9 years and around 23 hours ago, my life changed forever. A little girl was born in Denton TX and I became her father. When I think back to the events of that time frame, some are a total blur, like watching a movie in fast motion. Yet others are a vivid as they happened yesterday. One of the moments that remains vivid is the first time I saw that beautiful and innocent face. That picture speaks many words, especially when it comes to the expression on Nora and my faces. It is perfectly clear what is going on in Nora’s beautiful mind by the look on her beautiful face. Mine? Well…honestly, it looks like I might have just messed my pants or were about to pass out, or both! I will also accept the answer from those that say I look scared.

Over the past 9 years, I have loved looking at that shot and enjoyed everyone’s different response to it, including their description of my face. The cool thing is that for the past 9 years, I have not corrected anyone, at least not harshly! However, I have never really said what was going through my mind at the time. Not because I was embarrassed or anything negative like that, just that I felt like I wanted to keep it private. Even though she was about 2 hours old at the time, I have always believed Gracie knew exactly what I was thinking. She opened her eyes, looked straight into my eyes and then slowly closed hers again, all the while still looking into my eyes…As if to tell me that all was good.

We can read all the books we want, take classes, talk to friends and family, even do some practicing, but there is NOTHING that will fully prepare someone to become a parent. It is single-handedly the most important task we will ever be given in life, but yet there are no instructions…at least complete instructions. The loving part comes easy, except when it comes time for hard love. “Having to tell your daughter something that will break her heart”.   Lets see….nothing in the Table of Contents…nothing in the index…Sorry you are on your own there pal. Good luck!

Or what about that fine line between just making her happy, and spoiling her? With a child as sweet and loving as Gracie, that line tends to be extra, extra thin and is also always moving. That is why I have been blessed with a wonderful partner in the role of raising Grace. There are times when the line to cross or not to cross is extremely thin for both of us, but at those times, we know we have each others support. We also know we are going to make mistakes along the way and when we do, we are sure to let Grace know it.

Grace has her challenging moments too and I am getting better at recognizing when Nora needs me to stand by her and support her. I still have a considerable amount of improvement to do on that, but am moving in the right direction! Nora? she is getting better at not worrying about every little thing that could go wrong, or needs to be taken care of. Nora is extremely intelligent in the ways of the world and can see potential problems long before the rest of us common folk can. So I have learned to trust her intuition. Well….most of the time. That is a work in progress as well!

So here we are, 1/2 of the way between her sitting on my lap for the first time and the age in which Gracie becomes what our society considers an adult. She may very well stick around here and go on to further her studies, but there is no avoiding the fact that even those “kids” have begun to spread their wings and will soon be off on their own in the world. Pretty amazing to think about, but also a bit sad.

It’s been an interesting week in the weather department! We have had everything from chilly enough to think about turning the heat on and hot/humid enough to need to put the air conditioning on. Friday morning was quite chilly out, with an early morning low of 42. The changing of color in the not so healthy trees has also begun right on time this year. That is from a tree in our woods, but along the side of the road. The other 98 percent of the trees are still a deep summer green and will be that way for another 6-7 weeks, but those “early turners” do signal that we have made it into August and are getting closer to the end of summer!

The Keweenaw got great news on Friday morning. That being the help requested from FEMA was approved and the region will be receiving grants to repair the rest of the damage from the Father’s Day Flood. That is also good for our trail system, as it means all of the damage done will now be able to be done as soon as possible. Because of that, I went up to the site of some of the bigger washouts to do some looking around and figuring out what might be suggested to the DNR as “priority fixes”.  I still highly doubt that the trail from Dollar Bay to Lake Linden will be open for this year, but I would really like to see folks be able to get to the turn-off for Lake Linden via the trail from Calumet to Lake Linden. As it stands right now, there is no trail that will directly take snowmobilers from the trail to town. They would have to ride some sections of road. The trail from Lake Linden to Gay will be open, but that still leaves folks several blocks from downtown Lake Linden.

So my main goal Friday afternoon was to go and see how much work would need to be done to have the Calumet to Lake Linden trail open to the point where the access trail to Lake Linden is. It did not take me long to realize that it was going to be more work than I had thought. There were a few washouts where I had been told by some that there were none and then there were a couple of doozies like this. Just for a size reference, the black dot on the left-center of the picture is Huck and the white dot on the right-center part of the picture is Millie.

It’s hard to say when all the differing things that need to be repaired will be done, but it is nice to know that the money will be there to allow it to happen as soon as the engineering, material, permits and anything else needed is obtained. It will also be a nice little jolt of money into our local economy up here. So stay tuned!

Gracie’s birthday was yesterday, but we surprised her with a horseback ride on Thursday as part of her birthday celebration. It was a long haul from Keweenaw County to the Alston area, but well worth the trip. Grace was so pumped up for it, I think she could have run along side Nora vehicle the whole way and still made the final dash to beat us! I was a little worried that she might get a little over confident on the horse and not listen to all she was told to do, but I was proven wrong. She was confident, but also very attentive and followed exactly what the instructor/guide told her.

Before long, she was all set and ready to mount-up! She swung the right leg over and was all set to ride! Both Nora and I thought that she would take to horses very well and she sure did. The guide had us all ride around in the corral for a bit to get used to handing the horse and for the horse to get acquainted to what kind of a hack they had on their back! At first Gracie was matched up with Tilley, because she was the most laid back and well mannered of the bunch, while Nora got a pretty spunky horse. After some time in the corral, it was determined that Grace would probably enjoy the spunk of the horse Nora was on and Nora would enjoy the more laid back attitude of Tilley. So they switched and Grace did a great job of keeping a horse that really wanted to go from doing what it was not suppose to do.

Soon we were out of the corral and riding down the trails around the area. For a little while, we were even on snowmobile trail 109, as we passed several trail signs for the snowmobiles. We all had a blast and it was especially fun to be doing it as a full family, but also just us three. Nora and Tilley were best of friends by the end of the ride! We all agreed that we were going to do all we can to get back on the horses before the weather turns and there are even thoughts being tossed around of getting involved with horses. So much fun to have…so little time!

Good night from the Keweenaw..