July 26-
    Boy, where did July go? Seems like it was June just last week! I don't mind, July is actually my least favorite of the entire year. It is the month when the previous winter has become a faded memory and also the month when the upcoming winter is still a long way off. So I am never too sad so say good bye to July and hello to August.
    The big news this week is that Nora is in Texas. The baby has not arrived, but the mother went into pseudo-labor last week. Being a man I feel a little guilty calling it "pseudo-labor" as I will never experience any kind of labor, but the contractions were far apart and she was only 2 cm dilated and the hospital just sent her home saying that if the contractions became more frequent, then she should come back right away. She really seemed to want to have Nora there, they have become pretty good friends in the past month or two (anyone knowing Nora can attest to how easy that is, me included). So Nora flew down alone yesterday and then once the baby is born, I will fly down and spend around 4 days and then come back and man the home front. There is a procedure that the states of Texas and Michigan need to do before the child can leave the state of Texas and that takes about 6-10 days after birth, so poor Nora will be in the heat and humidity of Texas for about 2 weeks. Something tells me she will be distracted enough from the weather to not be effected by it too much.
    It's funny though, through this whole adoption process, I have had what I guess you could call "emotional levels". When we first signed up with the local agency, I was excited, but knew it was a long road, so was not all giddy. Then when we signed up with the current agency and knew that it would probably be less than a year before we were matched, I reached a slightly higher level of excitement. Then when we were match, another level. Another level was reached when we found out it was going to be a girl and the latest level was when we got the call that she was going into labor and wanted Nora to be there. I am sure there will be three more levels, maybe more. The three I can think of are when the baby is born; then the first time I hold her and I think the pinnacle will be when the papers are signed and we are walking out of the hospital with the little girl in our arms. Recently the dam has showed signs of cracking and there have been a few drops of water seeping past it (in the form of some tears of joy from my eyes), but I can almost guarantee that the whole darn dam will come crashing down when we leave that hospital with her. I wonder if my feet will even touch the ground? We'll see and I will be sure to let you all know how it goes.
    In other news, the pups got their stitches out from their operations on Thursday and it was a bit of a dam breaking for them. They could finally run free and do anything they wanted. The vet said that we did an excellent job of keeping their sites clean and all healed up well. I have to admit that I did start to let them go free a few days before the stitches were removed, but we also went the full 14 days and they could have come out at 10. With us finding out about the baby potentially on the way and Nora scrambling to get airline tickets and make other plans, we really could not do much more than take them for their regular walks Thursday and Friday, but then yesterday after I dropped Nora off at the airport, I picked up the pups and we went to the beach. It was not what most folks would call a nice day to be at the beach, with temps in the 50's, cloudy skies and fog, but any day is a good day to be at the beach if you are a Labrador Retriever. I really thought we would have the pick of the litter in the way of beaches to go to, but July and August are high time up here for visitors to the area and while we did find a stretch we could stake a claim to, just down the beach a bit were some others. I do have to admit that the weather did not impact me at all either and it felt just to wonderful to be at the beach with the pups again, I only had wished that Nora could have joined us, but that will happen soon.
    It's really cute how both Huck and Millie each have their favorite thing to do at the beach. Millie loves to fetch a tennis ball thrown down the beach and Huck loves to fetch a stick thrown into the lake. It works out pretty well too. I just keep both processes going and they both tend to mind their own business and we all have a good time. They did mix it up a bit, with Millie fetching the stick a few times and Huck running after the ball a couple of times. I was having some friends over in the evening (more on that in a bit), so I really wanted to wear the pups out as much as possible, so we were there for almost an hour. It seemed like they were starting to tire a bit, so I asked them if they were ready to go home and they both took off towards the blazer, so I got my answer. They sure are smart dogs.
