A View From the Field









March 28

Just a short entry, because it's been a long time since I wrote anything. Nothing earth-shaking has happened, so there didn't seem much to write about.


We had a snowstorm Tuesday. I had just decided to take a short trip to the supermarket when it began snowing, and by the time I got back an hour later, there was an inch of snow on the ground. I scraped it off around the patio and back steps, and by the time Marty got here after dark, you couldn't see where I had shoveled. By the time I went out to the doctor late Wednesday afternoon, it was mostly melted. It's now back in the 40s and smells like early spring.  Of course, in the meantime, all the roses have probably frozen, because as soon as the gardeners took the hay away, the temps went down into the teens. Oh, well. I won't be around much to see them anyway.


My internist, Dr. Schade, seems to think he will be able to come up with my vaccinations, so that was a profitable trip. He also suggested that maybe a little physical therapy would help my back.  I guess I will try it and see. I suspect the pain down my leg is what wakes me up in the night sometimes.


I didn't do myself any good yesterday anyway. I finally got things moved around in the sewing room so I could cut out a polar fleece top, but even though I have a stool, I end up standing a lot when I am cutting, and by the time I got to choir practice, my back was killing me. It's better today, but then I didn't stand as much today.


Cutting out a garment always takes me a long time, because I usually spend a lot of time measuring the pattern and laying the pieces out.  Then I spend quite a while today hunting for the spool of thread that matched a bobbin. The top I am making is a pretty print - snowflakes in various shades of teal - but nobody makes thread that color anymore, so I had to search for an old spool. Fleece is pretty easy to sew in, even though it's thick, but I spent most of the afternoon trying to get the collar put on and the zipper matched up right. I guess I'm too picky, and the collar actually didn't come out as nicely as I wanted, but it will be all right, and I'll keep working on the technique.


So it came to be about 4:30 and I quit. The sleeves and the final sewing will have to wait till tomorrow between church services.


I was part of the morning choir crew today, which was convenient. There weren't very many people there, but I know they are all people who wouldn't come at night, so it was all worth it. There were only six ladies, but I think we sounded all right, and I'm sure the morning people were happy to have some music.  


Tomorrow there is a service at 1:00 (no choir) which I will go to because I like it, and then Tenebrae tomorrow evening. Bruce always comes up with at least one absolutely gorgeous piece for Good Friday, and I have always enjoyed that service anyway.


Sunday morning, we have to be at church at 7:30, and the service starts at 8 - not exactly daybreak, but close enough. I will never forget the Easter right after my very first chemo treatment. I just made it before we started to sing, and I felt sort of spaced out for the entire morning. Then a couple of years ago, Easter was the day we went on daylight savings time, so it was actually more like 7am. At least that isn't happening this year.  It's a wonder any of us, especially the sopranos, can croak at that hour of the morning, but there are a surprising number of people at that service (there's communion, too), and they deserve their Easter music.


I don't expect to be too bright by evening, but it would be nice to end up the month.


So nothing but the ordinary has been going on, and I have to get the trash out tonight, so I will wrap this up.


March 15

Well, that was interesting! I had just about completed a rather long entry, when I tried to send a picture to somebody, started getting errors right and left, and lost everything. So I will start over. I wonder what I wrote? It seems that Windows Explorer is the weakest link in Windows ME, and I seem to be exercising it excessively lately, with very bad results.


Anyway, things just didn't work out for me to do an entry until today. Besides the doctor Tuesday, I shopped for food, then spent the rest of that day plus quite a bit of Wednesday gathering my taxes together, and yesterday I gave the taxes to my accountant. So, in order...


Dr. Lehman said very little except come back next month, and he can't find my diphtheria/tetanus and polio shots. We also discussed the MediPort again, and unless U of M has some objection, if I can find somebody in Keweenaw to flush it, I may just leave it in. So that is still up in the air. It's sort of like a security blanket, and since it doesn't bother me, if I can take care of it properly, I'd just as soon keep it.


So I called my internist's office and discovered that apparently there is a shortage of those two vaccines, partly because of our state of emergency, they think.  I will see him at the end of the month, and maybe he can figure something out. Otherwise, I will lay it on U of M and see what they say, since they were the ones who wanted me to get it.


Fortunately, I didn't have too much trouble getting the taxes together, and I like Nancy, except that she lives about 45 miles away, in West Bloomfield, and that is a hike from here. People drive just as weirdly out there, too, except that there are more of them.


