A View From the Field








Journal July 2001


July 31

Under the circumstances, I thought I'd better commemorate today.  I am very grateful to be here to see my 60th birthday.  Amazing.  Besides, I feel good and I am apparently doing well. Somehow the zero years have always meant more to me than the others, although there certainly isn't any difference between yesterday and today. And I certainly don't feel 60 years old!  More like late 30s or so, although my legs certainly aren't what they were then!


I celebrated the day - if you can call it a celebration - by going to town for food and the ugliest chair in the world.  It's also one of the most comfortable chairs I've ever sat in.  The problem is that it is a very colonial-type wooden glide rocker with tie-on cushions.  It has a matching ottoman. Just not my style at all.  But it's big enough and straight enough to support my back, and most of all, the seat is high enough that I can actually get out of it without struggling.  My old easy chair from Hillcrest is still comfortable, but I discovered when I sat in it that it's almost impossible to get out of.  Besides, DC has preempted it.  There is so much hair on the seat that nobody can sit there without looking like a hairball.  I found a cheap towel at KMart today that I am going to  put in the seat after I remove the hair.  DC won't mind.


Anyway, the chair should be delivered Friday, and the ottoman sometime later (no matching ottomans in stock - weird).  I am anxious to sit in it here.


I rather pigged out on fruit - two kinds of melon, lots of nectarines, Ranier cherries, and at Fraki's I found local raspberries by the pint.  I will probably have a flux, but the fresh fruit is one of the things I enjoy most about this time of year.


I also got some pails, so now I can begin to do an adequate job of cleaning up the floor where we all have tracked in mud from outside.  Then I can put down the inside mat in the vestibule and maybe it will stay a little cleaner.


The landscaping is coming along, and that is a big reason for all the mud - actually sand - that is being tracked in.  When the pebbles stay in place and get rained on, the sand washes off them, and they are actually pretty clean to walk on.  But when a new surface gets turned up, all the sand is still there, and it is an awful mess.  The gravel company delivered two loads of crushed mine rock tonight, and that is quite clean, so that is what will go on the walk surfaces.  It will be nice.


The front yard (a.k.a, garden) is full of trenches, and while I was away, they put down the liner for the pond.  So I guess I am going to have a pond with a waterfall.  Interesting.  I am going to have to research pond flora and fauna, because I would like it to be self-sustaining so I don't have to muck it out.


Since it is too late this year to grow much of anything but grass, I will lay down some Preen in the beds to keep the weeds at bay.  I think I will be able to get some perennials that need to be planted in the fall - peonies and poppies and iris, for example, and try the spring planting next year.  They are pretty big beds, so there may be a lot of annuals for a few years.


It also seems amazing that I've been here for two and a half months already.  I guess I had walked this house so long in my dreams that it seems I have lived here forever.  I still love it.  


The weather was supposed to be very hot and humid, but it actually never got over 80 where I was - and about 80% or higher humidity, so it's like that again.  The harbor isn't quite so pretty when it is full of fog.  At least it didn't get into the upper 80s, which I guess it was in Detroit today. A very typical July 31st.  That's the penalty I pay for being born in the middle of summer.


So that was my birthday.  Since I ate lunch at the Chinese restaurant, I didn't go out for dinner.  I will save that for tomorrow, when I expect to have more of an appetite.


July 28

I have been remiss in updating the journal, and I'm sorry.  It was a simple matter of laziness, I confess.  I have a lot of pictures, and I was just too lazy to do the work on the site to add them in.


The weather has been - well - summery, I guess you'd say.  The week of the 16th wasn't too warm, but it was very foggy and damp.   While it's fun to watch the fog roll in and out for a while, I'd rather see blue skies.  There was one late afternoon when Brockway Mountain seemed to be encased in a bubble of fog, and that was neat. I didn't take a picture, because it was such a delicate effect I don't think I could have captured it.


Monday, the 23rd, was the kind of summer day I fervently hope we don't have too many of - temperature in the middle 80s, and humidity near 80%. The only thing that made it at all bearable (and that was not very) was the wind, which was gusting close to 30 mph, I'd guess.  Nearly blew away every piece of paper in the house.


Monday night, it cooled down and blew some more, and the rest of the week was my idea of near paradise - temperatures topping out in the low 70s, low humidity, and not a cloud in the sky.  What a week!


