A View From the Field








Journal August 2001


August 31

Here it is, the end of the month, and I haven't written in the journal for ten days.  Oh, well.  The best intentions, and all that.  Not much of note has happened, I guess.  I also took a bunch of pictures, and the thought of getting them into the website sort of turned me off.  So I thought I would end up the month without them and see if I can get the ambition to publish them over the weekend.


It doesn't seem possible that this is the end of August.  I really do lose track of time up here - sometimes I even have to look at my watch or the computer to see what day it is.  Time just passes.


The weather has been mostly fabulous - clear skies and temps in the upper 60s here, with not much wind until the night before last.  Then we had about 48 hours of 30 and over mile an hour winds and clouds, and the lake kicked up a bit.  With the windows in the window seat open, it was noisy enough that I had some trouble sleeping - or actually, I was having some trouble sleeping for some reason, and the noise bothered me.  Tonight, it has cleared up and calmed down and it's supposed to get quite cool.  I suppose I will look at the thermometer in the morning and find it stuck on 50 instead of 60.  


I was thinking as I listened to the lake and watched the wind that it was blowing summer away, and it looks like I might be right.  Unbelievable.


My landscaping is about as done as the builder can do it.  It will look nice once there is something (anything at all except a little grass) growing in it.  I put in an order for four pounds of wildflower seeds today, to try to cover up the back and side parts where they tore out the brush, and I will probably order some plants over the weekend.  There are some things that should be planted in the fall - poppies, peonies, iris, and things like that.  There is no lack of places to order from.  I put "seed catalog" into Google and got 10 pages of listings!


There hasn't been much rain, and my pump from the lake isn't wired yet, so I will have to hope that either it rains or the electrician comes back.  The first is probably more likely, even though the sky is nearly completely clear tonight.


There was something growing the other day: back by the edge of the septic field, the mother of all thistles sprouted.  It hadn't formed a stalk, but the rosette of leaves was probably eighteen inches across.  It was sort of a neat looking thing, but the last thing I want is for that to flower and set seed - it would probably be six feet tall!  So I got the kids to dig it out.


The white pine by the house, which looks better than all the others despite having all its roots upset, has fruited this year, and both I and the cats have been very interested in the squirrels and little birds who eat them.  The squirrels aren't much larger than than the chipmunks, but they have a chirring call that is very noisy.


So that's what has been going on - not much.  It's wonderful. The only thing that's sad is that I only have about 10 weeks - minus two trips to Detroit - left and I'll have to go south.


I just looked out the window to see the sun shining on the trees.  It is setting almost over the lighthouse now, and the days are getting shorter at both ends every day.  The trees are beginning to lose their deep green of summer, and on the covered road between Copper Harbor and Lake Medora, some maples are already turning color.  Much as I love it here in the fall, I hate to see that happen.


Oh, well.  It's been a wonderful summer.


August 21

Well, Arthur has shamed me into making a journal entry.  I should have done it when I got back, but I was too busy enjoying the wonderful weather.


My trip home on the 13th was uneventful, except that somewhere between Munising and Newberry, I got a message on the screen in the car saying (something) engine oil.  I was watching the road at the time, and I only caught part of it.  I didn't think it was "check" because the oil pressure gauge was normal, but I wanted to check the oil anyway, just in case.  


When I got to Newberry and stopped for gas, I discovered that I didn't know how to get the hood open.  Every car is different (my mechanic assured me later) and this one is different from any car I've ever owned. Oh, well.  When I started the car up, I discovered that it was saying "CHANGE engine oil", which, although weird (since I'd had the oil changed the last time I was in Detroit), wasn't critical.   It did give me a turn, after all the grief I'd had from the old car.


Thankfully, it was nice in Detroit - temps in the 70s and clear.  Also very dry: my garden has just about dried up.  More about that later.  Unfortunately, it was noisier than usual, too.  Tuesday morning, a cement truck appeared at the end of the street at 7am - a little earlier than I'd planned to get up.  The house at the west end of the street was getting a new driveway.  Wednesday, it came at 8 am.  


I have discovered two things I do miss about summer in Detroit: the crickets and the cicadas.  There aren't any of either up here.  Because of the dryness, I think, there are fewer of both in Detroit this year, and no female cicadas (yet), but it was wonderful to hear them.  Going to bed with the crickets and cicadas always gives me the warm, comfortable feelings I had when I was a little girl, before we had air conditioning.  I have no trouble falling to sleep with that noise.