    We got back to the house and made the final preparations for the party. It was actually the "Premiere Party" for the DVD we put together for our latest trip out west. We never all meet as a single group in the summer, so I came up with the idea that we should all get together at our place and watch the DVD and have a good time. The problem is, in the summer, everyone has lots of stuff going on and it was hard to find a weekend that worked good for everyone. As luck would have it, July 25th seemed to be a day that everyone was available, so we chose that and everyone came over. Our group really has fun with each other and sometimes I think it is a shame that we do not get together more often, but we all do have our own lives and it's hard to synchronize all the schedules, but I think that everyone agreed it was a fun thing to do and we all want to make it an annual event. Perhaps we can do it earlier in the summer before everyone gets so busy.
    In any case, I cleared out the toy side of the shop and figured we could all hang out there to view the DVD and if the weather did no cooperate, then all of the party could be held there. The weather was OK for most of the time and some of the boys hung out by the trucks for a while to shoot the breeze and Matt played in the sand with his son for a while, but it did start to rain towards the end of the evening, so I was glad we had a dry place to all hang out as well. There were a few things other had to do yesterday, so folks came and went, but everyone seemed to enjoy watching the DVD and I think we are all looking forward to capturing a lot more footage next season to be able to put together a really good one. I have a little snippet from the DVD for you. It is the final chapter of it, sort of the "farwell" for this DVD. Hope you all enjoy it.
   One other thing we decided to do was give our group a name. Not really sure if we want to call ourselves a "team" seem too serious, but most of us felt it would be neat to have a name to identify our group of riders, so I came up with "The Lumberjacks" as we seem to have an affinity for working in the trees. It seemed to resonate with all in our group, so that is what we came up with. I came up with a little logo for the group and then even had some hats made up and gave them to the guys at the premiere party. And if you are wondering what the heck the logo is (some have upon first sight), it is a snowmobile doing a wheelie. For the sake of keeping the logo clean, I did not draw in handlebars or a windshield. So now if you see that logo, you know you are in the presence of "The Lumberjacks" from the Keweenaw. 
Good night from the Keweenaw..

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July 19-
    Another Sunday and another beautiful day. However, the same cannot be said for the entire week. As has been the repeating case this summer, we had some cool temps and cloudy skies for a few days. Thursday and Friday were more like October around here than July and even yesterday was on the cool side, but today it is in the 70's and clear blue skies. The lack of any real heat so far this summer and a baby that looks to be coming even sooner than thought has prompted me to start draining the pool. Typically we will do this around the second week of August anyway as the nights start to get cooler and it just seems like we use the pool infrequently by the second half of August, so we usually take it down then. However, this year we have only had about 3 days where it was warm enough to really use it and other than a few days early this week, it looks like some more cool temps are coming in for the second half of this week and into the weekend and early next week and as I briefly mentioned, it looks like the baby will be here even sooner and once that happens the pool will not get any use.
    Speaking of the baby, we got some exciting news this week. We finally learned the gender of the baby and it's a girl. Nora and I have a name picked out, but I am going to hold off on telling you all until she arrives. The due date has been moved up and is now August 9th and the estimated weight of the little one is six pounds, eight ounces. So she is already pretty big. There has been talk of inducing labor a week early, so if that happens, she could be brought into this world in around a week! I am finishing up the piece of furniture that will help to store some of her stuff and we have the room pretty well set up for her, but man does she have the stuff already. We are very fortunate to have lots of great friends up here and we have had 2 showers thrown for the baby up here and one downstate where many of Nora's friends and family live and have a whole stockpile of baby gear. 
    It's funny, Nora and I were perfectly fine not knowing the gender of the baby, but now that we do know, it's exciting- especially for Nora. We have some clothes for the baby, but most of them were gender-neutral, so now Nora is all excited to get some dresses and girly clothes and I am on the lookout for a pink 120. Nora and I will be traveling to Texas when the baby is being born, so if you do not hear from me next week or at anytime, that is what is going on.
    In other news, the pups continue to recover nicely from their surgeries. We took them in on Monday to get their bandages changed and I was interested to see if they would have any anxiety at all about going back to the vet since the visit before was not as fun as others. Well, there was no trepidation whatsoever. They were their usual wound up, excited to see people pups that they always were. I'm glad because I did not want the vet to become something that they were scared about going to.
