A View From the Field
Well, here we are at the end of May, and I've been here three weeks already. Amazing. Time certainly flies!
It was another beautiful day today, and the temperature got up into the upper 60s. There was a stiff wind out of the west -they said 14mph with higher gusts, but I think it was stronger here - and whitecaps on the harbor. It was pretty. Now it's calmed down some and it's sort of cloudy.
The real disadvantage of the place I hung the bird feeders became clear today. They are not shielded from the wind at all, and they were blowing around wildly. In fact, the wind blew the last couple of ounces of nectar out of both hummingbird feeders, so I refilled them tonight. The only birds of not were goldfinches and blue jays, and in another day or so I will have to refill the finch feeders. Good thing I got a lot of thistle seed. Right now there is a brave little chipping sparrow in the big feeder, hanging on for dear life. He has a reddish-brown crown, and several times the wind - or something - has caused it to raise up like a brush cut and make them look really strange. They are a funny shaped little bird anyway, with a head that looks too small for their bodies, and this brush on top of their heads makes them look quite comical.
So for another day I didn't do much. It's just too tempting to sit and look at the birds and the computer. I'll have to try to do something over the weekend: Philippe is supposed to come Tuesday, and I don't want him to see this place in quite such a state of disorder.
The warmth has definitely brought out the bugs. I was sitting in my car after dinner tonight, looking at the paper, when a Keweenaw Eagle-sized mosquito landed on my hand. If it wasn't so windy, it would be even buggier. I was looking back at last year's journals, and except that the bugs are later this year, it's about the same. The dragonflies haven't arrived yet, either.
Oh, yes, on my way back from the mail run, I noticed something blue beside the road and when I stopped to look, the forget-me-nots are out, and flittering around the pretty blue flowers was a teensy butterfly - maybe half an inch wide - of exactly the same shade of blue as the flowers! I didn't have the camera, but until it gets fixed, I don't have much chance to capture things that small. The one thing I noticed is that the forget-me-nots are not nearly so tall as they usually are. Well - tall isn't exactly the right word, since they sprawl, but the stems were only about six inches long, and usually they're about twice that length. Probably has something to do with the late spring.
Lighthouse road and US41 between here and Copper Harbor are both really pretty now, with the juneberries, chokecherries, or whatever they are, all in bloom or almost in bloom. Many of them are bushes, but many are spindly trees up to about ten feet high, and there must be a couple of different kinds, because on some of them the emerging leaves are reddish, while on others the leaves are green or not out yet. For all my nature guides, I do not have a good one with adequate pictures of flowering bushes and trees, and all the bush and tree books I have are organized by taxonomic family and accessed by not-very-good keys.
It's a real frustration to me, because, as I've mentioned before in these journals, I have an insatiable desire to know what the things I see are. I've done a pretty good job with the birds and the wildflowers, but the bushes and trees are a real trial.
I just realized that one of the few remaining evergreens in the back yard is probably a jack pine. I've been calling it a red pine, but the needles aren't nearly so long. I will have to inspect it more closely.
I guess I haven't mentioned, either, that my attempt to plant wildflower seeds last fall may not have worked very well. So far all I see coming up in most of the places I sowed the seeds is wild mustard, and I know I didn't plant that! I won't give up yet, though, because it's early, and I remember last year I thought I didn't have any daisies, and I did. Those daisies all got uprooted, unfortunately, but maybe I'll be lucky and get some more. Stay tuned...
Well, I got to bed too late last night, so I will get this published and trundle off to the north end...
Well, I got drenched when I left for town this morning, and I got wet again coming back from dinner tonight. In between, it was actually sunny at times. This is the kind of weather that is usually in the upper 70s or low 80s, with 90% humidity in Detroit, but here, except for the water coming down, it was a pretty nice day. Right now we are having a little thunderstorm, nothing serious, but a gust of wind blew my car door shut just after I got my legs into it, which was pretty good timing, since I'd have had awfully sore legs if the door had closed on them with that force!
I was absolutely amazed by the way the trees have leafed out since Tuesday! It really is amazing what a little warm weather will do. The drive down to town was lovely, with all the deciduous trees every shade of pale green and bronze imaginable. The juneberries and other early flowering trees are beginning to come out, too.
It was pouring rain when I left, so much so that I was still wet when I got to Houghton, an hour later! The rain was just in the harbor, although it was cloudy all the way south. Temperatures were in the 60s, though, so it was nice. It had cleared up some by the time I left this afternoon, but the clouds came back as I drove north, and Lake Medora and the hills around it were full of fog.
My trip to town was a fast one - no lunch - and I did pretty much what I had intended to do. The only problem I have is that I got a huge and very nice bird feeder at WalMart, and when I took it out of the box to put it together, I discovered there were no perches for the feed holes. Since the birds I want to attract to it all perch, it is useless and I will have to take it back. It didn't look like it had been opened, so I don't know what happened to the perches, but they aren't in the box.
I got a Coleman cooler, the same size as the broken one. After two Igloo coolers, one of which broke, and the other one that doesn't keep things cold very long, I'm ready to try another brand. It's red, unfortunately, but the blue one was a 70 gallon one with no wheels, and it wouldn't have fit into the car with everything else. The one with wheels was smaller and it was also a funny shape. There was a Rubbermaid one, about the same size as the one I got, but it was red, white and blue, and I just didn't think I needed that.
So I got lots of thistle seed, and some cookable food for me, and I headed home before 2:30. I don't think I forgot anything this time, although one of these days I'll have to take the feeder back. My Mediport should be flushed sometime in the next two weeks, so I will be going to town again soon.
I am sorry to report, however, that the tourists are here. Another guy and I followed one down 41 this morning who slowed down for every curve and never got up to 45mph, which is the speed limit. At least he was astute enough to see that he had two people riding his tail and pulled off at Mac Frimodig park so we could go by. The stretch between Ahmeek and Calumet is always a trial, at least at the hours I go through, because, as I mentioned the other day, there always seem to be some people driving at the speed that used to be posted, rather than what it is today. At least between Calumet and Hancock there is a mile or so of 4 lane, so with a little patience, one can get around the really weird drivers. However, I almost missed the open post office this afternoon because I got behind somebody going about 35 all the way from the fort to town (the limit is 45). He turned down to the post office, too, but I don't think he got out of his truck. I didn't stay to see.
I am happy to say I was moving a little better today, and walking wasn't such a trial. I am going to have to take myself in hand and try to walk for a few minutes every day, just to try to get back into shape. If only I could then sit down without freezing into position, it would be much better. Nobody I've talked to has come up with a solution to that.
One of the other things I got at WalMart was a lot of bubble wrap, which annoyed me. I have tons of the stuff at Champine, but it's all down there - I don't have much at all up here. So I will get the camera packed up and sent off to Nikon and hope it won't be gone long.
The rain just rolled away to the east and the sun stabbed out, something that frequently happens at sunset around here. I tried to capture it with the live cam, because as I am writing this, it has faded away already. But for a minute the birch in the Millers' yard, which I can see out the south window of the office, was illumined by a beam of golden sunlight. Then Shirley called to say there was a beautiful double rainbow from King Copper, but of course, since I'm at the other end, I can't see them from here.