Last night, the clouds rolled in again, and today is quite cool and dark, and there was a spit of rain a few minutes ago.  They say it's supposed to be hot and humid again this coming week, which, if it happens, would only be fitting, I suppose.  I've been told it was horrible on July 31 60 years ago.  And I can remember many a July 30th when my mother nearly tore her hair out  because the frosting was melting off the cake...


I have been prowling the road at intervals, taking pictures of the weeds as they bloom.  I noticed something new down in the swamp this afternoon, but it is too dark out to get good pictures of it, so that will have to wait for some sunshine.


The bilberries were interesting.  I was out on the road, taking pictures of weeds, when I noticed these dark blue berries.  I tasted one, and it was sort of blueberry-ish, but quite tart.  They are also larger than the wild blueberries, and a lot easier to pick, since the bushes are two to three feet high.  I picked a handful, and stopped on my way from dinner to get a package of pancake mix.  When I looked at what I picked, I realized there weren't enough to make good pancakes, so I took my sieve and went to get some more.  I picked about a cupful, and incidentally determined that the mosquitoes have not died out!  They are smaller than the first crop, but they bite just as viciously.  The trick is not to go bumbling around in the bushes after dinner.


The bilberry pancakes were a huge success, and I may have to try it again, or try to get enough blueberries.  Maybe I will just buy blueberries when I go to town this week.  It's time to stock the larder again.


Not much has happened on the house.  The hurricane shutters are still someplace down south, and heaven knows if they will ever get here.  I should probably begin to work on blinds for the bedrooms, since I will be having company in September.


However, after several days of false starts, Friday the landscaping began.  Evidently, I am going to have a pond and a waterfall.  The retaining wall for the pine at the corner of the house is in, and there are lots of trenches and piles.  It will take a couple more days at least to get everything else done.


Because I knew the crew would be here early, I got up before 7am (after not sleeping all night because of excitement!).  What a beautiful morning!  This is what I see to the left when looking out the kitchen window.  I was standing at the top of the deck stairs.  It was cool - under 60 - perfectly clear and perfectly calm.  The east end of the harbor was, as you can see, just like a mirror.  A glorious morning to be alive and well.


Well, I suppose if it was like that all the time it would be boring.  I could stand to be bored.  I just enjoy breathing on days like that.  It smells so good around here!  So I will treasure them as they come.  I'm hoping there are lots of days like that over the next three months.


And what a delight to know I don't have to go back to Detroit for good for three or four months!


So that's all the excitement there has been around here.  I will try to be more diligent about keeping up the journal.  I have the procedure for adding pictures down pretty well now, and when I finally got to it, of course it wasn't nearly such a chore as I'd anticipated.


July 15

It hardly seems like July could be half over already, but of course I essentially lost a week.


It was a tiring week, but useful. The entire week was totally without clouds, both here in Copper Harbor and in Detroit.  Monday and Tuesday were extremely hot in Detroit.  All the way south, the thermometer in my car read about 92, and I was very thankful for the air conditioning.


When I walked in the house, I wanted to open the sliding door in the kitchen, but I forgot that it opens quite easily and I had put a board in the track, so when I hauled it back and hit the board, it jumped out of the track, and I had to bring all  my stuff in through other doors.  Grr. Fortunately, it wasn't badly off-track, and all it really needed was a strong person to push it open and it went back where it belongs.


Tuesday, the doctor said I'm fine.  All my counts are good, although my magnesium was low.  I don't know what that means, or why, or what magnesium does for me, but it isn't life-threatening and it's easy to fix.


I took a fast trip to the pet food store and got Buster a scratching pad and a toy, then to Kroger's to stock up on some foodstuffs I haven't been able to get here.


Wednesday, it cooled down wonderfully - into the 70s - and while the car was having an oil change, I got into the shed and found my shorts, my bathing suits, the extension tubes for the vacuum cleaner and some outdoor extension cords I'd forgotten I had.  When the organization ladies took the bags of clothes into the shed last November, they stuffed one back on a shelf in a corner, and they missed it when they hauled the rest of the stuff out when we were packing.  The extension tubes had been stuffed into the holder with the attachments for my other vacuum.  When I went into the shed when we were packing, I was looking but not seeing and I missed all that stuff.


So I really could have left Thursday, but it was nice to pack up the car in a leisurely fashion.  The only down part was that I went to the other supermarket and while I was inside, somebody backed their car out and scraped the right rear side of my lovely new car and left a bunch of marks behind the right wheel.  So it is now well baptized.  I would like to get it repaired, because I hate scraped up cars, but I'll have to see.