When I saw her last year, somebody had missed a curve and hit the front corner of their attached garage and mangled it. When it came time to repair that, they decided to do some major renovations, so they opened up their kitchen into the dining and living rooms, and got all new cabinets and appliances. It is a very nice light area, and they did a lovely job.


All the kitchens I've seen lately - Debbie's, Diane's and now Nancy's have granite countertops in various colors, and they are very pretty. Every time I wonder if I didn't make a mistake in Copper Harbor, I remember that the only thing other than Formica that comes in white is marble (or Corian, which I wouldn't want), and marble is a pain to take care of. I haven't seen a color of granite yet that I would want in that kitchen, so I will be content with my white Formica.


Today I embroidered longer than usual, and finished the geometric design I was working on. If it's sunny again tomorrow, I'll take pictures. I had been wanting to make a second beaded tassel scissors keeper, so I decided to do that this afternoon, and it was a mistake. I had all kinds of trouble, including cramps in my hands, but after considerable fooling around, I have only to untangle the strands to get it right. If I do that, I'll take pictures of the scissors keepers, too. I bought a tool that is supposed to help making tassels, but it certainly didn't help me today! I finally left it for tomorrow.


I've been wanting for a while to put together a page that illustrates how the sun is moving north, and after seeing today's live cam pictures, I was motivated. They had another 13 or 14 inches of snow over night, and it snowed almost until noon, but by 2:30 or so, the skies had almost completely cleared up. So I added the sunset picture to my stash, and came up with this. Tonight's picture looks like it did in September (of course - the equinox is Wednesday). By the time I get there in May, sunset will be out of the picture on the right, behind the lighthouse, and the setting sun will be shining on my pillow in the bedroom. Already the sun is setting 20 minutes later in Copper Harbor than it is here, and the days will soon be a lot longer than they are here.


I was also motivated to write this entry by the last picture from the camera tonight. When I first saw it, I thought the bright thing was Venus, but after I looked at Sky & Telescope's weekly sky map, I realized it is the thin crescent moon, and Venus is the dimmer point below and to the right of it. Oh, how I wish the camera focused! Oh, how I wish I was there (even though I'd have to snowmobile in and out!)!


This gives me hope that I will be able to photograph the conjunction of the five naked eye planets that is going to be happening the first couple of weeks of May. I may have to go up to the top of Brockway to do it, but it would be fun to try. I've only seen Mercury once (from room 34 of King Copper), and it would be great fun to get all five planets together. Of course, as I recall, last year the entire month of May was cloudy and rainy, so I will try not to get my hopes up too much.


I also have hopes that if I replace the camera with a better one, I will be able to automatically capture a lot of other sky events, like the full moon and the planets.  That is, if the weather cooperates... Two months and counting...


I'm going to get this thing saved and published before I lose it again!


March 11

Gosh, two in a row! What's going to happen?  I need to try to get back in the habit, and besides there were a couple of things I forgot to mention yesterday. That in itself is a good reason to try to write a little every day.


One thing I wanted to comment on was the birds. All the warmish weather we'd been having faked out some of the summer birds, and there were grackles and starlings around all last week, and Sunday when it was so cold and windy, there was a very cold looking grackle pecking around under the pear tree. Both today and yesterday, I saw the first song sparrow of the season. Yesterday, he had his feathers so fluffed up that he almost looked like he had no head, but it was warmer today, and he was pecking around the patio. He is a cute, round little bird. The real sparrows - song, white-crowned and white-throated are the three I usually see in the spring - won't eat from the feeder. I wish I could put some seed on the ground, but there were a couple of pigeons around yesterday, too, and I know from experience that if I start spreading seed on the ground, pretty soon I'll have a whole flock of pigeons eating everything the squirrels leave.


On that subject, there was a mom-to-be black squirrel under the feeder today. I know that because she had plucked herself bare down to her hips, and this one had also plucked a line right down the middle of her back, the first time I've ever seen a squirrel do that.  I think I  have a whole colony of black squirrels in the spruces beside the house, and they are the ones that use the pear tree for a front porch. There were two of them up there yesterday when the sun was out. I think those were males, and they seem to have very nice coats and be in good shape. It's a wonder the wind didn't blow their nests right out of the tree! That has happened - one windstorm last fall, after it was over, there was all kinds of grass and leaves and things on the deck behind my bedroom. 