So the doctor says I look good.  He wants me to go back in the middle of September to have my mediport flushed, but I won't see him until the middle of October.  Guess that's good news.  He was also talking about taking the mediport out.  That would be nice from the maintenance standpoint, but it has been sort of like a security blanket for me.  We'll have to negotiate that.


Wednesday I spent some time at Carey's shop and bought entirely too much.  I'd called Debbie before I left, and called her back to offer to go to her father's memorial service, which was Thursday, but it was for just the immediate family.  As an alternative, we met for dinner in Troy (at the Japanese restaurant), and had a good talk.


On my way back home afterwards, I decided to leave Thursday, rather than waiting until Friday.  Not much I want to be here!  I wasn't taking much back except food, so loading the car was easy.  In fact, if the dishwasher had finished earlier, I could have left before 7:30.


Somewhere north of Flint it started to drizzle, and there was rain all the way to just west  of Negaunee.  It wasn't continuous, but several times it got heavy enough that the spray made the road nearly invisible.  I like to drive as far ahead of the car as I can see, and I'm not comfortable when the visibility gets down to a few car-lengths.  Not that I slowed down.


It got pretty hairy up on M28 between Newberry and Munising, mostly because there is a couple of miles of road construction where they are putting in passing lanes.  The person at the head of the pack was driving very strangely - speeding up and slowing down and generally making it hard to follow. There was an RV two cars ahead of me, and everybody behind me assumed he was the offender, but it turned out to be somebody six cars ahead of him - as the idiot who passed him in spite of not being able to see found out.  Ha.  When it pays to be patient.


Oddly enough, when I had to get gas (in Trout Lake - a real rip-off) and when I had to go to the bathroom, it stopped raining.  It didn't stop while I stopped for lunch, at the roadside park across from Scott Falls, so I didn't get out to go to the outhouse.


Then I got to Hancock, and when I got to the top of Quincy Hill, there was pea-soup fog, which was far worse than the rain.  It lasted until a couple of miles north of Gratiot Lake Road, then it stopped, like driving through a wall. Very strange.


I finally made it home by 6:30, which was pretty good time, considering.  I went in the "back" door - the one by the powder room - and went right into the powder room.  I just about made it, and I said something out loud, and immediately there were two very happy cats, purring and chewing me out.


The weather has been fabulous here, highs in the low 70s, lows around 60, and perfectly clear skies until today.  John Dee says it probably won't rain, but the NWS thinks otherwise.  I'll bet on John.  He is a very good weather forecaster.


We are in for some clouds, though, which is too bad, but into each life...


They sort of finished up the landscaping while I was gone, but I guess they aren't completely done, because the cement mixer is still here.  It looks OK.  The garden will be nice.  The waterfall is going to be fine, but it sort of looks like a chimney, and the pump is sticking up above what will  be the level of the water, which just won't do.  I guess they are all out of town again, because nobody has returned my calls.  So we approach completion ... asymptotically.  All the cabinet inserts I ordered arrived, so there will be something else for them to do.


And that's been the week.  I was very happy to get back, and I don't think I will ever get tired of looking at the Harbor.  It's good to be here.


August 11

I will get off a short entry before I pack everything up for the trip home.


The heat broke Thursday (I think), with a fantastic thunderstorm in the morning - thunder, lightening, lots of rain, and winds they said were clocked at 65 mph.  I know it was blowing so hard when the rain hit that I just barely got the sliders closed.  I didn't want to close up the whole house until I had to, and the storm got here so fast I was a little slow.  It wasn't too nice for the rest of the day, but yesterday and today have been fabulous - highs in the low to middle 70s and nighttime temps around 60 (that's here on the lake shore - inland it was cooler).  Now this is the weather I moved here for!


Fortunately the heat will have broken in Detroit by the time I get there.  I don't know if I could take the temperatures they've been having for the past couple of weeks.  Nasty, and some of the weather forecasters on the radio have been comparing it to the late '80s.  How well I remember...


Slowly I have been packing up the boxes I'm taking home (most of the stuff I hauled up here!) and moving the garden stuff into the basement.  It won't be totally cleaned up, but it should look better without all that stuff in the great room and the office.  I still probably have too much stuff here, but I will probably have to make another trip back before I move back for the winter.


I probably could even take the sewing machine, except for a sweatshirt and a pair of pants.  I doubt I will get to the cushions for the window seat this year.  Next trip.