    We are now changing the dressing on their paws about every three days ourselves and things are healing up well there. Their incisions for the other surgery also look very good and we plan to take them in on Thursday to get the stitches out so that they can get back to their regular activities. We have been walking them on leashes on the pavement for about a week now and that has helped to relieve some of their pent up energy, but I really feel for them because I can see that they are just bursting at the seams to be able to cut loose. In fact they have cut loose briefly a few times when I had them out without their leashes on. They are pups with a lot of energy and I think that they will just need daily exercise for quite some time before they start to slow down, which is just fine by me. We love to take them places and watch them go.
    On Monday morning two dump trucks arrived with my gravel. They promptly dropped 40 tons of crushed mine rock in front of the cabin and then Monday evening I fired up the old John Deere and got to moving it around. It was my first time ever using a piece of equipment like that and I have to admit that it took me a while to gain the full handle on it. I could drive it around just fine and dump the rock in good fashion, but it took me probably 10 loads before I became proficient at scooping the rock into the bucket. To get the rock from the piles to the area that I was dumping it for the future wood shelter, I had to back up the whole way, going between the pool and shop and then missing the propane tank and several trees. On one trip, I backed all the way into place and then pulled forward to dump the rock and about five rocks fell out of the bucket! Nothing like having to maneuver the tractor around all those objects and then end up dropping less rock than I could have carried over in one hand! 
    However, like I say, I got the hang of filling the bucket with each scoop and soon had all the rock placed for the wood storage. I had ordered up a lot more than I thought I would need for that job and there was quite a bit left over, so I spread it on areas of the driveway that needed a bit more. The guy that initially put in the material for the driveway used only "pit run" rock, which is basically the raw mine rock from the pits. Some of the pieces were as big as beach balls, which does not make for the best material for a driveway. We got by all of this time and smaller pieces were put on top to fill in things, but it really needed this second coating of the small crushed mine rock to make it nice. When we are all done building here, we plan to have the driveway paved. All I can say is that the tractor and bucket sure made that work go quickly and smoothly and I am very grateful to friends like Troy for letting me borrow it and Matt for letting me borrow the trailer to transport it.
    Really not much else going on right now. I think both Nora and I are subconsciously trying to take it a little easy right now in an attempt to stockpile some energy for when the baby arrives. Nora will be off from work for twelve weeks so that will help a ton, but we are still going to be very busy with middle of the night feedings and diaper changes.
    My only last bit of news is that the dates for the snowmobile trail work session for the Keweenaw are October 23rd and 24th. Those are a Friday and Saturday, just like last year. Also like last year, the Pines in Copper Harbor and the Lac La Belle Lodge in LLB will both be offering up free lodging for those who come up to partake in the work session. We will also be furnishing lunch both days and dinner on Saturday. We got a ton of work done last year and had a lot of fun doing it too and I hope to see as many of you that can make it up here this year!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
July 12-
    Greetings! Boy, what a beautiful day, actually a beautiful weekend. My kind of summer weather. Temps in the low 70's, low humidity and those cobalt blue skies. Today I was working in the wood shop and it was like the shop was climate controlled. It's actually been a while since I have worked on a project in the wood shop and now I have three to try and get done before the baby arrives. Only one of them is for the baby and it is almost done already, so the other two are just pieces of furniture that I would like to get done before the little one is here. They are a hutch for the bathroom and a new desk for my office. It's nice to be working with wood again. I get so absorbed in the process that I lose track of time, it really is a nice escape, although I have found that since I moved up here I do not have much of a need to escape from my everyday life!
    The weather has been pretty nice all week. A bit on the cool side, especially early in the week, but more sun with the cold than we had the week before. We did hit 80 degrees both Thursday and Friday, but also made a new record low Wednesday morning with a low of 41. Like I say though, we have also had a lot of sunshine and as long as the sun is out, I do not mind the cooler temps. In fact, I prefer them. This is the second summer in a row that things have been nice and cool- more along the lines of what I expected when I moved up. Not the 90's and humidity that we had for my first three summers up here. Come to think of it, we have not had a really hot summer happen since Nora moved up here. We have had some warm periods, but not a summer that was just one heat wave after another like we had in 2000 and 20001.
