Calumet. I'm going to assume
that because you come to this site, you love the UP, so I do not need to
explain what a pasty is. If not, look it up. I am talking about the Cornish
beef pie here, not something you might find on the strip in Hurley!
Anyway, one of the big events at Pasty Fest is a parade,
so Nora, Grace and I picked our spot on main street (in the shade) and waited
for the parade to start. Grace is so cute, she is so full of life and
things like parades just get her so excited. Here favorite part seemed to be
the Calumet High School Marching Band. It looked to be a downsized version
because school is out and some of the band members were probably out of
town. None the less, as the band approached, both Nora and I spotted Grace
tapping her toes to the drums and waving her arms like a majorette. At one
point, she was just frozen
in amazement. I may be wrong, but I think the UP is probably the only
place you will find an entire festival to honor the pasty and probably the
only place where a parade float will be of two
grandmothers making pasties (no they were not tossing pasties to the
parade viewers) and a
Of course there were the typical parade entries like the
politicians (and wanna-be politicians) and then the
brand new fire truck that Calumet got last month. That was meant purely
as a joke and not an insult. ALL the fire departments up here do a great job
and are manned by dedicated VOLUNTEERS and they also have some really nice
fire fighting equipment. The Allouez Township Boys were here lickidy split
when we place a 911 call when I was not feeling so well after my first heart
surgery and I am grateful to then for their service and assistance.
As mentioned, no pasties were thrown from the parade
participants, but lots of candy was. Gracie
did pretty well in her collecting yesterday and mommy and I helped her
taste test some of it! Here is one last shot of Gracie
and I at the parade yesterday.
So that pretty much covers it for this one. I get to stay
put for the entire month of July, but Nora will be heading to the Ash Trail
Lodge in northern MN to do some fishing with her Bro's late this week
through the weekend. Even though I hate to leave the Keweenaw and have
already been away far too much this summer, I am a little envious of her
going to the ATL. It is where Nora and I honeymooned and had fun getting to
know the wonderful and fun owners and she is going to have a blast.
Hopefully catches some whoppers too! Before I sign off, I will leave you
with one last picture of Grace
and her body-man sleeping together in my spot of the bed while I was out
Good night from the Keweenaw..