So tomorrow I really must put away all the stuff I've brought in here over the past week. It's getting to look just like Champine around here.
It looks to rain for a while tonight, so it will be good sleeping weather.
I am going to start this a little earlier tonight, because by the time I got it written and published last night, then got ready for bed, it was after 11pm, and I'd like to get to bed - and get up - earlier.
I actually didn't do much of anything today, leaving all the stuff I brought home yesterday right where it was. Oh, well. It isn't going anyplace.
I spent a lot of time looking at the birds. The birds of the day are: red-breasted nuthatches, female rose breasted grosbeaks (boy, would I love to see the males!) both male and female evening grosbeaks, and pine siskins (that is what I thought was a female something - some probably are, because both sexes look alike). The siskins like the thistle seed as much as the goldfinches do, and for a while the thistle stockings were just covered with birds. Neat. There are a lot of female rose-breasted grosbeaks around, so I guess that somewhere, sometime, I will see the males, too. The nuthatches are quite shy and scare easily, and some of the bigger birds are real bullies. Not that there isn't enough seed for all of them!
I will have to fill the seed feeder tonight, because it is getting pretty empty. The hummingbird feeders are going down, too, but I haven't seen so many birds at them, and I think they all feed at the spigots on the back side of the feeders, where I can't see them at all.
The only additions to my life list were the siskins, which are little brown stripy things one wouldn't notice if they weren't at the feeder. They are supposed to have a little yellow on their wings, but actually, most of what I saw were their hind ends, as they crawled over the thistle feeders.
I wondered about those thistle stockings, but they are really great, much better than regular feeders, I think. The birds can cling to them anywhere at any angle, so more of them can feed at one time.
I discovered that I forgot a bunch of things at EconoFoods, so I am planning to go back to town tomorrow (sigh!) and I will do WalMart, too. I can get the thistle seed, and probably a cooler, there, and I want to check out their porch furniture. Maybe after I've been here a little longer, I'll be more organized and I'll only have to make that trek every couple of weeks.
I'm also considering getting another feeder, like the one I have the regular seed in. It wasn't expensive, and there will be more birds.
Boo! A nuthatch just tried to get a couple of seeds, and a bully chipping sparrow chased him away, even though they were the only birds around. I wish the birds, at least, could live in peace!
I also have to report that I got my first black fly bite yesterday afternoon while I was unloading the car. It is on my forehead - a fly crawled up under my hair and took a nice bite out of me! So today, as soon as I got dressed, I sprayed with Off! I hate the smell of that stuff, and it gets into my nose and really bothers me, but it does do the job, and I don't want to be bugged if I can help it.
Tonight I will rub the bite with Adolf's Meat Tenderizer after I take my bath, and that will take the itch out of it. Yup, that really works, even on the worst bites I've gotten. It has papayin (or however they spell it) in it, and not only does it work on black fly bites and mosquito bites, I understand they use it if Florida for man-o-war stings. Why you would go in the ocean when there were man-o-wars around, I don't know, but maybe they're not so easy to notice. I've never seen one. Anyway, the only problem I've ever encountered with the Adolf's is that it is mixed with salt, and at times I've had a lot of salt in my bed.
Like the time I walked through a field at the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore and ended up with a ring of bites around both ankles right above my shoetops - and I was wearing socks. Or any number of times when a nasty fly has crawled up my pant leg and bitten my shins...those are the worst of all, because there's not the best blood flow there and I tend to get huge welts that get all blistered. Very ugly, and I think once or twice they've gotten infected.
Well, I never claimed it was paradise. Close, but we still have bugs...
The thing is, it was another beautiful day, with temps in the upper 60s and a great day to be outside. So I spray myself with nasty-smelling bug spray and hope for the best.
All that reminds me that I discovered I don't have any antiseptic ointment here, either - I took it all home for some reason. I guess I'd better start making another written list, or I'll forget something else!
We did start out the morning with rain, and there was some fog in the harbor, but it soon cleared up and most of the day, including right now, was beautiful indeed. If the entire summer was like this, it wouldn't bother me. The flowering trees and the leaves are growing like mad, now that it's warmer, and it's getting really pretty around here. I wish I had a reason to head east, over into the Hiawatha National Forest, because I would bet that now the fields of trilliums that I saw last year are coming into bloom. I'll see how tomorrow is, and I might try to take a few shots of the marsh marigolds. They're a common flower, but they are so incredibly yellow they make a really pretty sight.
So I'll get this published, fill the feeder, and try to get to bed at some kind of reasonable hour.
It was an absolutely, totally gorgeous morning this morning. While it was still in the 50s when I got up, by the time I left the house, it was in the low 60s, with blue, blue, blue sky and blue, blue water and a gentle breeze out of the south. I would like to have stayed here and just soaked it all up, but we were running out of cat food and coffee, and I decided it was time to lay in a few things to eat myself, although that didn't go so well. Besides, I was the only guy on US 41 and the Cliff Drive going in my direction, all the way to Ahmeek.
I got my just reward for that by getting behind a rather elderly person in a big car who was just going to Calumet and who followed the speed limits the way he remembered them, not the way they are now. But he turned off on M203 into Calumet, so the rest of my drive was pretty good.
There were a few clouds on the southern horizon by the time I got to Calumet, and it was hazy in Houghton and Hancock, but the temperature was in the upper 60s. Hotter in the car, of course. I seem to end up with dark colored cars, but I've often wondered if having a white one would make all that much difference in how it heated up.
I cannot walk at all. I sort of hobbled into the mall and shuffled around JoAnn's, and by the time I got out (with a side trip to the restroom, which is at the very, very back of the mall), I was all hot and sweaty just from weakness. I also realized that I have an ingrown toenail, which made it even harder to walk. I did want to go to Office Max for a couple of things, but I passed on WalMart. By that time, it was 1:30 or so and I needed to sit for a while, so I did my sitting at Ming Gardens and had a very nice lunch. Yum. I have only had their Sechuan specialties once, but I am going to have to get brave and do it again. The regular things are so good, though, that I have a hard time deciding. If it wasn't an hour or more away, I'd eat there more often.
Then there was EconoFoods, and I had a little list, partly written down and partly in my head. I did get a lot of TV-dinner type things, but not much else for me to eat. So I guess I'll be eating out - ha, ha! I got a lot of something, and my cart was full, but I spent under $200. So I guess it's all the fancy cheese and the shrimp and things that drives up my food bills on Champine. I've suspected for a long time that food prices are lower here.
People up here evidently eat a lot of pork, and a lot of chicken, but not very much beef. Last year, I got a "family pack" of really nice strip steaks that lasted me all summer, and I'd been hoping to find that again. I'll keep looking, but of course the day after Memorial Day isn't exactly the best time to find things like that.
