A View From the Field








Journal May 2001

May 27

This morning I cooked for the first time in my new kitchen.  It was interesting.  The bacon was overcooked, the coffee pot plug is flaky, so that I almost didn't get any coffee, and I had to eat at the counter because there was no place to set up the card table in the dining area, but it was my first home-cooked meal.  I celebrated by spending the rest of the morning embroidering.


While I was eating, I saw something large and light-colored fly into a tree across the bay, so I got the binoculars and discovered I was looking at a full-grown bald eagle sitting in the top of a pine tree.  He (or she) sat there for a long time.  Then I looked down and right off my beach there were a pair of Canada geese with two (that I saw) of the littlest, downiest goslings I have ever seen.  They can't have been out of the egg for very long.  I think perhaps there actually are four, because as I was eating dinner tonight (at Harbor Haus), a family swam by.  I wanted to tell them to be very alert - I'm sure that eagle would eat gosling if one happened by!


While I was embroidering, the sky cleared up and the sun came out and it was beautiful, though chilly - under 50.  I finally got back to my unpacking and putting away, and when I looked up, the entire harbor was full of fog!  The fog didn't blow away until I was eating dinner, and it's still hazy down the harbor.  It's really nice to see the wind out of the west, though.  It's been steadily east and south-east for most of the week, which meant wet and cloudy.  Maybe that strange low that's been over Lake Michigan has finally moved away.  It's nice to see the sun.


When I came back from dinner, I packed up all the paper and boxes and put what can be burned outside the back door.  Maybe the next time I have workmen, I can convince them to light it for me, since I guess to be really legal, I would need a burn permit, and I guess the construction people can burn any time they want to.  I certainly am not going to take all that paper to the dumpster!


I sat in my easy chair (much more comfortable than the one at Champine) and set up the card table, so I will be able to eat at a real table on a real chair.  It will be a while, I'm afraid, before I have anything more formal.


There are a bunch of full boxes to go down the basement (stuff I brought but don't want to unpack) and more stuff to unpack so that I can set up my living area properly, but it feels really good to get the kitchen stuff put together.


Now I can go and have another good night's sleep.  I'm afraid not much unpacking will get done tomorrow, because I have to go to town Tuesday to see the bank, the people about a closet system, and all the stores I can manage to hit, and I have some preparation to do.


It is beginning to feel like I'm living in a house, rather than camping out, even though the bedroom is full of bags of clothes and I'm living out of them and suitcases.  One of these days all that will be taken care of.


May 26

Slowly - very slowly - the house is coming together.  I think I will be able to prepare breakfast tomorrow morning.  I still have half a dozen kitchen boxes to unpack, but the dishes, silverware, kitchen utensils and pans are in place. That will be another adventure.


I probably could have done breakfast this morning, but I decided I wanted pancakes, so I went down to the Pines.  It was a mistake.  About the time I decided to move and shake a few things, I got a real sugar low, and it took 45 minutes after I ate something for me to get over feeling shaky.  That set me back a ways, because I started playing games and played longer than I should have.  My long sleep of last night clearly hasn't gotten me fully recovered.


It has been good weather to work inside.  It poured rain and was extremely foggy last night, and it was raw and cold this morning.  But that's been a problem, too: I have been so stiff and sore I could hardly move.  It has gotten a  little warmer, partly sunny, and I've been moving around, so things are better now.  Another good night's sleep and I should be fine.  It will be better when I have my setback thermostats, and I can figure out what temperatures to set them.


The shower enclosure was installed yesterday, so I got to take a real bath last night.  I could aim the shower at the middle of the shower without splashing outside, and the door prevented it from being drafty.  


The mirrors were also installed yesterday, and I realized it had been three or four days since I'd look at myself.  The mirrors are really nice and now the only things to do in the bathroom are to mount the towel bars and put stuff in drawers. The towel bars will be ordered, and I don't suppose I will get things into the drawers until after I get back from Detroit.