As for the tree, the head gardener showed up today and he thinks it won't be too hard to tilt the tree back upright and guy it down. Finding something to attach the block-and-tackle to won't be trivial, since the telephone pole looks like it's been there since the house was built, but there is a huge Norway spruce in the next yard, and they can probably use that. Apparently there are some nice long pegs that screw into the ground for several feet, so two or three of those should keep it upright. Darrell had no problem with doing it, which I was glad for. I've had it with guys who garden with chain saw and bulldozer. I can also see a rather large bill ahead...


I talked to Tish this morning, and it was still snowing in Copper Harbor. Evidently, Rainbow's End ran on the generator most of the weekend, which is why the camera was working. The only problem with that was that when Tom went in to switch back to UPPCO last evening, the entire house was full of propane fumes. I hadn't thought about that, but there is a lot of snow around the generator, and I suppose that prevented the fumes from venting properly. Some new arrangement will have to be made, because while I hope not to have to use the generator that much, if I do, I don't want the cats and I to be inhaling propane fumes, either. 


Apparently the road is closed now, and Tom had to go out on his snowmobile - and he got stuck down in the gully coming back. I'm not sure whether the contractor is still working in the house out on Superior Drive, but if they are, maybe they'll open the road.


I spent the early afternoon paying some bills and hassling the insurance company about a bill from November 2000, and it slipped my mind that I should take a picture of the leaning spruce tree before it gets fixed. i will try to do that tomorrow before I go to see the doctor. After I see the doctor, it's time to lay in some supplies - cat food and me food - so I won't be home for a while.


So that pretty much cleans up after the excitement of the weekend. While it's still winter, it is almost the middle of March, after all, so spring is on the way. I could smell it last week when it was warm.


March 10

One of my correspondents emailed me, worried that I hadn't updated the journal lately, so I guess I am duty bound to do one. Actually, I had planned to do one tonight. 


For one thing, after some conversation with Charlie Hopper, it is now possible to email me at s_i_smith@aviewfromthefield.com. George Hite has moved his site to PastyNet, and he can do something like that, so why can't I? I think it's neat, but that led to a discussion of some of the properties of email addressing (which I still don't understand very well), and after that, suddenly I can send replies to people who email me at PastyNet without changing the "from" address in the message. How in the world that happened is totally beyond my understanding. Two days ago, it didn't work. I still subscribe to the Murphy's Law that says "Experiments should be reproducible - they should fail in the same way". I get just as nervous when things that didn't work suddenly do as I am when things that used to work don't. Eventually it will get straightened out, but in the meantime I am slightly puzzled.


I haven't written anything because there hasn't been anything much to write about. All is quiet on Champine...except for the weather, of course. That has been really crazy both here and in Copper Harbor.


Friday, the temperature topped out at 65, just a crazy temperature for mid-March. At the same time, there had been something like 18" of snow in Keweenaw, with more on the way. Saturday, it was in the mid-50s in the afternoon, but the wind started to blow, and after dark the temperature just plummeted into the low 20s, with very strong winds.


I found out how strong the winds were when I looked out back this morning and discovered that one of the two 50' spruces that divide the front and back of the back yard had tilted out of the ground and is now leaning against the other one. The ground isn't frozen, of course, and it is very soggy, what with the rain and snow and whatever we've had lately. There is a Norway spruce just to the west of the fence, and I would have thought that would break the wind, but no such luck. I will have to get on the phone to my gardeners tomorrow early and get someone out here.  I do not want to lose either of those trees!


I think the wind is dying down some now, but it is still cold, and there were little snow squalls all day. That's here.


In Copper Harbor, the snow had gotten over a foot deep on the deck, so the other morning, somebody shoveled it off...then Friday they had an actual snow day, only the second one this winter, and there is now another pile. This one is drifted, and it looks like the corner outside the office is almost bare, because Thursday night and Friday morning they had a real blizzard.  I was surprised that the camera was still up Friday. It certainly wasn't Saturday!  The power went out shortly after 7 and it was mid-afternoon before we got it back. It then went out again - they had 46mph winds with gusts to 57 reported at around 9 pm, and that's over in the hole where the NWS station is - and didn't come back until 1:30 or so this afternoon. I hope I didn't lose anything more off the house.


