Rural Life in the UP of Michigan Some stories about life on 160 rural acres in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

January 19, 2012

A 3-Way by the Freeway

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Many thanks to friends Ryan and Melissa for this photo. You can bet that a future trip through northern Minnesota will include a stop at this rest area in the dark with a (hopefully) full bladder, or at the very least, a couple of the large cans of Red Bull.

January 13, 2012

Travelling Pee

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Only one other time have I delved into bodily functions to the degree I’m about to in this post. As before, I want to warn the squeamish among you that the word “urinate” may pop up in this post, so be prepared to avert your eyes if such things seem offensive to you.

Franco and I walk after supper just about every night. When one gets into such a habit, I’ve found that little sub-habits can develop. I should explain that I’m attracted to relieving myself outside as long as sufficient privacy can be obtained, which is seldom much of a problem among our rural acres. I like the idea of saving the water and the electricity needed to move it from the depths of our well to the toilet bowl inside the house.

Our road crosses a lovely little year-round creek, which we call “The Watson Creek” — get it? Anyway, I’ve been up and down the property enough here abouts that I know exactly where this little creek goes. From our road, it travels south for about 1/8 mile, then turns east and flows into the Otter River about a mile away. The Otter flows into Otter Lake, the overflow of which spills into the Sturgeon River, which meanders down to Portage Lake, which is actually part of Lake Superior.

While on a backpacking trip some years ago, our trail went up and over the Continental Divide. Being all guys on the hike. Many if not most of us took the time to urinate on both slopes of the divide. Science told us that water on one side of the divide traveled to the Atlantic Ocean, while that on the other side traveled to the Pacific Ocean. I wondered then as I wonder to this day what there is about guys and the incentive they have to mingle their water with the waters of the world’s major oceans. I still don’t understand it… we must just be hard wired.

Back to the walk after supper last night. As I often do, I stood above the culvert that the Watson Creek uses to traverse our road about 4′ below the road level, and did my job over the edge. Will some of “my” water molecules make the trip to Lake Superior, and thence out to the Atlantic Ocean? It is hard to say whether it will happen or not in my lifetime, but I like to think I set a journey in motion.

January 5, 2012

Franco the Wanderer

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When Franco was just a puppy, we used a leash whenever we walked him. Early on, I sensed I could trust him off leash, and tentatively tried it. He came when called, even when he was very interested in whatever he was pursuing. As the years went by, I trusted him more and more, to the point that I could daydream on our after-supper hikes, and not worry too much if I didn’t see him right away when I looked up.

About a month and a half ago, things changed. Two days in a row, Franco took off and did not come when called. Both times he was gone for 15 or 20 minutes, during which time I called until I was almost hoarse. Mind you this only happened twice, but in 15 minutes, that dog can cover a tremendous amount of ground, and he has no smarts when it comes to 55 MPH blacktop only 1/2 mile from our house.

After the two “walk-abouts” I kept him on a leash for the next several walks we did, and also asked him to walk very close to me. Whether that was what did the trick, I’ll probably never know. But since then, he’s been off leash again, and has never disappeared again, until yesterday.

It was cold and blustery, and I needed to walk out to the garage to get something. I was wearing my usual hooded sweatshirt and slippers, so just popped out the door along with the dog, went quickly into the garage for what ever I needed, and headed back toward the house. I called over my shoulder for Franco to hurry up because I was cold, but he didn’t come. I stood where I was and called several more times, each call more insistent than the last. No dog.

I walked across the snow with my slippers to the road and looked up and down. No dog. I called and called. No dog. By this time, my heart rate was going up. In just a few minutes he can be a long distance away, and if it is windy, he may not be able to hear me for long. I called up and down the road and looked carefully. You guessed it… no dog.

I then walked back toward the house with the intent of getting my coat, boots and gloves on because I was cold. As I was heading for the house, an idea struck me that made me stop cold. I literally stopped and stood there in the snow. Sometimes he follows me into the garage, and if I’m not paying attention, he gets stuck in there when I close the door. I walked to the garage door and called his name softly. He walked out and gave me the I-would-have-come-if-I’d-have-had-an-opposable-thumb look. I was very happy to see him, and to know that he hadn’t taken off on me. He got a treat when he came inside.

January 1, 2012

New Year

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While on my after-supper-backpack-walk tonight, I got thinking about the year that just expired. A lot of neat things and frustrating things happened, but one thing is for sure… the year 2011 flew by.

The event I’ve laughed about over and over this year is the little boy I stopped from running away at Disneyland in Los Angeles. You can read the story HERE. The funniest part of the whole thing was the look on this little guy’s dad’s face. He was so relieved and surprised at the same time that to this day I break out in a big grin when I think about it.

I’m pretty happy with my physical condition at this time of year. It often seems that when winter sets in I stay inside more and eat more, making my waistline expand. This year since I’ve increased the daily situps to 200, maintained my pushups, and kept up with my daily 60# backpack hikes, that the handful of fat I’ve been able to grab other years is more like a pinch. The Grand Canyon hike is planned for March 1 this year, which is one reason why I started conditioning earlier. I often wonder why I let myself get out of shape, because it feels so good to be in shape.

I’ve also felt a lot of satisfaction from the work I’ve been doing at the volunteer fire department. This year besides the fire and first responder calls, I took the lead in doing some remodeling at the firehall. We have six windows in the “barn” section of the hall, where the trucks park. These were not high quality windows when they were put in so many years ago, and they really deteriorated over the years. Several were broken from being hit by basketballs and other projectiles. The windows were so cheap that the panels couldn’t be removed to replace the glass. Besides the obsolete windows, the spray on insulation on the bottom 6′ of the barn was in very bad shape.

So I made a presentation to the township to give us the money to fix it up, and they said yes. I ordered the windows and lumber and went to work. The first 4 windows I put in myself with the help of one other guy on one day. For the last two, I organized a work day during which we got them both installed, as well as some prep work for our annual fundraiser picnic, and some work on one of the trucks. Once the windows were in, I contacted the low bidder for the spray-on insulation job, and they came and got that part done. I have to admit I feel pretty good now every time I walk in there. I hope our heating bills are lower this winter too.

Probably because of all the extra-curricular stuff this summer, my firewood project was delayed until August. I remember feeling pretty frustrated it was taking so long. One other reason for the delay was I had to rebuild the stud walls that hold the firewood under the lean-to attached to the garage. There was some firewood in there already, which meant I had to move it around in order to do the work. This time I built it much sturdier. The previous walls lasted probably 15 years, so these should last as long as we’ll need them.

That’s the year in review. There are lots of projects planned for 2012, and I’ll do my best to keep this blog up to date as things develop. Best to you all in 2012.

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