The great room is getting full of empty boxes and crumpled up newspaper.  Some of the boxes I want to keep, but there is a lot of stuff I would like to burn, and I'm trying to decide whether to just do it or check with the DNR.  When I came up, the fire hazard was very high (and the workmen were burning), but we've had at least a couple of inches of rain since then.  The place they have been burning is behind the house, 10 feet from everything, on a stone pile.  It should be safe, and I certainly don't want to haul all that stuff to the Copper Harbor dumpster!


When I went out to get the mail yesterday, about 2 pm, the first thing I heard was a loon singing his wild, wonderful song over on Lake Lilly.  I had to go, but I would love to have just sat and listened to it.  I hope pretty soon I'll be able to leave a window open at night so I can really listen.  This house is just as sound-proof as Champine (maybe more so), so I will have to have something open in order to hear the sounds I love.


There have also been a few geese flying around honking, and with the humidity, their voices seem to be magnified and echo all over Lake Lilly.  Neat.


So slowly, I begin to get things together (I think).  I think this is the hard stage - all of a sudden I think I'll find things will come together.  In the meantime, I keep withdrawing to my computer to ignore everything.  


Now it's time for dinner - Mariner North is having their prime rib buffet.


May 24

Well, I am officially living in my new house.  It was an interesting first night.  When I returned from my celebratory dinner, I realized that the temperature was 62 inside.  Then I tried to draw some hot water, and there wasn't any at all.  So I washed my face and went to bed.


My new bed is beautiful, and very comfortable, but it's about 29" high, and I'm thinking about getting some bed steps so I don't slide out before I get settled in the middle.  Once I get away from the edge, it's wonderful.  The lighthouse light isn't hidden by the trees, which will take some getting used to, but early this morning I looked out and could see stars in the sky.  I can also see some lights in Copper Harbor, 'way down the harbor.  It's dark around here.


So this morning I called the gas company, and they told me to check the gauges on the gas tanks.  One of them was empty, and while the other one wasn't, obviously no gas was coming out of it - the burners on my stove wouldn't light.  I had intended to eat breakfast out anyway: the only unpacking I did yesterday was the bedding and the computer (of course).


It got pretty cold in here before someone came.  He discovered that apparently something had run between the two tanks and hooked the hose from one, nearly disconnecting it.  So  instead of running on both tanks, I've been using only one, and it went dry.  We have been heating the great outdoors around here, because of the moving and the boys were staining the outside doors yesterday.


It's getting warmer in here now, and the stove works.  Hopefully, before I go to bed there will be some hot water and I can take a bath!  I think I need one.


My, the joys of a new house!


The water is still brown, but it isn't quite so full of sand as it was.  I forgot to flush it for a while today, but I will have to try to do it tomorrow.


I spent most of the day playing with the new computer, getting everything loaded onto it and updated properly, but I decided to maybe try unpacking a few boxes to keep myself warm.  I didn't do much.  I'm having a hard time deciding where I want things, since I don't like the drawer inserts that came with the cabinets, I have none, and my exertions of yesterday have left me with a sore hip.  


Everything will still be there tomorrow, and maybe I will be more recovered.   I don't think I like unpacking any better than I like packing, although it's less stressful.  The piles in the living room look smaller than they did on Champine, and there are some things I probably won't unpack at all.


And I just was reminded that I will have to recreate my personal dictionary (with words like Champine and Keweenaw in it) all over again.  Sometime I will have to try to find out where Microsoft stashes the dictionaries, so I can import and export them, and maybe even correct things I add by accident.


It's been a cloudy, dreary day, with occasional rain showers and temps in the 50s, although it's brightening up some now, and it's been raw and breezy outside.


At the same time, when I went outside this morning, birds were singing, and a goose with a very odd call flew over, and the breeze, while cool, didn't smell.  The cold is keeping the bugs down (a mosquito the size of a small fly lit on my hand this morning and was so sluggish it was easy to squash him). I have a couple of mosquito bites, but so far the black flies haven't found me.   


This is a good place, and I'm glad I'm here.


