Hard to complain.

Bon Hivar! We made it! December is here! This really has to be the most exciting time of the year for me. As a kid it sure was. The promise of snow and of course the promise of Santa to come at the end of the month. I suppose I may have gone through a period in my life where it was not as exciting, but my love of snow has not dwindled at all since being a child and the replacement with getting as a kid and giving as an adult are a perfect offset.

Its been a rather uneventful week, so I am not sure how long I will be rambling on today, but we’ll see. It was also a quieter, more relaxed week, as Bleau has been off at obedience class. I have to admit that when he first went away, I did not miss him too much. As cute and loving as he was, he really was equally a handful. Extremely stubborn and also a bit sneaky. Please do not mistake this to mean he was bad. He never did anything to intentionally cause grief. It was more that we just did not know how to fully communicate with him. That is why I was so excited for him to go off to class. Not to get him out of the house, but so that a professional could figure out all the buttons to push. Establish that communication link fully and then let us in on it!

The trainer has sent us fairly regular updates, either via pictures and a note or via video. After just two days of being there, the video we received was incredible! All the commands she was giving, he was doing without hesitation. Probably the greatest thing to see was that the whole time, his eyes were planted on her and his tail was wagging like crazy, which told me he was giving her his full attention, but not out of fear or a negative consequence, but because he was happy and because he felt like he was doing right. I have seen him do some pretty cool things before we sent him off to class and knew the potential he had, I just did not know how to bring it out and the instructor sure has.

The only bad news is that I do miss him now and wish that he could come home to us everyday after class, but we live 4 hours away from where the training center is and he still has two more weeks to go. I am sure that we ALL will be very excited to have him back home, I just hope that he has not had TOO much fun and does not want to leave! There are rumors of a welcome home party being thrown for him once he gets back!

So with Bleau gone and just the pups and I around the house all day, I finally managed to find some time to get into the woodshop and resume the project that I started back at the beginning of this summer! It is still not done yet, I probably have around 2 more hours of construction and then a few hours of finishing and it will be making the trip from the shop to our house. It was nice to be able to get into the shop for a while. I keep the temp inside the shop at around 45 when I am not working, but then bump it up to around 55 when I am in there working. To help bump the temps, last year I bought a wood burning stove. It was the first one I have ever owned and used and I was a bit surprised at the fact that there was a bit of a learning curve with it. I have a lot of experience in building a fire and keeping it going, but the first few attempts did not produce favorable results. I did have to tweek the chimney to let it draft better, but still had some struggles. Finally, I learned the proper way to get it going and keep it going at a decent clip. So now the pups and I can work in comfort in around 30 minutes of getting in there and getting the heat and stove going.

The rest of the week is pretty much a blur. It was busy, but not with anything outstanding or newsworthy. Grace has a lot going on this time of the year and it keeps Nora and I on our toes. Thankfully all of her activities are local, so we do not find ourselves heading out of town 2-3 weekends out of each month like those with kids in hockey do. At any rate, Friday came and there were two big events going on at Tech. The hockey team was playing Bemidji State, a rival in their conference and also a strong match up for them this season. At the other end of campus a ballet was being done. The Minneapolis Ballet Company paired up with a local dance company and the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra to put it on.

Hockey game…Ballet? A no brainer right? So how is it that I found myself getting out of the car in the Rozsa Center and walking towards it with Nora and Grace Friday night to see the ballet? Truth be told, I asked if I could go with them! They had decided to go to the performance back several months ago and when I got wind of their plans, I asked if I could go. I think Nora was way more surprised than Gracie, but I genuinely wanted to go and see it with them. It is not too often that we get big-league performers up here and I had never been to the Rozsa Center for a performance, so I was looking forward to it. Grace even had a few friends in it, as they took some local dancers from the local dance company.

I have to admit that the first half of the ballet really blew me out of the water. I knew that the dancers are highly athletic and can do some amazing things, but I did not know that there was also a lot of acting involved. No words are spoken during the entire ballet, but through body gestures, the audience can easily understand what any words being spoken would be. I was also surprised at how many different things were going on at one time. The opening scene had probably 25 dancers in it and each seemed to be involved in a different activity and none of the activities seemed to be the main one to watch. So my eyes jumped from one spot on the stage to the next and just enjoyed all that was going on.

The only downside to the event was that the folks that run the HVAC at the Rozsa must have thought it was a Finnish adaptation of the Nutcracker, meaning it was half ballet and half sauna! The air was quite warm and stuffy before the 1000+ persons filled the room and only got worse as time went on. At the intermission, I did not only leave the theater, but the entire building and stood outside to chill down. Because of the temperature in the room, I began to lose interest in the ballet about halfway through the second act, but it was not the ballet’s fault. I think even a concert would have been the same way. So I missed a great hockey game, but had a great time with my family at something I would not usually choose to go to.

The weather was rather unremarkable this past week. We actually did get snow almost every day, with the exception of Friday and Saturday. Not a lot of snow, an inch or so every day, but it did keep things looking fresh and did not need to be moved. It was actually fun for me to see other places get the snow in the past week. First areas like northern IL, southern WI and southern lower MI early in the week and then MN, northern IA, northern WI, the central and eastern UP and far northern lower MI the past day or two. I can even say that I was not jealous at all. I know full and well that we will get our turn with the snow, probably many time this winter, and have already had some good dances with it and it is only December 2nd.

There is not yet enough on the ground to justify riding up here. We have a fairly decent beginning to a base, but probably need 6-12″ of dense snow to have enough on the ground to start grooming. Perhaps a bit less to pan, but panning is just to pack it in and does not really make for the kind of smooth trail most are accustomed to. I am not worried about things at all, as it looks like we will not lose any snow this week and some lake effect the second half of the week could get us very close to being able to ride in it.

The ski hills that make snow have been opening up, mainly due to all the cold and snow they can make. Cross country ski trails are in pretty decent shape for early season and the snow depth is still low enough that we can get through the woods on foot, without the aid of snowshoes. With the ending of the main firearm deer hunting season Friday night, we took to the woods on Saturday for a walk. The pups had a blast running around and doing all the things a Labrador retriever does when out in the snowy woods. I was joined by Grace and my brother and we all had fun trouncing through the snow and checking out the critter tracks in the snow. For those of you up to a challenge, look for Grace in that last picture. She is there, although a bit hidden from the trees. You cannot see her entire body, but the winter hat she was wearing and a few hints of her snowsuit can be seen. Good luck!

So I think that about covers it for this one. I hope everyone has a wonderful week and talk to you in 7!

Good night from the Keweenaw..