This  has certainly been a weird six or eight months of weather!  What we had the past few days is what we should have had in December or January - minus the 65, of course. Copper Harbor should have more than the inch or so of ice on it - and the channel is still open - and they should have gotten more than the 200" of snow they've had. Really crazy.  It also should have snowed more than the trace I saw before I left last fall, too.


Well, maybe after we get over this month, the year will be a little more normal. I could tolerate a late spring, and I could certainly go for a cool summer.


As to what I've been doing, I finally got fed up with slipping on all the magazines and catalogs on the kitchen floor, and I spent a couple of days sorting and bagging and took a whole barrel of them out to be recycled on Friday. Now all I have to do is get the piles in the living room out, and I will be pretty much down to one box full, which I may be able to keep more or less under control. I took the weekend off, but next week I hope to get the counters cleared off and cleaned up and the floor vacuumed (carpeting in the kitchen is the pits, I say again!). The interior wall of the kitchen is still a disaster, full of empty boxes and bags of stuff I brought back from up north, but if I can get the working end cleaned up, I can start on the other end. 


I keep reminding myself that in about 8 weeks now I'll be starting north, and I'd like to try to leave this house a little neater than I did last year. Not clean, maybe, but neat. We shall see. I still haven't faced the question of all the stuff that is on a different floor from where it belongs. I have enough trouble doing stairs unencumbered. When I have boxes, I have to back down the stairs and move the box one step at a time, hanging onto the railing in between.


Since I said I would take pictures, there hasn't been enough sun to really do it. The Just Nan people were very gracious about letting me post the sampler, so now all I have to do is get the pictures.  


After fooling around with various things for a day or so, I started another of a series of geometric designs by Amaryllis Artworks, this one called "Vibrant Woodland". It's fun to stitch, but I don't like it quite so well as the first four. It is a little square thing, and I'm doing the last bands around the outside now, so it will be done soon. I will take a picture of that, too, when it's done.


Unfortunately, I acquired a new game yesterday, called "Collapse", and like "Bejeweled", it's addictive.  I'm sure I will get tired of it, like I am of "Bejeweled", but in the meantime, it's a great time waster. It's the kind of thing that would give me tendonitis in the mouse hand again if it weren't for the trackball.


So I am keeping occupied, and time is passing. I see Dr. Lehman on Tuesday, and I expect I will report on that. Eight weeks and counting...


March 1

Well, March has rolled in, and today was cold but sunny here, but in Copper Harbor there was everything from serious snow squalls to sunshine! So those who subscribe to the Lion/Lamb theory will be able to take their pick. I guess we are all in for more winter over the weekend and next week, and that is not at all surprising. Even in the most benign winters, we've tended to get some of our worst weather of all in the first two weeks of March.


When I rolled over the journal, I remembered that one of the things I must do is reset both of my calendar watches, or tomorrow will be the 30th of February, which is disconcerting at best when one is trying to write a check with the correct date.


I also noticed that on the first of February I promised to take a picture of the yarn swift for those who don't know what that is. The ninth sock is almost done, too, so sometime over the weekend I will try to take a few pictures. The Sock Project has gotten prolonged by some of the other things I've gotten into, and that will probably continue.


Bernie and Diane and I share a tax accountant, Nancy, and she was at the funeral home, and she suggested kindly that it is time I got the taxes together, so I will have to see if I can do that. I think I have all the documents, so it is just a matter of organizing them and checking to be sure I have everything. Even with a professional doing the hard work, tax time still makes me nervous.


And the other day, I got a notice of reassessment from Grant Township (no surprise there - I was only surprised they didn't do it last year!). It actually isn't bad - about three times what it was for last year, and no way near the actual value of the property, so I really can't complain.


This morning I finally finished the last band on a little sampler called "Winter Blues". I intend to post a picture, but it occurred to me that it is a copyrighted design, so I am asking them for permission before I take the picture.  I know I've done it before, but it really isn't right, and I don't plan to do it in the future.


"Winter Blues" is a very small sampler, all in shades of blue silk, and it's quite pretty. After all the birds, I feel that I want to do mostly smaller projects that can be finished in a week or two.  I have a bunch, so I'm hoping I will be turning things out fairly rapidly for the next couple of months, while I ponder what to take back to Copper Harbor with me.


Today has been a quiet day, with all the stitching and not much else going on, so I will mark March 1 and get this posted.


Last  updated 08/04/11 08:45 PM