Friday was a beautiful day, although it got into the low 80's away from the lake.  That's the reason I prefer to drive when it's cloudy - the inside of the car doesn't heat up so much.  It was a frustrating ride, though.  There was lots of traffic, and lots of people going very slowly with no idea that there were other people on the road.  There is a lot of roadwork going on, too, both around Detroit and in the UP.  It took me 10 hours, 45 minutes to get home, and 11 hours to get back.  Fortunately, I didn't run across anybody on the scenic route into Copper Harbor.  I was tired when I got here, so I didn't even go out for dinner.


It was really weird being at Champine with no cats. I kept expecting one or more to show up, and I didn't sleep very well.


They were very happy to see me, especially since I didn't go back out Friday night.  Phoebe reports she only saw DC twice and Buster not at all, which is backward from Detroit, but it figures.  Buster still isn't totally acclimated to this place.


Yesterday was another beautiful day, sunny and cool, and I got nearly everything put away that I brought with me.  Friday the only thing I unpacked was the cooler and my train case.


Over night, it clouded up, and for most of the morning today we had a nice, soft rain, which we badly needed.  There was just enough of a breeze that if the window was open I could sit and smell the wonderful smell of wet woods.  It's still around 60, and the wind is kicking up now, although the rain has sort of stopped.  Doesn't matter.  


I was almost as excited, coming down the scenic route, as I always was when I vacationed here.  I couldn't wait to get home.  And there's enough to do in the house that the weather doesn't bother me much.  It is too bad for the tourists, which the Harbor has in abundance, but it looks like we are in for several days of clouds and rain.  


Well, I'm back.  I have to go to Detroit on August 13, for an August 14 appointment, but that's a ways away.  I have over 4 weeks to enjoy being here.


July 7

One more short entry before I pack up the laptop for the trip to Detroit.  We finally had some rain yesterday, which we badly needed, and for most of the morning the Harbor was full of fog.  It cleared up after noon, and now it is clear and beautiful again.  This kind of broken record I can stand.  The temperature is in the upper 60s and the wind is light from the northwest.  My very favorite kind of weather.


Besides, if I am playing with the computer, I can continue to procrastinate and not get anything ready to go.  So many things I should do, and I just don't feel like doing any of them.  If I still feel like this in November, I may get snowed in after all!  Not that it's vital that I take anything back except something to wear, but I do have too much stuff here, and I should begin to get it out of here.


Because of the weather, there aren't any more pictures, but I sent the one of Lake Fanny Hooe to the Pasty Cam  and they used it as a "Pasty Vision" picture.  I was flattered.  It is a pretty good picture, if I do say so myself.  The comments were very nice.  I guess I'm an adequate photographer after all, even though I keep forgetting some of the fundamentals...like horizontal horizons.


I'm not sure I will make any entries while I am in Detroit, since I won't be there long, and this time next week I will be back here again.


July 5

The Fourth of July was an interesting day.  It started out clear, then clouded up, and about the time I was going  to dinner, it clouded up and sprinkled until almost 9 pm.  Dinner was very nice, although Harbor Haus was packed.  Shirley and I came back to the house and sat and chatted until dark.  As the sun was setting, the wind shifted northerly and the clouds rolled away to the south, and it was a beautiful evening.  We actually had a pretty good view of the fireworks - from a mile and a half away - but I think we both thought it isn't at all like being right across the harbor from the beach where they set them off.  They were very nice, and I enjoyed them.  Just the problems I had getting into and out of town for dinner convinced me that I'll either be here or in a room in the King Copper Annex, where I will stay all night.  There were an amazing number of people in town.


They weren't totally rowdy, though.  I went to town today, and when I drove through Copper Harbor, about 10:30 am, it was all cleaned up.  There certainly are a lot more people in town.  It's hard to see up and down US41 because of the cars parked along it, and you can't just pull out into the street any more because there's traffic.  Makes getting the mail just that more interesting.


I didn't stay in town long, because my legs weren't working very well, unfortunately.  I wanted to investigate the supermarkets in Calumet, and I wanted to stop at Ace Hardware, and my toes got sore.  Fraki's has most of the food things I can't get at Econo Foods, so that was useful.  Ace Hardware is one of those places you'd better stay out of.  They have most anything anyone could want, and a lot of things you think you can't do without.  Hardware stores are right up there with office supply stores, fabric stores, and bookstores as my favorite places to stay out of.  


I got a new cord for my coffee pot.  I hope that fixes my problem with it.  I have been having to wiggle the plug in the pot a lot - yesterday I almost didn't get any coffee! - and it's annoying.