May 21

I thought it would be fun to show what a not so nice day in Keweenaw looks like.  It started raining around 11am, and rained more or less hard all day.  I felt really sorry for the three workmen who were around all day, because a lot of what they had to do was outside, and they didn't want to leave it in case it was nicer tomorrow.  Around 4 pm, there were a few mild claps of thunder (which sent me right down the basement to find the surge protector!), and it has been pouring ever since.


All the lights I insisted upon putting in the house have worked out wonderfully.  As dark as it was, and even at night, the craft room, the kitchen and all the hallways are nice and bright.


It sounds like the moving company is going to try to get my stuff out here on Wednesday.  That will be nice.  I can eat dinner out over the weekend and do a little shopping next week.


Yesterday, after I updated the journal, it was so nice outside that I decided to try taking a walk.  I didn't go more than a quarter of a mile, but it felt good (that was before it got damp!).  I took a picture of the house from the road.  I'm satisfied.  Considering all the clearing out they had to do, it isn't all that easy to see, and eventually the brush will grow back.  If I can get some trees planted in the open area between the gas tanks and the house,  that will help, too.  Right now, I could have a circular driveway, which I don't want.


I practiced taking closeup pictures on my walk.  Here is a different kind of serviceberry whose flowers don't grow in big bunches.  Here is a better picture of the kind that does grow in bunches. And I surprised myself by getting a really good shot of a strawberry in bloom.  A few other pictures didn't turn out so well, but I'm learning.


I'm waiting to take pictures of the inside of the house until things are a little neater than they are right now, so it will be a while.  Actually, not much is different from the last ones I posted, except in the little details you can't see in pictures.


Well, I will work on the gallery now, then get this uploaded.


May 20

What a beautiful day in the Keweenaw!


When I got here, about 9:30 this morning, I saw some big bird circling around the trees to the north, and when I looked up, there were 8 or more raptors of some sort soaring high overhead, and a couple closer to the ground, riding the thermals.  Without my binoculars, I can't tell whether they were big hawks or vultures.  I don't think they were eagles, because I can usually see the white heads and tails at the distance the first guy was.  A wonderful start to the morning.


I fiddled around some, stashed a few things in closets, and got the field guides up from the basement...so my bookshelves have their first books. I then took the punch list I made up yesterday and broke it down by room, then went around with a nightlight checking my work and also checking all the outlets.  So I have something to talk to Philippe about.  I hope he will be here tomorrow, although I haven't heard from him.  Frankly, it looks to me like nothing happens when he's not here.  There are a lot of picky little electrical things that need to be fixed.


After that, and determining that the screens for the sliders are conveniently stored in the basement behind the washer & dryer, where it will take a stronger person than me to get them out, I dug out the digital camera and went outside.  The first picture is the one of the harbor.  I wanted to take pictures of the white bushes.  The first one was on a small bush very close to to the edge of the cliff, and my legs were shaky enough that I didn't notice the styrofoam cup until after I pulled the picture into the computer.  It is hard to see the LCD in the sunshine, and no way am I going to get that close to the ground to use the viewfinder.  I tried a couple of real closeups, but evidently I don't quite understand how the macro feature works yet, and they didn't come out at all.  There is another bush growing in the lilacs along my northern lot line, and that picture came out all right.


So far as I can determine from the tree and bush books, they are called serviceberries or juneberries.  They have little purple fruits on them later in the spring that are usually either gone or dried up by the end of June.  The books say the fruits are sweet and juicy if picked earlier.  I imagine the birds and maybe the bears and coons like them.  Most of the ones that used to be in my field were bulldozed last year, but in the part that will be wild, I'm sure they'll grow again.


The lilacs are just beginning to show buds (so far behind Detroit!) and I could see a few little wild roses getting green.  I tried to take pictures of a very small violet (the way I like them!) and the blossoms on the bearberries, but that will have to wait until I figure out the macro thing.


I think I will go sit on the porch.  So far it has been breezy enough that the bugs have not been too busy.  Something was flying around me, but I don't think I have any bites yet.  I could sit and look at the lake all day on a day like this.  Cleaning and dusting will just have to wait.