    In my last entry I mentioned how I had come down with pneumonia. I have been feeling pretty good for most of the week and did go in to the Dr's office on Wednesday for a follow up and they said my chest x-ray looked better than the one taken on the 4th. On Monday it was a nice afternoon for a walk and Nora gets home earlier in the day during the summer, so the pups and I waited for her to get home and then took a walk in the woods. I think that's part of the reason why I like the cooler temps and lack of humidity so much is that the dogs are more comfortable and really have a good time exploring the woods when the weather is so comfortable for it. Monday was one of those days that the pups could explore the woods in totals comfort.
    Our explorations on Monday took us to a section of the Gratiot River where Huck and Millie wasted no time jumping in and exploring. They are pretty much fearless and Huck even jumped off a 4 foot bank into the creek. It worries me sometimes that they will be a little too fearless and end up getting hurt, but so far they have been injury free. The section of the river where we were at is very pretty and has a few small waterfalls at it. There is even a little pool at the bottom of one of the sets of falls. I feel so lucky to be able to have such places to visit up here. All of them also just exist in the woods. No signs pointing the way to them. No giant parking lots full of tourists. Just an old logging road winding it's way through the woods and then a two track branching off to the river and falls. I suppose that one day this could all change, but for now I am going to take advantage of all the beautiful spots we have to explore.
    The rest of the week has been pretty quiet. I did not want to overdo things and get sick again. It is also a pretty busy time with my regular work, so I have to attend to those duties. On Friday, the pups went in to get "fixed". I'm not sure why they call it getting fixed as nothing is broke in the first place. In fact, all is working well or on it's way to working well when we bring them in and if anything things are broke when they leave. However, with Huck and Mille being brother and sister and with us having no desire to breed them, it was always our intention to get them spade and neutered. We don't need any little banjo puppies running around here! Plus it is better for their health- it lowers the risks of some kinds of cancers for them. They also had some dew claws that needed to be removed. Millie had them on her two front legs and Huckie had them on all four wheels. They bandaged up their legs where the surgery took place and I think they purposely chose some styling colors to use for the bandages. Huck got red and Millie got powder blue. With the red bandages on all four of Huck's legs, he looked kind of like a thoroughbred racehorse
    They have been doing pretty good. Millie was really out of it on Friday, while Huck was pretty much rip roaring, ready to go. Millie was still a bit out of it Saturday morning, but did come around later in the day and today they both are back to their old selves, which is good and bad. Good because it is nice to see them back to having lots of energy and happy. Bad because we are suppose to keep them pretty quiet for 14 days! I think that the definition of quiet will be changing as we go through the next 14 days! The one thing we will stick to will be no swimming, but I think some small walks will start to happen once we are past the first week. They already show no signs of even having the operation, so it is just a matter of allowing them to slowly get back into the swing of exercise. Thankfully they are not too interested in messing with their incisions either. Nora did get two e-collars when she picked them up at the vet Friday, but we have not had to use them.
    So we will all be taking it pretty easy this week. I have a project to get to this week. This autumn I want to build a shelter for the firewood and I want to put a bed of gravel down first and then build the shelter so that the wood does not touch the ground and rot. I also want to spread some more gravel on our driveway to spruce it up a bit. So tomorrow I have 40 tons of crushed mine rock coming. Two years ago I got 6 tons delivered and moved it all by shoveling it into a cart that we can pull behind the ATV, but there is no way I am going to shovel 40 tons of rock! So I borrowed a trailer from Matt and then borrowed a tractor with a bucket from Troy at Lac La Belle and will be using the tractor and bucket to move and spread the rock. I also hope to finish up the first woodworking project and get rolling on the second this week. As long as the pups have to stick close to home and keep quiet, we may as well be productive!
   I guess that about covers it for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..