When I opened the big cooler, both hinges broke and the top came off. It still sits on the bottom, but I don't think it's a tight seal, so I guess I'm just going to have to get a new big cooler. I probably contributed to its demise, because I removed the strap that kept the top from going all the way up. I did that because the lid kept falling down on my wrist and it hurt, but there was nothing to keep the lid from trying to bend all the way back, and when it did so, it pulled out all the screws. Not a good design, in my opinion. Over the weekend, somebody was advertising coolers with wheels for a good price. They also had one that looked like it was metal and was guaranteed to keep ice for 5 days in 90º heat, but I think they wanted $80 for it, so I guess I won't consider that one.
I wonder what people do with old coolers up here? I may just tote it back to Champine and throw it out there - what a cop-out! I know back in the "good old days", they'd just have found a cliff in the woods and pitched it over, but I wouldn't have done that then, let alone now. I shouldn't have a lot of stuff to take back when I go in July, so I guess that will work.
One thing I discovered along the way is that JoAnn's only carries 3" foam that is 24" wide, and my window seat is 28" x 75", so I am faced with a problem. I did order some tassels and get some fabric that will be all right for lining for the set of needlework accessories I'm going to make - but I got the wrong color of floss for the cording - grrrrrrr! I had the kit with me, and I could have checked, of course...
So eventually I made it home, and the mortgage papers were gone from between the doors, so I guess that worked. I wasn't going to stay home today just because FedEx was coming!
It was 76º outside and very warm and stuffy inside, so for the first time I was really able to open things up, and it felt wonderful, especially after I finally got the car unloaded.
The temperature began to drop soon after 5pm, and it's now down to a more normal 63º, but it was certainly the nicest day since I've been here. I guess we may be in for some rain over the next couple of days (very scattered, John says), but the high temps are supposed to be in the 60s here by the lake, and warmer inland, with lows in the low 50s. All that will be really nice. I already have a window open in the bedroom (east window in the window seat) and it's nice to have it cool at night.
The back doors and the slider in the great room, as well as the east window in the office, are still open, and I will leave them that way until I go to bed, just to sort of air out the house.
When I got sitting in the office, looking at my email and reading my snail mail, there were half a dozen goldfinches all over the finch feeders and the other seed feeder. I got regular bird seed - all the seed eaters seem to like black oiler sunflowers - but Econo doesn't carry thistle seed. Next time I go to town, I'll have to go to either WalMart or the feed store and lay in some niger seed. Those male goldfinches are so yellow right now they almost seem to glow!
Now that I have a good place for the feeders, I will have to make sure I put them out earlier next year, and maybe I can get some more migratory birds. Actually, I did see a white crowned sparrow the other day, but he and a lot of the other little birds simply will not eat out of the feeder, even with the tray on the bottom. The only way I could get them to come is to put a tray on the deck, and after the interested squirrel climbed down the doorframe Sunday, I guess I won't be doing that. The little red squirrels are cute (and I know some people around here feed them) but I know a little about squirrels, and I don't want to start something.
I'm just jealous that John Dee had an indigo bunting at his feeder two years in a row! No fair. But his habitat is probably more to their liking than mine.
The chipping sparrows have been regular visitors, and there were a couple of very stripy brown birds, about the same size as the goldfinches, in the finch feeders today. No idea what they were - female something-or-others, probably.
The hummingbirds have been regulars, enough that the feeders are almost half empty! And here I thought I'd probably have to throw away some nectar before they came. I should have known better: at this time of year, there is a shortage of the kind of flowers they like and they need something to eat!
Oh, yes, on the flower scene. The first bloom of the dandelions always seems to be better than later, and all along the roadsides, there were plenty of them. In many of the low spots and by the little streams, there were fields of marsh marigolds. I did take the camera, but without being able to use the close-up settings, I didn't even stop to try to take pictures. The juneberries and other early, white flowering trees are starting to come into flower, and now it will begin to get really pretty. Makes me particularly frustrated about the camera, but I will call Nikon on the telephone tomorrow and see what I have to do to get it fixed.
So that was my day, the first lovely spring day we've had in Copper Harbor since I've been here, and it was great to be out and about in it.
What a gorgeous day! Not too warm, at least not here on the shore of the great lake, but clear sunshine, blue skies, blue waters, and a gentle breeze. I guess I'm getting slept out, because I was up before 8am, but I didn't do much of anything all day but watch the birds and play with the computer. Oh, well.
Nobody hogged the feeders today, so there were a modest number of goldfinches, chickadees, blue jays, chipping sparrows, and hummingbirds stopping by all day long. The jays are bullies, and they chase away the other birds, but if I took the tray off to keep them away, there are other desirable birds who wouldn't come. I noticed that the hummingbird feeder farthest from the house was getting used most, so after dinner, I rearranged them a bit and switched the two feeders. It seems to have worked.
Dinner was at Harbor Haus again. I will try to keep it down to twice a week, but I figures Memorial Day was a special occasion. It was a beautiful night to be there. The winds are off shore this evening (southerly?) and the harbor is nearly calm, and from the dining room, the water was the palest shade of the color Superior is. This morning, it was a shade or two lighter than DMC 334, but I left my color cards at home, so I'm not sure. This evening, from Harbor Haus, it was something like 3753 - just barely off-white with almost no ripples on it except when the Isle Royal Queen came in.
It seemed so warm in the house when I got back (it is - upper 70s, from the sun) that I went out onto the deck and sat down on the stairs for a while. It's a little cool for just sitting, about 53º by my thermometer, with a slight wind, but while I was sitting there, I heard a strange bird sound and looked up into the birch on the south end of my property, and there was a kingfisher, as big as life, making this funny noise. I think it was a female, because I got a pretty good look at it and I couldn't see any rusty belt. So there's another bird for my life list. The only reason I could see it is that the leaves are barely showing, so all the branches of the tree were visible.
I also saw both male and female hummingbirds, and I discovered that hummingbirds make a very loud noise with their wings. I don't think I've ever been around any when they were hovering before, and it is so quiet around here that it seemed very loud.
Well - not pristinely quiet. Somebody is in residence at Rounovar's - probably their grandkids or maybe great-grandkids, they all looked young, and there is one real loudmouth. Always one in the crowd. They've gone in now, and it is so lovely and quiet.
I heard several birds I couldn't see, which I've always thought was unfair. If they're going to sound off, I want them to show themselves.
And on the way into town, at the sewer system waste ponds, there were two adult geese and I think about half a dozen goslings smaller than my fist. I came upon them suddenly and I was going too fast to see them well, but I'm sure that's what I saw.
On that subject, it's a good thing I've relearned how to drive straight while looking off to the side. Over the winter, driving on Lakeshore Drive, I almost went into the median - or the drink - a couple of times. Practice makes perfect, though, and I was doing much better on the trip up here. I'm glad to have that knack back, because the interesting things aren't very often in front of me up here, except for the two or three deer I almost ran down when I first got here...
Tomorrow I am going to town. I'm running out of important things like cat food and coffee, and I have a list of things I want to get at JoAnn's and Office Max, and maybe at WalMart, too. I will be interested to see if any more flowering trees are in bloom down toward Houghton, since it's been a little warmer down there than it has been here.