May 19

Please notice that this upload contains two days' worth of journals.  I wanted to record my impressions of my first day of travel, even though I couldn't upload them on Thursday.


Friday morning, I discovered that all the white flowers I had been seeing in patches along the road are actually white trilliums - they were everywhere, including in a bouquet at the restaurant.  Well - east of Marquette they were everywhere.  I didn't see any on the rest of my drive.


I did not start early Friday morning.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, with temperatures in the 60's near Marquette and going down as I got toward Copper Harbor.  At this time of year, the drive from Marquette to Houghton, which can be so beautiful later in the spring and in the fall, is really boring.  Very few flowers, except for dandelions and a few marsh marigolds.  Most of the woods are black spruce and cedar, and it was very dull. There wasn't very much traffic, though, so I was able to make fair time.


I did stop at Fraki's and shop for cleaning supplies and a sandwich, which I still have not eaten. I got to Copper Harbor around 1:00, after driving up M26 along the shore.  I still have to investigate the trees that are blooming.  Many of the trees are just leafing out here, and it's fun to see spring again.  Tulips and some daffodils are in bloom, and it will surprise me if the lilacs come out before I go back.


I stopped to see Phoebe - and her house - and Shirley, and got to the house about 2:00.


Well, it's beautiful.  It's just like I thought it would be.  I can live here.


Of course, there are a bunch of little things that aren't quite right, nothing major, I think, and there is an incredible amount of dust on everything, but that's to be expected.


The fridge was on, but the boxes of parts were still in it, so I crammed the stuff I brought into it.  There wasn't a lot of time after Phoebe and I unloaded the truck, because the Volunteer Fire Department was having a benefit dinner, and we wanted to go to that.


The dinner was fun.  I saw a lot of my friends and met a lot of new people, and I ended up staying until almost 10:00.  Didn't sleep very well, because my head was full of all the little things I saw wrong in the house.


This morning, instead of going back to the motel, I went out to the house, and spent my morning bathroom time in my own lovely, light and sunny bathroom.  Neither of the electrical outlets work, but that's a minor thing. The toilet seats are very comfortable, even more than Champine's.


After that, I spent quite some time putting the fridge together.  With all its shelves and gizmos, it wasn't exactly easy, especially since the instructions are not good at all.  I will have to tell GE. Evidently they haven't turned on the water to the icemaker yet.


I eventually found the instructions for the fridge, the ovens, and the cooktop, but I haven't seen the ones for the microwave and the dishwasher.  I suppose they're someplace, but I've been through all the drawers and cupboards at least three times with no luck.


I unpacked the oven, and after I read the instructions, I can see I am going to be doing my cooking with the instructions in hand for a while.  Too many "pads" and functions I will have to just use to be comfortable with.


While I was doing all that, I noticed a commotion out in the water, and when I looked, there were at least three male mergansers and half a dozen females running across the water out in front.  While I watched, several others landed.  Apparently there was a school of minnows right along the shore that got them all excited.  I don't know what happens to the black and white male mergansers later in the year, but from now through the end of June is the only time I've ever seen them.  This year I should see the ducklings, too.


Everybody who had been here over the winter was talking about the deer, but the only one I've seen was a very skinny doe on the way from Marquette.  I guess the bears haven't put in an appearance yet.  I guess I'd rather the bears don't get interested in my place.


So I have been sitting around for a couple of hours, enjoying looking at the sky and the harbor and sitting in my craft room.  Even with the beautiful great room, I have the feeling I will be spending most of my time here, or at the bedroom end of the house.


I didn't mention the bugs, because it has been breezy and cool, but they're here.  I am prepared with lots of Deep Woods OFF! and hats.  I never said it was Paradise.  Only almost.


I'm here, I think I can move in even with the dust, and it's wonderful.


May 17

I'll make an entry tonight, even though it won't be uploaded until tomorrow.


