Just add Winter

Poof! Just like magic, winter is here. Nearly in the blink of an eye, we went from the brown of late autumn to the white of winter. It was not a surprise. Winter storm warnings were hoisted by the NWS-Marquette and it was the talk of the town the second half of last week, but Mother Nature had the final say and delivered.

It was actually strongly hinted at late the previous week and by early last week, things were looking quite favorable for enough snow to move around. So I did not mess around and got busy putting the blower on Big Red Monday. Its always an interesting event. It is fairly easy and straight forward, but because I only do it once every year, I have not really been able to get myself into a groove or remember ALL the tricks. I have been leaving myself notes each time something important is learned, but it seems like there are more things to be learned every time I go about the task. I was thankful that the weather was quite agreeable to do it and while it took some time, it was not particularly rigorous. The hydraulics of the tractor do all the heavy lifting, all I really need to do is get everything aligned and then finesse them into place. In any case, success was met and I did breathe a sigh of relief when I gave the auger and impeller a test run.

The need for it came a few days later. Not with the coating of snow we got Wednesday night and Thursday, but with the storm Friday night. The Wed night/Thursday event was just the warming up snow. Enough to coat the ground and give the pups something to play in. It was also enough that Gracie and I could have a snowball fight. Not the first of the season, but a good one. As things settled down and we both stood where the pool sits, we found it interesting that just two months prior, we had been swimming in the same exact spot!

Friday night’s storm was the real deal. I know first hand, because I had to drive home from the Fish Fry Fundraiser at Lac La Belle in it. It was probably the second worst conditions I have ever driven in up here and the third worst in my life. The worst is actually a tie between a return trip on Christmas evening back in 2001 and a a trip up from Denver to Laramie the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 1984. In both of those drives, I got into a situation where I knew I did not belong on the road anymore, but it would have been worse for me to turn around, so I pressed on and made it both times!

Friday night’s drive found me in heavy snow, with winds of 56 mph. Visibility was about two automobile lengths in front of me and what is typically a 25 minute drive took me over an hour to get home. I also made it home safe and sound Friday night and never really thought that I did not belong on the road at all, but wished I had been on my snowmobile, rather than my truck! I do want to thank those that came out and braved the elements to attend the fish fry. Two special shout-outs need to be made. One to a family that came all the way from Illinois. It was part of a weekend trip to the area, but they still braved slick roads all the way from northern IL to get here. The second is to Mike Sabo and his wife Christine, who made the trip from Twin Lakes. Mike is the president of the Superior Snowmobile Club and fully understands the importance of a club fundraiser, but we certainly went the extra mile to drive through that mess all the way from Twin Lakes to Lac La Belle and back. They are having a fundraiser for their club December 1st and I will for sure be there to pay it back!

By the time things settled down Saturday morning, we had picked up around 13″ of new snow, but just up the highway from me (in the very spot I had been driving the night before) they picked up 18″ of fresh. The winner out of the storm was Gile, just to the SW of Ironwood/Hurley. They picked up 20″ of fresh snow out of the event. It was mostly a lake effect or lake enhanced snow. There were some really cool radar signatures in the snow as well. Several meso-lows could be seen out over Lake Superior and then drifted inland. The biggest meso low was responsible for the big totals in the Ironwood/Hurley area.

Gracie has been extra excited for the snow to come this season. I may or may not have had an influence on that, but none the less, she was very happy to see all the snow fall and we spent a good deal of Saturday playing in the new snow. I did have to fire up Big Red and moved the snow off of my neighbors driveway and then ours. For ours, it was more “back blowing”, meaning I did not drive forward and blow the snow, but rather drove backwards to scrape off the majority of the snow, but leave enough behind to create a “mat”. I am not sure if this will be the mat that sticks around for the entire winter, but I sure hope so!

The entire Dee clan took to the woods Saturday morning after I was done moving snow and enjoyed the splendor of the flocked trees and quietness of the woods in winter. The pups also had their fun in the snow. Huck and Millie are slowing down, especially while in the house and it is in that environment that I can see that they are aging. Yet, get them out into the woods and watch them run around for 30 minutes straight and I am also provided with the info that they are still in pretty good shape and their joints must not be in too bad of shape.

Bleau does hit best to try and keep up with him, but despite his best efforts, typically lags a few steps behind them. I will say that he has grown by leaps and bounds since Nora first brought him home. When he first arrived, he could literally walk underneath both Huck and Millie without even having to lower his head. He now stands just a few inches short of Millie and I suspect that by around the new year, he will rival her in size. I have a feeling that he will end up being larger than both of them, at least in height.

There have been some great things happening with regards to him. A few days after he got here, he started having problems holding his pee. We knew he was just a pup and to pee in the house was pretty normal. However, we would have him out, he would go and then come in and 2 minutes later go again. That was happening with a lot of frequency, so we took him to the vet and they determined the poor little guy had a urinary tract infection. The first round of antibiotics did not solve the problem, so they put him on second and different dose. That did not help either and while at his exam last Tuesday, it was decided to pull him off of all antibiotics, let his system become clear of them and then do more extensive tests next week to get to the bottom of things.

Nora did some research in hopes that there might be some kind of homeopathic things that we could try and help ease things, or at least not let them get too much more worse for the guy. She learned that things like blueberries, vinegar, vitamin C and cranberries all can help with UTI’s in dogs. So I picked up some frozen blueberries and we started putting them in his food right away. By Thursday, it was clear that something had changed. Nora did not have to get up in the middle of the night to let him out and I did not have to let him out every 30 minutes during the day. He did not have any accidents either and since last Thursday has only had one. So we will be letting the vet know for sure, so they can test to see if the UTI is gone before having to put him through all the tests they have planned for him. It sure is great for all of us to have him like this. It was a lot of work for us to let him out and/or clean up his accidents and we all felt really bad for him with that condition and once we learned he was sick, we never scolded him for messing the house, even if he did it right in front of us.

It is so great to have the little guy free from his issues. He is still very stubborn, but also very smart. He picks up on things almost immediately and even learns a lot of things on his own. We are working on him with commands, but he was suppose to go to round one of training yesterday for 3 weeks. That has been put off until the Sunday after Thanksgiving and now we are thinking that he may only need a week and a half for this first round. We’ll see, but he learning to be a good dog, despite our attempts to corrupt him! He is also just as sweet as his little face says he is. He is going to do some wonderful things with the kids at the Calumet Schools. Gracie is even training him to be a good listener while she reads to him.

Saturday afternoon, Gracie and Nora headed down to the Rozsa Center at MI Tech to take in the play of Pinocchio. They met up with friends and all enjoyed the play. After the play, all in attendance were able to meet the cast of the play and even make some puppets with them. It really is neat to be able to live in such a small-town setting, yet have so many things for all of us to do. There seems to be something going on every weekend, if not just about every night.

So I guess that about covers it for this one. A bit of snow loss is seen for this Thursday, but a bit of fresh is likely the rest of today into tonight and tomorrow and then more for Friday and the weekend. Looks like it will be a white-opener for firearm deer season. Good luck hunters!

Good night from the Keweenaw..