I spent most of the afternoon trying unsuccessfully to get the high-speed link between the two computers set up and working.  Then when I tried to report back to the vendor, their website wouldn't log me on.  Grr.  It would be nice to have, because I wouldn't have to unplug the printer every time I want to transfer files between the desktop and the laptop.  Well, if I ever get logged on, I will report what I did and what happened, and see what they say next.  It shouldn't be so hard.


Tomorrow, I will be packing furiously and moving boxes, so that most everything is in the truck before I go to dinner.  That way I should be able to get as early a start as possible Monday morning.


I don't feel any better about going back than I did the last times, but I should be used to doing things I don't really want to by this time.


August 7

I'm not the only one complaining about the weather.  If you decide to hang out in these parts, you are a Great Northern type for sure, which means you like it cool.  Besides, I've noticed over the years that it takes a certain amount of any kind of weather - cold or hot - for the body (at least my body) to get acclimated, and up here we usually get so little really hot weather that we never get used to it.  At least, I hope we never do. That's why I'm here.


Anyway, bad as it was Sunday in Copper Harbor, it was worse further south, and while yesterday was quite tolerable (in my opinion) here, it was as bad as Sunday down toward Houghton.  So I really can't complain about the one miserable day.


John Dee, our local weather guru, says this kind of weather only happens every 20 or 30 years (see - 1988), and I hope he's right.  If it was going to happen, I figured all along it would be this year, just to make sure I know I'm not living in paradise.


Last night was a wonderful night to sleep, so I did - eleven hours or so.  Got up feeling hung over, though.  I really must force myself to drink more water, especially when I'm sweating like I was Sunday.  It probably didn't go below 70, but there was enough of a breeze that I had to close the window by my head again, and I was comfortable covered with the sheet.  The thermometer in my bedroom said 73 when I woke up, which is tolerable sleeping weather, in my opinion.


So I will hunker down in my field and hope it cools down (it's forecasted to) before I have to head south.  I had some thought of going to town this week, since I forgot to buy one kind of cat food, but it just isn't worth it.


Today is breezy and nice but humid again, but the haze is beginning to clump together to make clouds, and we may get some rain tonight or tomorrow.  We need it. This has been a very dry summer.


It's been a while since I've posted any sunset pictures, so I took a couple last night.  Here is one from outside the office, and here is one from outside my bedroom.  It was a lovely evening.


Poor DC has apparently decided he isn't coming out until I close the windows.  He has holed up on a blanket in the laundry room, and he only comes out to pee and (occasionally) eat.  The noise of the bulldozer and the strong winds have apparently really freaked him out.  I feel sorry for him, but he does still seem to be eating, so we will just have to have patience.  


Buster has taken advantage of the situation to turn into a real companion cat.  I figured all along that one of his problems is that DC is top cat and he's jealous.  Of course, he wants a lot more attention than DC needs, so he is still something of a pest.  Curiously enough, the noise only bothers him when it's going on, and he sleeps in the closet anyway.  I have been leaving the closet open since I closed him in it one day, and I made him a nice shelf with two pairs of jeans that don't fit, so he is quite comfortable. 


We'll see how DC is when the windows get closed.  I may have to consult Jackie again.  She has been a pet sitter for so many years that she knows all the tricks cats can pull on you.


So I will sit and enjoy my lovely breeze and my lovely view and hope we don't have any more days like Sunday.


August 6

I don't mean to complain about the weather, but when I went to dinner last evening it was 92 and the humidity was around 80% (really).  Anyway, the Weather Underground said the heat index was 102.  It certainly felt like it.  It was nice to sit in an air conditioned place for a couple of hours.


I find that the heat tires me out and makes my feet swell, so I took a nice tepid shower and went to bed early...and sweltered.  There was a breeze, but it was a hot one, and the temperature in my bedroom was 86 - much too hot for me to sleep comfortably.


I did finally fall asleep for a couple of hours, but when I woke up it was still hot.  Along about 3:30 or so the wind shifted toward the west, but it took another hour or more before it began to cool down.  We had a minor gale for a few hours - both cats ran away, and I think they thought they were going to be blown off the bed.  I finally had to shut the window closest to my pillow just to get any sleep at all.


So I didn't get very much sleep last night and it feels like it.  Today was better, temperature in the low 80s and humidity in the 60-65% range.  It's still awfully damp, but the breeze has been nice.


The sky has been clear and blue all day, and it feels so good to have that lovely breeze wash over me.  I didn't want to do much of anything, so I didn't.  I really need to finish another pillowcase or two just to be sanitary, but I opted out.