I actually got away from Detroit!  For a while I was wondering.  I had to do some more putting and taking this morning, in order to cram in the last few things I really need, and along with the other things I had to do, I didn't start until 9:30.  Rather later than I'd hoped! I didn't do everything I wanted to, either. I missed the rush hour, which was good, because one lane of I-75 is closed off between 12 and 14 mile - right after all the traffic enters from I-696, and that was a real mess even when I got there.  I can imagine how it was an hour earlier!  It looks like they are going to widen both sides by at least one lane, though, and that is good news.  It was awful there when I was working in Troy - in 1991!  I can imagine what it's like now.  Until they get the work done, though, it's a real disaster.


The trip north was good after that.  It was cloudy and very humid and foggy when I left, but the further north I got, the more it cleared up.  I've never driven I-75 this early in the year, and it was delightful seeing the season roll back, the further north I went. 


North of about West Branch, all the wild fruit trees are in bloom.  I know there are chokecherries, pin cherries, service berries, as well as regular cherries and apples, but of course I was going too fast, and I was too far away to do more than guess what I was seeing. 


As I got further north, some of the trees that leaf out later were still in their blossom stage, so the pale acid green of the new leaves was mixed with bronzes and maroons that made the evergreens stand out even more.


I must say that fields of dandelions are very pretty and cheerful - so long as they aren't mine!


The Straits were fogged in, at least at water level.  It was really neat to come around the first curve where you can see the bridge, and see the pylons sticking out of a dense cloud into the sun.  Driving wasn't bad, because most of the bridge has one lane closed, and you followed the truck that inevitably got in line in front of you.  For a man-made object, I have to say the bridge is a pretty thing.  And when we came out of the fog on the northern side, the water between St. Ignace and Mackinaw Island was blue and nearly calm. Very nice.


In the UP, the sun came out, which made it  warm in the truck, although the automatic temperature control works pretty good.  


The trees were less well advanced north of the bridge, and besides dandelions, I saw marsh marigolds and wood anemones, for sure.  They both grow in big patches under the trees.  There seemed to be more fruit trees in bloom, too, and their white blossoms really stand out against the dark bark of the tree trunks.  The swamps on either side of M28 were duller than usual, though, because most of their flowers are later.


The long stretches along the roadside around Seney where tamaracks have been planted were pretty, because their needles are just starting to show,  very pale green.  All the water around there was really high, and several of the little streams were actually showing rapids.


My first look at Lake Superior, in Munising, was dull, because it was cloudy and foggy.  It seems like every time I drive between Munising and Marquette, they have subdivided another stretch of the shoreline.


I have never seen so much water in Scott Falls, but by then it was after 4:30, and I didn't want to stop.  I don't know which camera I would have used, anyway.  There is no film in either regular camera, and I haven't used the digital camera enough to get the effect I want.  Maybe next year.  One task for the summer has to be to really learn to use all the bells and whistles on that thing.  The journal and the gallery will benefit.  My aim is to get to the point where I can use the digital camera with the familiarity I have with, say, the Minolta with the 90mm macro lens.


On the way from Munising to Marquette, it clouded up and rained, pretty hard for a few minutes.  That washed the last of the bugs off my windshield.  I'd tried to do that when I stopped for gas at Newberry, but I'd never make it at a full-service gas station.  Now my wipers are nicely covered with grease that smears over my windshield when they are at all damp.  I guess the car is well broken-in now.


The temperature also fell off from the high 70's to 51!  It felt good, but the road surface had been so heated by the sun that it immediately started to smoke, and seeing wasn't too good for some time.  Interesting effect.  Now, at 7:30, the sky is clear and beautiful and you'd never know there was a raindrop, except by looking at my dirty car.


I pulled into the Marquette Holiday Inn at about 5:30.  A good drink and a good meal later, I don't feel bad, but I only got about 6 hours' sleep last night, so I think I am going to crash.  Tomorrow night, even moreso.