Which reminds me, we had another power outage Tuesday.  It woke me up when the cordless phones said "bleep!", and it lasted until 1:30 in the afternoon.  Apparently a transformer blew out.  I went to town for breakfast - coffee was rationed, but everything else was fine - and I had lots to do that didn't require power, since it was sunny.


Which takes me back to Monday, when there was a carpenter here most of the day.  He finished the powder room wainscoting - it looks really nice - and hung the mirror for me, so the only thing left is to get the lights hung properly.  Then he installed the closet system in my closet, and did a couple of other small things.


The closet system is wonderful.  I wish I could have them on Champine!  I actually have more room than I need!  It's amazing how easy it is to store things when you have the right kind of storage.


Because Shirley was coming last night, I rustled around and cleaned some.  It is nice to have counters in the kitchen and bathroom again, and working lamps in the living room.  The office is still a disaster, but I expected that.


When I left Calumet, I decided to drive back up 5 Mile Point Road and M26 for a change.  I had some thought of  stopping at 5 Mile Point and eating the sandwich I bought, but it's the season, and there were people parked all around, so I didn't stop.  I'd like to get onto that beach again, too, but not until I can walk a little better.


The trees are growing up enough that it's getting hard to get good pictures of the lake from M26.  I decided to go up Brockway, since it was an absolutely gorgeous, clear day.  That was a little more fruitful.  Here is a picture looking west from the top of Brockway.  They say you can see Isle Royal from there, but I don't believe it.  I never have.  I noticed when I loaded the picture that I had a slant on.  You can tell I haven't been taking very many pictures before this spring - keeping the horizon horizontal is fundamental.  Oh, well.  


I couldn't get a shot of Lake Medora, because I would have been facing right into the sun.


About halfway down on the Copper Harbor side is a pretty good place to get a picture looking east, with Lake Fanny Hooe on the right and part of the harbor on the west.  When you blow up that picture, you can see a huge house just to the right of the tree - guess which one?  It really does stick out from that angle, and since it's sided with vinyl, it isn't going to "weather" in.  Oh, well.  


You can also see some of the sandstone barricades built by the WPA in the '30s.  They also built the road and the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.  It's always surprised me that they even got up into Keweenaw.


I always like to see the Harbor from Brockway's Nose.  It was so clear you can see the freighter out on the lake and the breakers on the gull rocks.  The wind wasn't as strong as it was this morning, so there weren't so many whitecaps.  Not that it was calm.  it was pretty windy on top of the mountain.  Here is a little wider angle shot from Brockway's Nose, where you can see more of the town.  A month ago, you wouldn't have seen all those people.


It was such a gorgeous day!  It got up into the middle 60's late in the afternoon, and it's still as clear as can be, although there is a cloud in the west as twilight fades.  The moon should be rising full tonight, but it's way in the southeast and it will be a long  time before it gets over the trees.  It must be rising and setting just about as far south as it can - I'll have to check that out.


I guess it isn't going to stay clear, but it certainly was a day to enjoy today!

My, this has been a confused entry.  I should rewrite it, but I think I'll leave it as it is.


I have to drive back to Detroit Monday, and I'm getting clutched up about it already.  I don't want to go.  Seems to me, I've said that before.


July 1

It has been a gorgeous couple of days, and I have a ton of pictures.  I finally sat down with the camera book and discovered that when I first got it and had read the entire book, I set up a manual mode especially for close-up pictures, which focuses only on the center of the field.  What a relief!


But to begin.  Yesterday it finally cooled off somewhat - into the 70s.  That was a relief.  The wind swung around to the west, and some of the humidity went away.   On the way back from getting the mail, I took a picture of the meadow rue that is growing in the low place between Lake Lilly and the Harbor.  I also tried to get a shot of the whole plant, but that didn't turn out so well.


I guess I didn't warn you that when I am in Copper Harbor I spend a lot of time looking at the sky - night and day.  Last evening, as I was about to go to bed, I looked out my bedroom windows and saw some really interesting clouds.  By the time I fetched the camera, some of the interest was gone, but the colors were pretty.  There were little ridges of clouds, which made the sky look like a pond where someone had thrown a stone.  The effect persisted as the cloud went overhead.  I could also see the moon through the office windows.  It is nearly full now, and it is very bright.  


Over night, the wind switched around to the north, and the temperature went down to about 45 - what a wonderful night to sleep!  I still had one window open, and I could hear the big lake speaking all night.  I seem to sleep very soundly with that murmur in the background.