Which reminds me, when I read John Dee's journal and his reports on the weather, then read my reports, it's a wonder people don't question whether we're actually talking about the same area. But just those few miles away from the big heat sink (the lake) makes an enormous difference in the temperatures. It's cooler here in the summer and warmer in the winter, usually. Actually, even between here on the lighthouse peninsula and in Copper Harbor proper it's frequently 5-10º cooler when the wind is right. I like that.
So I will get this published and try to find my sunglasses (now when have I said that before...I should probably keep them on a string), and get the things together that I want to take along tomorrow so I won't be running around like a mad maniac in the morning.
Today started out with a lovely thunderstorm between 4:30 and 5:00am, and by the time I finally rolled out of bed, it was beginning to clear up. The day turned out to be a very pretty one, although it was quite windy in the afternoon, with whitecaps on the harbor. That wasn't too good for the birds, whose feathers were getting really ruffled.
When I checked the feeders on my way back to the other end of the hosue after breakfast, there was a very wet - something - sitting on the deck looking miserable. It was still there when I came back, after noon, and I spent some time looking through all the bird books before I finally decided that it is a female redwing blackbird, closer than I've ever seen one before. She is more spotted than striped, but very dark, and she has some apricot-pink areas on her throat. She is doing better now, but she has hung around the feeder all day eating like mad when the blue jays weren't there.
Oh, yes, the blue jays arrived in a flock this morning, and sort of took over the seed feeder. The chickadees started coming later, but it was really too windy for most of the day for the little birds, and they were a lot more timid than the chickadees on Champine. The goldfinches didn't show up when I was watching, and I only saw one hummingbird which didn't stay.
That is the only problem with the place I have put the feeders: it's rather exposed when the wind is from the northwest of west. But if I hung them in the grove in front of the screen porch, while they would be more sheltered, I couldn't see the birds most of the time. I think I will leave them where they are for the time being and see how well they are visitied. The other thing is, I think if I should be visited by bears, they would be less likely to bother the feeders where they are now.
I think this bear thing may be somewhat overrated, frankly. Maybe they are a problem out by Lake Glazon, or other places where there aren't many people, but I know Beulah North, who lives on Lake Fanny Hooe, has lots of feeders. I will have to ask her, the next time I see her in the post office, whether she has been bothered by bears or not. Anyway, I'm not about to not feed the birds just because somebody else may have a bear problem.
The only trouble with the feeders being where they are is that it's unlikely I will get my ugly chair back unless I boot DC out. He likes to sleep there, because at almost any time he can open his eyes and see a show outside.
With the wind from the northwest, or from the west as it is now, the town was 7 or 8 degrees warmer than it is here: we didn't get over 60, so far as I know, but when I went to dinner, it was 68º according to the thermometer in the car (how accurate that is, I'm not too sure, but it was noticeably warmer in town).
Dinner was at Harbor Haus tonight, and what a lovely night to eat there! It is clear and sunny and the water was that gorgeous shade of blue only Lake Superior gets. I can see that from here in the morning, but in the afternoon, the sun sort of washes the color out. Besides, my dinner was up to usual standards, and it cost me about half what it would have at Charley's Crab...and there were some people at the next table moaning about the price of the drinks! They don't know how lucky they are!
Not a lot is going on here, which is how I like it, although there was more traffic on the road today. I guess it's a little livlier in town, and on my way home from dinner, I was almost run down by two dirt bikes and an ATV that took off toward the end of the road at 55 or 60mph - somewhat over the speed limit, which is 40mph all the way from Lighthouse Road to Copper Harbor. So the summer people are here, even if summer isn't yet.
Well, I slept for close to 12 hours last night, and I felt some better today, so I think I will do it again and see if that helps.
What a temperature for Memorial Day weekend! It never got over about 44º today and it's now dropping back toward the 30s. It was cloudy and blah all day, too, although it didn't rain. Not a day I'd want to be camping at Fort Wilkins or on Isle Royal! Now, just before sunset, it's cleared up a little in the west, but it's windy and not very nice.
At least two people I've talked to about the bird feeders have warned me about bears, but I'm going to take my chances and hope for the best, because I was wrong about the chickadees - I haven't seen one. However, I've seen four or five goldfinches at once on the finch feeder, and in the middle of the afternoon there was some kind of little brown stripy thing there, too. It may have been song sparrow, but since it was clinging to the mesh eating thistle seed as fast as it could, I never did get a good look at it.
The hummingbird feeders are a great success, but I was wrong about the females yesterday. I don't think there are any females here yet, and all the ones I saw today were males. They are pretty little things, and in some lights I could even see their lovely ruby throats. They perch at the feeder, and sometimes they just sit and rest a while, or they fly into the pine and sit there. And they'll sit and drink and drink for over a minute at a time.
There was also a female goldfinch who camped out at the higher of the two finch feeders for most of the afternoon. She wasn't eating all the time, but she hung around for the longest time. She is gone now, but I'll bet she comes back tomorrow.
I got out my old 7x35 birdwatcher's binoculars, because they focus down much closer than the other pair, so I can sit in the desk chair and see the feeders close up. I also spent some time sitting in the ugly chair (at last!) trying to knit the sweater I left here over the winter, but that's hard because every time I sit there, somebody wants to sit on my lap.
DC was sitting and purring a little while ago when a hummingbird came to the feeder, and he actually jumped off my lap to go right up to the window to see it. He watched it intently even when it flew into the tree, and then he started looking around for more. I don't know if he's ever seen a hummingbird before, but I have the idea that if I can keep the feeders out all summer, they will be a constant source of entertainment for all of us.
I'm not so sure about Buster, though, because he seems more interested in the large birds, like pigeons and crows, although as I recall, they were both fascinated last year when the warblers started chasing the bugs in the corners of the house. I'm glad to see they have something to keep them interested.
Buster was thumping around in the great room for some time in the middle of the night, almost like he had a mouse, but I didn't see anything dead this morning, so I don't really know what he was doing.
This is turning out to be a rather short entry, but since I still have my cold, I didn't do much today but watch the birds, and I plan to go to bed early again and try to shake it. So I will get this published and trundle off to the other end of the house.
Well, after eleven hours (more or less) of sleep, I must say I feel better today. I think I do have a little cold, but it passed through the sneezing stage this morning and is now in the mending stage. A couple more days of lots of sleep and I should be over it. Or I hope so.
It was such a beautiful, sunny morning that even though it was cold, I hung out the bird feeders. I have to admit I was influenced by John Dee's site (again), but it occurred to me that if I hung the feeders in the birches in front of the porch, I would probably never see most of the birds that might visit. A far better place would be the white pine we fought so hard to save that is right beside the front corner of the office. If you've looked at the live cam all winter, you've seen the ends of a couple of its branches. I turned the camera a few degrees toward the south, and now you can see all the feeders. The view isn't very good in the late afternoon because the camera is exposing based upon the sky and the sun, but I think between sunrise and about 2pm, it will be possible to see birds.