July 5-
    This is going to be a short one. I actually have quite a bit I could say, but as luck would have it, I came down with pneumonia! I have no idea how and up until Friday evening I had no symptoms of it, but then Friday night my lungs would fill up with fluid when ever I laid down. I was hoping it would go away with a diuretic I had left over from my bout with legionnaires disease, but it did not. So at 5 am on July 4th I drove down to the ER where they diagnosed me with pneumonia. I did notice the infection late yesterday and today, with a big loss of energy, but other than that, feel pretty good. So, this will be the condensed version of what otherwise would have been a pretty long one!
    I guess the first order of business is the XTX has been sold. It was kind of sad to see it go, but it will also be nice to have that financial cushion the sale provided. The adoption is getting very close and some pretty big bills will be due then. In fact there is talk that the baby may be induced early, which would bring it into this world around the first week of August! So it's becoming crunch time in getting ready for him/her.
    The other big story this past week was the weather. Boy the past 3 summers we could hardly buy a drop of rain and this summer we finally have been getting it on a regular basis. In fact, we had 6 days in a row when it rained. Last Saturday and Sunday were not total wash outs and the same happened this Thursday, but Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday it rained just about all day. On top of that, our highest temp from Monday through Thursday was only 54 degrees. It really felt like mid October around here rather than the end of June and beginning of July. We have a little above ground pool and it went from being 75 degrees over the weekend to 54 degrees by Thursday morning. The forecast was for temps to warm and the sun to come out this weekend, so I started heating it on Thursday and by Friday evening it was in the low 80's.
    The weather did follow the forecast for this weekend. Friday started out overcast, but by mid-morning the clouds were breaking up and by the afternoon we were in that beautiful cobalt blue skies the Keweenaw sees almost all summer long and have stayed that way through the weekend. The temps warmed too and we have hit the low 70's the past 2 days. Clear blue skies, low 70's and low humidity- my perfect summer weather.
    On Friday, Nora and I decided to take a little road trip. She had the day off and after I did some morning work, I had the rest of the day off, so we traveled south a bit. There is an area where a lot of lakes dot the landscape. The Twin Lakes of Roland and Gerald are probably the two most notable, but others like Emily, Sandy, Pike and Clear also make up some very beautiful inland lakes. The thought was to take the pups down to Clear Lake to let them swim and then hit a strawberry field in Nisula to pick up some berries for the weekend.
    So that is exactly what we did. Clear Lake is one of the smaller lakes down that way, but as it's name depicts, it is pretty much crystal clear and very deep. There is a little public boat launch at one end and that is where I have gone to let Burt and Baileys swim in the past and where we went Friday. The pups had fun fetching a stick and Huck even did a few launches from the shore. A couple of loons were floating on the water while we were there and every once in a while would let out their unmistakable cry. We did swing south to Nisula to pick up some strawberries. Pretty impressive that they were even ripe with the cool summer we have had so far. Nora and I picked up 4 quarts and have been forcing them down in such things like strawberry shortcake all weekend! Fresh fruit, especially berries, are one of the things I really love about summer.
    Stuck pretty close to home yesterday as I was pretty tired from not sleeping all night Friday night. Nora and I floated in the pool for a while and she took the pups for a couple of walks.
    Today I was feeling better (funny what 12 hours of sleep will do), so after I finished up some of my Sunday work, we hopped in the Blazer and took them to the beach. It was a perfect day to be there, with clear blue skies, temps in the 70's and a nice breeze. It also did not hurt that we went to one of my favorite beaches. You know, that one I am not telling anyone about! The pups had a blast playing on the beach and we even got into a little rhythm by tossing the stick for Huck out into the lake and tossing a tennis ball down the shoreline for Millie. Even got to just hang out with the kids on the beach for a while. It would have been a perfect 10 except for one fly in the ointment and that was the horseflies. They were not a major problem, but were out and mainly bothered Huck. That was a picture of one that got swatted and was taking a permanent nap on the beach. We swatted a few more through our hours stay at the beach today. They must travel in packs, because we would be fly free for a few minutes and then there are 4 buzzing around Huck and the rest of us. They have their season too and in a few weeks will not be much of an issue at all. Plus they are not bad enough to keep us from going to the beach in the first place.
    Well, I think that about covers it for this one. I need to finish some more of my Sunday work and then head off to bed.
Good night from the Keweenaw..


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