I did start out the morning by rushing outdoors in my nightgown to yell at the guy delivering another 25 or so yards of topsoil - he was going to dump it right in the middle of the driveway, where I would never be able to get out. And the landscapers are all in Mackinaw all week.  Some people are...well, never mind.  Why Adam had the topsoil delivered today, I do not know.


The forecast is for slowly moderating temperatures, but after reading the heat warning on the Weather Underground, I am glad for more reasons that I live beside the water.


Sleeping should be better tonight.  The breeze is nice but not gale-force, sunset should be pretty, and maybe I'll get to see the moon set tomorrow morning.


I have to say that I more or less expected weather like this just to welcome me to the realities of Copper Harbor.  Fortunately, it has only been that hot a couple of times.  I still remember the spring of '88, when it was 105 on July 4, and the entire time we were here was in the 80s.  That was also the trip when the air conditioning quit in Munising going home, and the temperature in the truck was 120 when we got to Detroit.  This isn't like that at all, and I think I can stand it.


August 5

Well, it's hot.  The temperature is in the middle 80's and so is the humidity.  The only thing that saves it from being totally unbearable is the wind.  it's out of the south, but at least it's blowing.  My decision to put ceiling fans in all the rooms has been vindicated.  So long as I don't do very much, I can stay cool (what a good excuse!).  At intervals the sky darkens like it might rain, but so far nothing.


The landscaping is about 75% done, and I'm still wondering what I've gotten myself into.  Those are big beds, and there isn't any way I can get away without some grass.  The rest will be done while I'm in Detroit, which is not exactly what I'd hoped.  Getting them back after I return could be really hard.  It also looks like I will be putting a fortune into wildflower seeds to seed the back part.  Somehow, I just could not convince Adam that I like the red pebbles, so they are all covered with topsoil.  I'm not even talking about how much topsoil they used - and they aren't done yet.


Friday morning was a crunch time, for sure.  The landscapers were here, the tile man came (what a farce that was!), my ugly chair arrived, the lady came to measure for the bedroom blinds and in the middle of all this, Phoebe came with a guest to show off my house - all before noon!  Besides, from having to get up at 7am all week, I was running such a sleep deficit that I was headachy and grumpy all day. 


I met Shirley and her California daughter Barbara at dinner, and they came back and made the upstairs beds for me!  What nice people.  At least that's done, and I have a better idea of what kind of bedding I'm lacking.  Anyway, it's taken me two days to recover...and now it's hot.


The chair is a success. Even though it's ugly, it's still one of the most comfortable chairs I've ever had.  It will be even more so when the ottoman arrives.  It supports the center of my back beautifully, yet it's straight enough that I will be able to embroider or knit or read in it without a problem.


Since I've been staying close to home since Tuesday, I don't have many pictures to share.  I was so tired, coming back from town on Tuesday that I didn't stop along the Cliff Drive to try to get pictures of the flowers I saw.  Maybe I will do that this week, if it cools off at all.  However, I went out onto the deck the other morning to see how my pond and waterfall were coming, and there was an incredible yellow spider crawling up the railing.  I guess I never knew that spiders came in such bright colors:  I don't think there's a Peterson Field Guide to arachnids - or anybody else's either.


I guess I never mentioned the neon green spider that landed on my hand one afternoon as I walked out the front door.  It was only about an eighth inch in diameter, but it was so bright it was impossible to miss.  Unfortunately, I didn't know how to make it sit still while I got the camera, so I couldn't document it.


When the landscaping is done or it cools off, I will take some pictures.  I guess that in order to cover all the topsoil in back I am going to have to spend a fortune for wildflower seeds.  I did a little surfing (a little - ha! - it took me all afternoon and I'm not done yet!) yesterday, and wildflower seeds aren't cheap.  I still want to check some of the bigger seed companies before I go and order it.  Apparently I may need between 5 and 10 pounds to cover the area!


The cats did  not like the bulldozer going all day every day last week, so they went away and hid, and for DC Friday was just the last straw.  All weekend, he has run away and hid when I got up in the morning - didn't even stop to eat breakfast! - and not come out until late in the evening, even though it has been really quiet around here for the past two days.  Well - here, anyway.  They are having a Civil War encampment at Fort Wilkins that started yesterday, and periodically they shoot off the cannons.  It's a loud noise anyway, but then it echoes off the hills.  Not something to sleep through.  So I haven't seen poor DC except at night.  Probably just about the time he gets over it, I'll leave for Detroit.

Last updated 08/04/11 08:45 PM