I saw birds! The hummingbird feeders hadn't been out for more than an hour or two when they were visited, first by females, and later this afternoon by male hummingbirds! I feel like a success already. I've always wanted to have hummingbird feeders - and it turns out that I could have had them on Champine if I'd only known it when I was there full time - but I've never done it. There are so many people up here who feed birds that it's easy to find not only nice feeders with glass jars but hummingbird food that only has to be mixed with water to turn into nice red liquid. No boiling simple syrup or any of that mess.
I did discover, much to my dismay, that after they're filled, you have to be really careful to hold the feeders exactly upright, or you end up trailing sticky red liquid all over your floors...oh dear. I will be much more careful next time.
I am really happy that at least two hummers already know about the feeders. I was sure I'd have to dump them and refill them at least once before anybody would come, but evidently not.
The two sock-shaped things are finch feeders, full of thistle seed. I know there are goldfinches around here, so I thought I would try to attract them, too. The big feeder is for the seed-eating birds. It may take a few days this year before the chickadees come - I'm sure they or the blue jays will be first - but I know next year, they'll be in the feeder within hours of my putting it out, just like they are on Champine.
It's a shame I won't be able to feed them through the winter, and it would be really easy, if I was here, with the feeders right over the deck.
Today dawned crystal clear, but cold, and it didn't get out of the low 40s all day. It's nearly calm and under 40º, and it's supposed to get really cold tonight. It is so pretty out, but not a night when you'd want to dawdle on the deck.
Some little birds just dropped by and looked at the feeders, but they didn't stop to eat. So maybe I won't have to wait as long as I thought. Too bad I can't provide insect feeders for the insect eaters - well, around here I really don't have to do that, but the bugs aren't likely to line up in front of the windows where I can see them.
Which reminds me of the late June I sat in my car, about where I'm sitting right now only facing in the other direction, and watched a mama Magnolia warbler sitting in one of the birches stuffing grubs into her just-fledged baby. That was when the house was still a gleam in my eye, and it certainly added to my determination to do this thing.
It will take a few years before enough brush grows up to provide a really good bird habitat around the house, but now that there aren't people stirring around all the time, and it's mostly quiet outside, I think the birds will come back pretty fast. I know Buster is sitting right now looking out the back window like there is a parade going by - or he was until he yawned and started washing his face.
The other accomplishment of the day was to get my mortgages all signed and ready to send back. That only took two hours. It feels good to get that taken care of, and to get my monthly payments down to some kind of reasonable amount. I also had a very sore ear and a stiff neck, before I finally got it all done, but I understand what I signed.
I am going to have to snoop on the house that is being built out on Superior Drive. I've heard it's bigger than mine, and every hour or so all week a fair-sized dump truck has come rumbling down the road with a load of topsoil. So it looks like they are doing a little terraforming out there, and I know they've trucked in more topsoil that I did. The trucks are smaller than the ones that came here, but there have been a lot more of them! Frankly, I wish I could see more of my pretty red pebbles, but everybody has his own idea of what is appropriate for an area like this.
I think another early night is a good idea, so I will get this loaded and call it a day.
One of the reasons I've always appreciated weather in Michigan is that you just never know what it will do next. John Dee (who is more accurate than any of the others), the Weather Underground, the NWS - poo! None of them really know what might happen.
This morning was a continuation of last night, warm and sunny and breezy - a really beautiful spring day. By noon or so the temperature was in the low 70s. Then, whoosh! the wind shifted, the wind kicked up to gale force gusts, and now, at 8:30, the temperature is under 40º, the wind is howling out of the north, the lake is speaking loudly, and we're back where we were a few days ago.
For a while this afternoon, when the wind was coming in the length of the harbor (from the west), there were respectable whitecaps on the harbor and breakers on my beach. I could tell when it began to back northerly, because the harbor died down , but I could still hear the wind and the lake. Now the breakers are on the gull rocks and the part of the harbor around Fort Wilkins that is open to the lake. And Superior is speaking loudly. Oh, I'll sleep good tonight! With the windows closed, of course.
It's supposed to be relatively cool again over the weekend, but neither John nor I expect this to last too long. It is Memorial Day weekend, after all, and sooner or later the warmer temperatures and the bugs will hit us.
I do feel for the folks who were planning to spend the weekend on Isle Royal. It might not be too bad out there, but boy, I sure wouldn't want to make that trip in either the Ranger III or the Isle Royal Queen. Yuck!
The RVs, vans and canoes are beginning to pile into Copper Harbor, which means the end of our splendid isolation, and I will have to go on the summer regime. Harbor Haus opens this weekend, though, so I can go back to my old schedule. That means Sunday and Wednesday at Harbor Haus and Friday and Saturday at Mariner. Only over the past couple of weeks I've discovered the pleasures of Nachos Grande and Quesadillias (I guess I spelled that right), and so it's going to be a fight not to eat out more often...until the tourists start filling up the place. I know they keep the place in business, but I don't have to like it.
The leaves are beginning to pop out on the trees, too - finally! That just goes to prove that while the sun has a lot to do do with it, it still takes warmth to bring out the green. And it's such a pretty pale yellow-green, too. This may never happen again, so I'm enjoying the coming of spring to Keweenaw. Never mind that it's a month late. That only makes it nicer.
Well, due to circumstances beyond my control, my mortgages didn't settle today, so we will try again tomorrow. That was all right. While I was waiting, I got the last of the shipping boxes down into the basement and brought the birdfeeders up. The big feeder I bought last year turns out to need tools - a hammer and a pair of pliers - to put together, so I will do that tomorrow. I didn't want to try to hang feeders in the trees in this wind anyway, so the little birdies will just have to wait another day. I didn't buy as many hangers for the trees as I thought, so I will have to hang the hummingbird feeders off the deck railing and hope they are close enough to the trees that the hummers find them.
On the bird scene, the blue jays have finally arrived. I saw two of them today, one in my back yard and one on the way to town. I would have thought the migration was over by now, but I read in one of the papers that it is in full swing. The white-crowned and white-throated sparrows went through early, but I haven't seen or heard any warblers yet. I can only guess that it's a combination of sunlight and temperature for them, too.
I noticed, from the new Weather Underground layout, that while I was busy moving and settling in, Copper Harbor is now getting over half an hour more daylight a day than Detroit. It makes a big difference. Since we are so far out of the Eastern Time Zone (we're west of Chicago, after all), the sun is rising about the same time it does in Detroit, but it's setting a lot later, and this difference will continue well into July.
The sun just beamed out from under the cold, gray clouds and is shining full on the trees across the bay, all golden and lovely. I never get tired of looking out the windows!
Well, I have a suspicion I am fighting off a cold, so I will wrap this up and trundle off to bed early again, and see if that helps.
Finally! I got to open the windows this afternoon!
The morning started as clear and beautiful as the last two have been. The moon set around 4:30, and I could see it right down to the top of the trees over Porter Island, when it and its trail in the harbor were golden yellow. No, I wasn't sitting up watching it, but I had to get up several times last night, so every time I did I watched the moon go down. It is only about half full, but it was still wonderfully bright, casting shadows on the bed and leaving a wide trail on the water. The camera didn't catch it, since it doesn't wake up until after 5am, but it may before this lunar cycle is over, if we're lucky.