Not only am I anxious to see the house, I am looking forward to seeing Keweenaw.  It should be even earlier in spring there.  If I see some flowers along the way through Michagamme and up through Keweenaw, I may be tempted to stop and try to take a picture or two.  The whole idea behind the digital camera was to have a camera that was always available.  We'll see.


May 16

Well, I guess I'm off to Copper Harbor tomorrow, I hope at some reasonable hour.  It's 11:30 right now, and I just finished a double, 90 proof Jack Daniels on the rocks, so I make no predictions.


The Yukon isn't big enough by half, so half the clothes I wanted to bring and most of the sewing equipment will have to wait and go with the cats.  


Dr. Lehman wants to see me in a couple of weeks, and since June 5 is the last day he will be in the office for 10 days or so, I will be coming home June 4 to get the cats.  I hope I can get moved in before then!  I wish it had been week later, but I understand what he's doing.  I started taking my anti-shingles medication this week, and he wants to be sure my kidney function is still all right after 3 weeks.  I appreciate his concern.


The cats were swarming around the kitchen door so much while I was packing (and unpacking!) that I incarcerated them on the porch.  DC whined all the time he was out there, but the Buster practically gave me heart failure.  When I opened the door to let them back into the kitchen, DC  came, but Buster was nowhere to be seen.  Since he discovered how to get through the cat door into the dining room when he was a baby kitten, I wasn't sure he hadn't done that again - and walked out the open slider while I wasn't looking.  Well, about 20 minutes after I opened the door, he came strolling in from the porch like nothing had happened.  When I'd like to ring his neck.


So I am totally exhausted and stressed out, but I will be off tomorrow morning sometime. Since I don't have the cats, I'll be stopping at Marquette, and since I have a reservation, when I get there is when I get there. I expect to crash when I get to Copper Harbor.


Updates should come more frequently - along with pictures! - once I get there.


May 11

My, but it's been a long time since I wrote in the journal!  It's just that I suddenly got overtaken by the sorting and packing, and there didn't seem to be much going on.


By the time I saw Dr. Lehman on Monday, April 30, my counts were already starting to come up, and they are now normal.  I will see him again Monday afternoon to be sure they're still all right, but that mini-crisis seems to be over. He thinks I contracted some sort of virus which, under the circumstances, caused my white count to go down rather than up.  Apparently that can happen after a bone marrow or stem cell transplant.  Whatever it was, I'm over it.  I'm also feeling better.


After two days of packing I saw that we weren't going to be ready by May 4, so I rescheduled the pickup of my stuff, and it went yesterday (5/10).  I apparently stressed out over that, because I didn't sleep well for several nights.  As it was, a few hours after they left, I realized that I had meant to send a hand truck that I have two of, and completely forgot it.  Oh, well.  Maybe sometime I will have a light enough load to take it (fat chance!).


It is very nice not to have the living room full of boxes, and the other computer was sitting in its boxes in the middle of the kitchen for two weeks.  I seem to have a lot more space.  Now I can concentrate on gathering all the stuff I want to take with me - more than will fit in the truck, I'm sure.


I got the kitty cage today, and it is big and heavy, but maybe they won't feel quite so confined as they do in their carriers.  I will set it up and leave it so they can get used to it.


Anyway, it became clear to me that no way can I leave on a Monday, since there are last-minute things I want to do that need stores to be open, and besides, there's no way I can be ready to go by then.  So I have decided to go Wednesday, if I'm ready, or Thursday at the latest.  It's kind of nice not to have to adhere to a fixed schedule.  At this time of year, I think I can be sort of loose about it.  


Now that it's time to go, I'm anxious to get away, and I'm sure I'll be all agitated until I get moved in.  Apparently the house is livable right now, although the water hasn't been tested and apparently the electrical inspector found several minor things he wants changed.  I guess they are a little more casual about things like that in Keweenaw.


It still hardly seems possible that I am finally going to get to live in Copper Harbor.  I don't think I'll really believe it until the house is settled.  Even though the warm weather we've had seems to be going away, I'm getting anxious...


Last updated 08/04/11 08:45:45 PM