Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tick Tock. Tick Tock

Any time now. Officially, Tuesday July 1st is the due date. My bag is packed. Still in Dillingham working on the house. When things start happening I'm off to the airport looking for the next plane.

My family has been gone almost a month. As excited as I am to greet the new baby, I'm just as anxious to wrap my arms around all of of them again.

Here's Alethia, Jake, and their cousin Hanna at the Alaska Zoo. The kids got out with their uncle and grandma while Jo took a nap.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Catching Up

As stated in previous blogs, the Belleques are in the midst of a very busy summer. Here are a few pictures to help tell the story.

Alethia at her Head Start Graduation. She graduated a few days before they left for Anchorage.

Kyle, Jake, and Alethia at the airport when the were leaving for Anchorage.

Alethia at H2Oasis (an indoor water park in Achorage).
Jake, Alethia, and their friend Anika. They've known Anika for a long time. Her family recently moved back to Anchorage.

Jake and his Nana Shelley (Jo's sister Michelle). Jake wasn't so sure about all the comotion at H2Oasis so he sat with his Nana for a while. Once he gave it a try he really got into it. Shelley is with child right now too. Her and Jo always seem to get pregnant at the same time.
Our new house. Well, part of our new house anyway. Here the deck is complete. The top deck is 20'x24' and each lower deck is 8'x24'. So over all it's 36'x24', but that includes a 6'x8' covered deck and 18'x8' arctic entry (we have lots of gear and need the space!). The ridge will run parallel to the lower decks. That way the house can continue growing along the ridge line keeping everything under one roof. We start framing tomorrow.

Here's Dad working hard two boards at at time. Dad consitutes my crew. I get other help here and there but he's my main man. He's holding up pretty well for a fella born well before the Korean Conflict.

Of course you notice what's missing. My wife. Johanna is always the one taking the pictures. She says the baby will wait for its due date, but I'm ready to fly in at any time. Until then, I'm busy making hay while the sun shines.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Next Generation

Building our new house and welcoming our new baby are by far our biggest topics of dicussion lately. The house is getting a slow start, very typical. The site is prepped and posts for foundation should be set mid-week allowing us to start the deck next weekend. Hoping to have it shelled in before going to Anchorage for the birth. It's a small house so it's within reason. Just depends on how cleanly things come together. Johanna and the kids are doing well in Anchorage. Johanna had her first appointment in Anchorage Friday, everything was fine, they'll continue on a weekly basis until the baby comes.

Even with so much going on, I'm still a dog musher. Anyone who spends time around me knows that my dog team is never far from my mind. They give me something peaceful to think about. We've had a couple of exciting new progressions on that front. I've mentioned that Lucky is in Two Rivers with Swanny and his fine leader Torus. In an interesting course of events, three dogs are coming down from Kotzebue to join Nushagak Kennels (I'll write more about that on another post). And finally, my dear Lucy and the noble Bing are in the process of creating their own litter of pups.

They had their first successful tie last night. They'll have a few more days to breed. Lucy is two, Bing four, and they're both incredibly healthy so I expect a healthy litter of pups mid-August. I've never been more excited about a litter of pups. Both dogs bring a special set of physical and mental abilities.

You can see a picture of Lucy at the following link - . She's a very hard and enthusuastic worker. This will be her first litter, but she loves puppies and other dogs so I think she'll do well. She does get nervous with new situations and I'm planning to monitor her birth closely. Although she is only 62 pounds, she comes from a line of 75 pound working dogs. Combining her with Bing should get me the 70 pound dogs I like so much.

Pictures, and a description, of Bing can be found here. Wrote a post about Luke (Bing's brother) entitled, The Best Sled Dog I Own. Turns out I was wrong, Bing is the best sled dog I own. Not to detract from Luke's ability as a sled dog. Under most trail conditions, he'll gladly lead a team on a 70 mile run. He'll even do it pretty fast if the trail allows. What I learned is that Luke does well when it's fun. As soon as things became difficult (lots of water, becoming tired, doubt) he didn't want to lead. He would gladly run in swing or the team working hard and pushing forward. Bing on the other hand excelled in tough situations. The worse it gets the better he likes it. One of the trails we trained on for a few runs had a creek going across it. It was a shallow 8 foot wide stream. Luke didn't want to deal with it and would try find a way around it. Bing would smell the water when approaching it and with the last 15 yards, burst into a full gallop brining the entire team to top speed and then leap into the air trying to jump the entire distance. The rest of the team would follow suit. Bing is a big strong dog, but very shy, reserved, even dignified. He's been in contact with Lucy for a few weeks, but didn't harrass and try to mount her until she was ready. He continued checking her, but did not chase her about like most dogs. When she was ready, he knew it was time. I respect Bing's quiet strength and confidence. He knows with absolute certainty there is nothing he can't handle, no circumstance he can't dominate. He knows he is the toughest dog alive, but never brags about it. I'd like a few more dogs like that.