This morning, the sky was its beautiful blue and the temperature was around 50º when I got up. It was a beautiful day altogether, although it began to cloud up some this afternoon.
This afternoon, I spent a couple of hours with the ladies of town, who are really nice people. Several of them are very accomplished quilters, and two of them had brought their current projects, which were really nice. Almost, but not quite, made me sorry I left my quilt projects at home. I was heartened to find they machine quilt most of their things, so if I ever get to start the kit I bought, I won't feel bad about not quilting it all by hand. I can quilt, and not badly, either, but I haven't completely solved the problem of the needle sticking into my left finger (I mean, how else do you know you've gotten through all the layers?), and after a short while it gets so sore I have to stop.
I once free machine-quilted a piece of fabric for a headboard, so I guess I can probably machine quilt a pieced quilt. Someday, I'll have to try it and see.
When I got home from that, the temperature was 68º. and it felt hot and stuffy - and smelled closed up and nasty - in the house, so I opened the great room slider and two windows in the office, and it was lovely. When I left, Buster was sitting looking out the back window, where the trees and birds are, and right now, DC is in the same place, surveying the out of doors with great interest.
The first thing I heard when I opened the south-side window - the wind is from that direction - was a loon! So the loons are here, they're just sort of lurking around. Well - I have to admit I haven't spent a lot of time just staring at the harbor, so I may have missed them, but the calls were coming from the direction of Lake Lilly anyway, so they probably haven't been in the harbor.
I haven't seen the eagles yet, which is a disappointment, but I hope they'll be back. We do have about half a dozen turkey vultures which I've seen any number of times, including one sitting on a snag between the road and Lake Lilly the other day when I was coming back from the mail run. They are not a beautiful bird, for sure! However, they fly nice and they definitely have a place in the scheme of things.
Right now - about 9pm - it is perfectly silent except for the wind in the trees, and it is just heavenly. Poo on the radio. I will sit and listen to the silence.
It's cooling off some - it's down to 63º - so I will soon have to close the windows in the office and the west window in my bedroom, but I think I can leave the east window in the window seat open. Buster will like that, and it will keep it cool in my room, as well as let me listen to the outdoors. When It's too cool or rainy or something to have that window open from the bottom, I open it from the top, which is very handy.
I laugh at myself, because I haven't gotten over the delights of having fully functional double hung windows. Now I have them in both houses, and it's so nice not to have to hassle with 50s era windows, some of which, like the ones on Hillcrest, had been badly abused. But even the ones on Champine never worked properly from the time we moved in, and they were new then. Some things have been vastly improved in the last 50 years. I do sometimes wonder how long the plastic and foam in these new windows will last, but most likely it's longer than I will. All my windows are double pane low-E windows, too, so it's much warmer and much quieter than the old ones were - and no storm windows! Only my screen doors have storm inserts now, and both I and my window washers like that.
Window washers - ha! I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the windows here, because I wasn't exactly happy with the people who washed them last fall. Most of them don't need much except a little polishing, but I have evidence (ahem!) that there was a bird in the house over the winter (I must ask Philippe, since Tom said it wasn't here when he was here), and it sort of messed up the windows beside the fireplace, as well as the top of the lower window frame there, the camera, and several other window frames. On top of that, some large bird let fly when there was a west wind blowing, so I have a splotch on one screen and lower window in the great room. I may be able to do that one myself, although those panes are really heavy when they get tipped out. We shall see. Until it began to warm up, I wasn't worrying much about things like that.
Tomorrow, I must call around and see who will ship me some roses, or there won't be any this year. Some things seem to be growing where I planted last fall, although I don't see much evidence that all the wildflower seeds have germinated. There is green stuff in the dirt, but I think most of it is seeds that came with the dirt.
My other task for tomorrow, I think, is to close on the mortgages. FedEx "overnight" is more like 48 hours, but I should get the packages late tomorrow, and we will do the closing over the phone. I will be glad to have that taken care of. I got my ledger up to date yesterday, and I have been scratching my head over the amount of money that's flown out of my checkbook this year. Not a good sign, but maybe I can get some of it under control.
So since I've been having a terrible time typing, I will wrap this up and trundle off to bed.
Sorry for no journal yesterday, but I got to sit in the ugly chair (for only the second time since I've been here!) and by the time I moved, it was late. DC has taken over the ugly chair as his bed, and all the time I was sitting in it, he was either on my lap or whining. I really didn't buy that thing for his bed, but I can't tell him that. Then I got to playing games and listening to the radio - and after Orlando Gibbons' "O Clap Your Hands" came Brahms third and then Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, and in between there was a Schubert violin sonata with Isaac Stern. The moral of that story is, don't turn on the radio late in the evening, so I won't tonight.
I had had thoughts about going to town today, but since I got to bed so late, I got up late, and by the time I was ready to do anything, it was too late to go. Besides, I want to get the innards (and if I'm lucky, pre-made cording) for the cushions on the window seat, and in order to get cording and thread I have to have some idea about the color. I hope I can match the bedspread to a floss color, because I'm not planning to take the whole spread with me!
I guess I need to explain that. Before I moved in, I got a bedspread and a coverlet from The Company Store on sale, and it is a really lovely shade of pale blue. The plan is to use one (which one, I don't know yet) as the bedspread that won't ever be used, and the other to make cushion covers for the window seat and reupholster the little French chair. I would love to cover the bench in the closet, too, but I don't think even a queen size spread will give me enough material for all those things.
The bench in the closet really needs to be reupholstered in something. since a certain cat of my acquaintance tore the old cover and let out all the crumbling poly foam. It has a skirt on it which has been sprayed and torn, too, so it is really in need of some work.
Besides two summer nightgowns, two winter nightgowns, two fleece pullovers and a robe, my other major craft task for this year is to get the cushions made. I don't feel capable of doing the French chair myself (I can do simple upholstery, but this isn't simple), and I'm looking around for somebody to do it, but not until I make sure I have enough material left after I do the cushions. If I have to make my own cording, it's going to be tough, because I need over 16 yards of piping, and that means I'll have to use a big chunk of the spread. I'm really hoping I can get some pre-made cording that will either match or coordinate with the fabric. It's much easier that way! We'll see, but I need to know the color before I go to JoAnn's.
The other reason to go to town is for food, and I can last to next week before I run out of coffee. The General Store has coffee, but not Yuban, and I decided last year that I'm not going to fool around with anything else.
So I will try to get my act together for next Tuesday.
I find that I tend to lose track of time more up here even than I do at home. That's true of both hours and days. Days and nights just seem to flow by, and I need my watch or the computer to tell me when on what day and what date it is. I like it, but unfortunately some things, like bills and people in big cities, don't work that way.
I could also use my snazzy thermometer, which gets signals from the atomic clock, except that it doesn't pick up the time very well, and every other day it seems to be about 40 minutes fast. It must have something to do with the hills, since it worked just fine in Grosse Pointe. Besides, it doesn't say what day of the week it is.