Today dawned cool and very bright - much too nice to be inside cleaning, which is what I was supposed to do!  I decided to walk over to Pebble Beach.  The wind was strong and cold, but the sea was fun to watch.  That shot is the very first one I took, and it was the only one where I actually caught the spray over the rocks.  You can also see the vertical vein of calcite that starts out on the beach, goes over the big rock, and continues right out into the water.  I'm certainly no geologist, and I've often wondered how that foot-deep layer of calcite got between two layers of conglomerate.  It also shows that all the rock in this area got tipped up on end.  Interesting.  I took some pictures looking east down the coast, of which this was the best.  The lake was kicking up quite respectably.  I certainly would not have wanted to be on the boat going to Isle Royale this morning.


There are beach peas growing on the beach.  In the lee of the big rock, there are some small maple leaf viburnum bushes. Here is a picture of another flower cluster.  That is a really pretty bush, and later in the summer, it has seeds that the birds eat.


On the way back to the house, I discovered that the bladder campions are blooming on my drain field, and that picture turned out perfect.  


So many of the other closeups I tried to take were out of focus, however, that I finally gave in and hauled out the camera book.  As I read it, and checked the camera, I remembered that when I first got it, I  set up a manual mode just for close up pictures, with the autofocus area right in the middle of the field.  What a difference!  I also broke down and installed the large flash card memory, so now I can take 120 pictures without having to delete any - or I can take some very high resolution ones, if I want to make some large prints.


Once I figured out what to do, I wanted to go back and take some shots of some flowers that I found growing on the big rock at pebble beach, but I didn't feel like walking all the way, so I drove part way.  And I went nuts.


In between the tire ruts on the way to the beach, I found a tiny white flower that I was later able to identify as a "three toothed cinquefoil" or "wineleaf cinquefoil", depending upon which book you believe.


On the beach, I took another shot of the beach peas.  They are a pretty flower.  Then I found several things I cannot identify.  There was a yellow flower that grows in clusters, but before the buds open, it is a long stem with bumps along it.  There was a little white flower, that I took another shot of.  From the Peterson guide, I guess it might be a "rush aster", but I'm not sure, because he doesn't say what color the center is.  Many asters have yellow centers, but this one clearly doesn't.


Growing out of a cleft in the rock, I found a really strange plant with three petaled flowers.  It has runners, and here is another plant.  I have no idea what it might be: none of my field guides show anything like it.  I wished (not for the first time!) that I could get down on my hands and knees and take my glasses off to get a really close look at it.  That's nearly impossible, though, if I want to get up again.


There is a kind of little gully back behind the big rock, where there is a little more soil and a lot of protection from the wind.  I wouldn't have gone back there, because walking wasn't so good, but I saw something orange.  What I found was a wood lily.  Here it is from the side.  When the camera is set up properly, it really takes good pictures.  There was also a single daisy growing in the same area.  I was rather surprised to find both the lily and the daisy there, because it doesn't look like there is that much soil, but I guess they don't need much. 


On my way back down the beach, I found a plant that was about a foot tall that I can't identify either.  Unfortunately, I forgot to look at its leaves.  I may have to go back and do that, but there wasn't anything I could see that looked like that in the field guides.  It's frustrating: I like to know what I'm looking at, and particularly I like to know what I'm taking pictures of!


The clover is starting to bloom, and red clover seems to grow particularly large here.  That blossom was about an inch in diameter.  One of the reasons I like to take the really close up pictures of common flowers is that so many of them have incredibly interesting structures.  For instance, consider the common English plantain.  There is a noxious weed, if ever there was one!  But what a fascinating flower!  I first really looked at that over 35 years ago when I originally got interested in closeup photography, and it has always amazed me.  Or consider common hawkweed.  Its flowers are not more than " in diameter, and it is certainly a nasty weed in the garden, but it is a nice, clear yellow, and when it grows in patches, it is really quite pretty.


All week I've been watching the daisies start to bloom out the bathroom window.  I didn't think there were any, but obviously there are some very vigorous plants, in spite of the fact that they're growing in what looks like pure pebbles.  I like daisies, particularly in large clumps.


So that was my day.  I spent the rest of the afternoon loading the pictures into the computer and arranging them on the website.  I wish I could find out what some of those things are.  Now the moon is shining in the office window, and it's dusk - another beautiful sunset, but I've missed it - and I will try to get this uploaded before I head off to bed.

Last updated 08/04/11 08:45 PM