Yesterday was cold but sunny, with a beautiful sunset, and it warmed up over night and actually got into the 50s today! It wasn't quite so clear today - there is a sort of haze in the sky, but it's much nicer now that it's warmer.
We had a fifteen-minute power failure today, and I'm happy to say the camera came right back up without human intervention. Just the few things I've done already has made it much more stable. I think I will wait to install the new camera until I find out what Nikon says about fixing the fancy one. I might have to use the new one off its base as my digital camera for a while.
So, you see, you didn't miss much because I didn't do a journal yesterday.
Oops, missed a day! Not that there was much to talk about except the weather. I got home from dinner with Shirley rather late last night and instead of writing a journal, I answered an email, then I went to bed.
Both yesterday and today were very cold, cloudy in the morning and clearing up by the middle of the afternoon. It was still clear when I went to bed last night, and around midnight, a cloud bank came up out of the west and covered up the moon. I think I may have seen some northern lights - sort of streaks in the north - but since the moon was there, even though it was behind a cloud, I'm not sure.
This morning, I got up surprisingly early and then did nothing much for the rest of the day. As I was getting ready to leave the bathroom, I looked out the window, and there were a few snowflakes drifting down. There weren't many, but gee, this is past the middle of May, already! Even in Keweenaw, it's a little late for snow!
It didn't get over 40º all day, by my thermometer, but the sun did come out, and it looks rather pretty out there right now. All afternoon, DC was sleeping in the ugly chair in the sun, and Buster has made a nice little nest for himself in the chair in the living room where I piled up the slipcover, also in the sun. I'd like to sit in the sun myself, but that would mean moving somebody who would then bug me to death to sit on me.
I did move some clothes out of the boxes yesterday, but I didn't today. Taking the weekend off, I guess.
Yesterday afternoon when it got sunny, I decided to take a little walk with the camera, but it turned out to be a very little walk, because my back was bothering me and after a little while the cold made my upper lip get numb, and I don't usually stay out for fun when that that happens. Besides, it seems that when the camera bounced on its head last fall, while it worked all right then, over the winter it has gotten worse and I can't use the manual setting (or the playback) any more. I have an email into Nikon to see how to go about getting it fixed, but in the meantime I am somewhat limited in what I will be able to take pictures of. I'll try using the close-up automatic setting, but if I remember correctly, that doesn't work very well because it is using the entire field of view to focus and frequently the background is perfectly focused and the thing I was trying to take the picture of is all fuzzy.
There aren't any flowers yet, anyway, but there were some willow catkins and birch catkins and maple flowers that I wanted to get pictures of. My neighbor Ginny's daffodils are just now coming out, so we are something like six weeks or more behind Detroit in the spring flowering! South of here, it's not so far behind, but the lake effect always makes Copper Harbor late, and this year it's just moreso.
However, as Shirley says, so long as it's cold there aren't any bugs - or any bugs to speak of.
I guess it's supposed to warm up into the 60s next week, which will be a nice change, and far more seasonal. Besides, it isn't supposed to rain next week, and that will be nice. Maybe I can get outside a little more. I think it was the cold that caused my back to act up (or I hope so!), and if it warms up, I will try to do a little more walking. I need to got to town next week, too, and that will provide some more walking.
So other than a pretty sunset tonight, it's been really quiet around here. Just the way I like it.
My, but it's cold outside! It finally cleared up late this afternoon, but when I got back from dinner, the temperature on the front door deck is 33º! That's a little cool for the 17th of May, even here. It's nice and sunny and there are little puffy clouds in the sky, but if it's 33º now, it's likely to be a lot colder before morning!
I forgot to mention yesterday that I tracked down the story on the lighthouse, and it is now back in operation. Evidently there was a more or less planned power outage sometime last week, because UPPCO needed to do some maintenance on some wires down the road a ways, and when the power came back up, it caused a surge that blew out the light bulb in the lighthouse. Since we're so far away from everything, it took until yesterday to fix it. It is also maintained by the Coast Guard, not the DNR, so that would undoubtedly add to the confusion.
I was a little surprised about it - I would think that anything as expensive as one of those lighthouse fixtures must be would have surge protectors! Thankfully I have a pretty good one on the computer here (or it seems to be, since it's still running!). It also makes me think that the automatic cutover switches for generators aren't all they're cracked up to be. The lighthouse has one of those, and I've always said that if I'm on the generator and I wonder if the power is back on, I can always step outside and listen. If I can hear the lighthouse generator (which is loud enough that I wonder if maybe it needs to be replaced), I know power is still off.
So last night, the lighthouse flashed in my window all night long. I found last year that I can pile up the covers so it doesn't blink on my face, and otherwise, I'm used to it. Since the boats are running, it's a good thing the lighthouse is in operation. Radar or no radar, if I were a pilot, I'd want to see the lighthouses just to double check myself.
I don't think I'd ever want to come too close to Keweenaw in a lake freighter anyway. I remember several years ago, Shirley and I were sitting in room 34 late in the afternoon on a pretty ugly day, and a freighter came by that couldn't have been more than a quarter mile off shore. It even surprised Shirley, and she's seen a lot of freighters. If it was my boat, I wouldn't have wanted to be that close!
At Fort Wilkins, and I think at the Eagle Harbor lighthouse museum, they have charts of all the boats that have gone down since boats started sailing in Superior, and the number is impressive. It would not be nice to have another one fetch up on the Keweenaw.
I'm still fiddling with the camera setup, and after everything quit working again today, I hooked up my snazzy timer. Evidently, for some unknown reason, the only way I'm going to be able to achieve a clean connection to the internet is to reboot the system every day, so it is now set to power fail at 2am every day. We shall see if that works, and if it works, if it solves my problem. I'm inching toward reinstalling TCP/IP, but I'd really rather not if I can avoid it.
What a pain. The big computer software I supported, buggy as it was, was certainly a lot more stable that the stuff on PCs. I do like Kabcam, though. It comes up with the preview screen open, if I select that option, which means that even if the first picture after reboot isn't exposed right, the next one will be. I hope when I install the new camera, I won't have to have the preview open, but I want to take one small step at a time so I can check everything out.
And I thought I was going to retire and let all my software support skills run out my ear! Ha! I should be so lucky!
Other than that, I did get my new reading lamp (that I hope to use in the ugly chair) unpacked and put together, and it is nice, and I almost have the changes to my needlework frame done. I unpacked the boxes and put the books away, although it will take a while to put the clothes away.
I have too many clothes. I've known that for a while, but I can't decide what I might want to get rid of. Maybe I can figure out a way to divide things so I don't need to ship so much back and forth.
I also seem to have left my tassel and twisted cord makers at home, although I seem to remember packing them in a project case. I wonder what happened to it? That's too bad - there were a couple more scissors keepers I wanted to make, and the thread and beads for them are where ever the tassel maker is. It's weird, too, because I planned to bring them along.
Anyway, I finished a little piece of embroidery that is a box insert today, and as soon as I get the pieces of fabric started, I can start on that scissors keeper and needlebook. They are by The Drawn Thread, like the Minute Sampler of last year, and they are fun little things. I may hold off on the other two pieces, because to finish them, I need matching thread and felt and coordinating lining material, and all that will have to wait until I get to JoAnn's in Houghton. I brought along all the silk for a lot of Just Nan's, and I think I may start on one of those next.
Except for the temperature, this would have been a great night to go up on the mountain again, so I will get this published and watch the rest of the sunset.
It was one of those days I occasionally have: I woke up tired, slept until 9:30, and stayed tired all day.
I actually originally woke up at 7:30, and just didn't feel like starting the day then. The lake had started talking in the middle of the night, and the roar of the waves on the other side of the peninsula put me back to sleep.
It was cloudy and gray when I got up, but I had a lovely breakfast. As I told Kelly when I stopped at the general store last night, she has everything really necessary, including Volwerth's pork sausage. It seems that, for some unknown reason, I took all the Brownberry bread home with me last fall, so there won't be any French toast my way until I replenish that, but I had a lovely breakfast of pork sausage, scrambled egg with cheddar cheese, English muffin, and American Spoon Foods apricot butter. Oh, yes, and Tropicana not-from-concentrate orange juice and Yuban coffee (although that's not perfect yet, since it was exposed to the air more than I like). Yum. The only meal I don't mind cooking is breakfast.
I decided I'd better check the camera, since the day before it wasn't updating. It was, but when I tried to do some of my usual internet stuff, I got into the most horrible mess, with the line dropping, pages half-loading, and things like that. So I never did any embroidery this morning and didn't get dressed until after 1pm.
While I was dressing, I considered the problem. When I got back to the office I tried valiantly to get into Gateway's knowledge base, but after being unable to do anything much, I got out my folder of old system printouts, stopped everything, and deleted and re-added Winsock2. I really don't much like anything that starts out, "back up the registry", but I was really having a terrible time, and Kabcam was reporting all kinds of FTP errors including socket errors. So I had to try something. I also asked Gateway to tell me where the instructions are to delete and add TCP.
Winsock seems to have been the problem, since everything has been working as well as it's possible to work at 28.8kb ever since. I had noticed, when I got here, that the picture uploads were taking forever, and even that seems to be fixed. Now, why Winsock2 should get screwed up is totally beyond me (this is the second time since I've had this computer that I've had to delete and reinstall it), but this is Windows ME, after all, and I've known all along that it was a piece of junk. The virus I got over the weekend probably didn't help, either.
Anyway, I also have the TCP delete/add instructions in hand now, so if what I did today doesn't seem to solve my problem, I can do that, too.
I did not intend to spend the day fiddling with the computer, but as a result, I think I may have it under control again. That's good, because I have indications that I may be on my own from now on. We shall see.
If Kabcam works with the old camera for the next few days, next week, I will try installing the new one. That may be tricky, since it doesn't have a place to attach it to a tripod, but with enough rubber bands and duct tape, I can probably get it into position. Just be aware that the upheavals aren't over, and at any time the camera updates may quit and stay stopped for a while. Maybe if I can get this under control now, I can sort of forget about it for the rest of the summer.
Not that there's much else to do (except unpack the boxes). It cleared up later in the day, and right now it's mostly clear - and the temperature is under 40º! According to the weather, it's supposed to be really cold for the next few days, and the rain may even be hard stuff or honest-to-goodness snow on Friday and Saturday. John says it may begin to warm up a little next week, but this is really crazy.
The trees and bushes are trying to bloom and leaf anyway, but the cold makes it really slow. If we have another nice sunny day that's not so windy and cold, I will try to get out a bit and take a few pictures of flowers. One maple on the road is in flower, with red flowers like my tree on Champine, and I've never gotten to really look at what a maple flower looks like.
You all may think that a lot of the close-ups of flowers I took last summer were for your benefit, but you're only partly right. Since I can't squat or kneel, there are a lot of flowers I simply can't get close enough to to see what they really look like. Taking the close-up pictures lets me see what they look like, too!
I shall have to begin to think about ordering my roses and perennials that need to be planted in the spring, but I sure can't do much planting yet, when we may have a hard freeze at any moment.
Actually, that's not too likely this close to the big lake. It's amusing to see the temperature ranges - when Houghton (or Lake Linden, John) is in the 50s or 60s, we'll be 10º cooler, but when the inland areas may get into the 20s, we'll be in the middle 30s. It's one reason I like being on the water so much. That humongous heat sink out there keeps us warmer when it's cold and cooler when it's hot, and I like all of that.
The only other problem of the day was that I had to eat in. Some big group has been in town for the past two days, and they commandeered Mariner North tonight. So I ate pizza and had all my Jack Daniels in one big glass - and ate in the office (what do I need a dining room table for, except show?), and as soon as I publish this and take one last look at the Pasty Cam, I'm off to bed again.
Well, I'll do a short entry, even though I don't have much to say, and there aren't any more pictures.
It was after midnight before I got to bed last night, which is the one disadvantage of waiting up to see the stars come out at this time of year. When the sun doesn't set until 9:20, it's a long time until it gets dark. Whether or not that bothers you depends upon what you want to do, I guess. I remember one year when my mother and I were up here in June that we were staying out on the beaches or in the woods until 7pm or later. That was nice, but it meant we were eating dinner pretty late.
Of course, I usually eat at that time, or later, these days.
No sunset today, for sure. Not much sun, either. It rained this morning, and it was cloudy and windy for most of the day, but it had warmed up over night and I think it got into the 50s. As I sit her typing, I can hear rain pouring down again, and it's not supposed to be so warm tomorrow. Everybody agrees that this weather is unusually cool, but I'm not complaining much, especially now that my boxes of warm clothes have arrived.
I'd be a lot less happy if it was as warm as it was for those few days in April, believe me!
The boxes did not get unpacked today because I thought I'd better do some work around the kitchen before the repairman arrived. It's uncharacteristically clean in there now, but it looks nice. If it was brighter, I'd take a picture, because it very rarely looks like that for very long.
The repairman showed me how to adjust the minimum flame on my stove burners - a really trivial adjustment - and he promised again to see what he can do about fixing the snack door on my fridge. I never really wanted that snack door anyway, but it came with the water/ice dispensers. Every time I slam the fridge door, the snack door comes unlatched and either falls all the way open or just opens a crack and in any case, it lets cold air out. Dumb arrangement, and the repairman isn't exactly sure how to fix it. He was even talking about a new door, but I hope it doesn't come to that!
Anyway, at least the stove is fixed, so if I ever want to, I can do some cooking without worrying about scorching everything.
I thought the kitties were adjusting quite well - and they have - but somebody threw up on my bedroom rug after breakfast this morning, so I had two dirty rugs. They are heavy enough that I can't just wash one, so I got to wash them both.
I stopped to talk to friends who own the general store after dinner tonight, so I was late getting home, and I need to go to bed sometime before midnight tonight, so I will get this published.
Well, I seem determined to break the livecam. I decided today was the day to change software, so I downloaded Kabcam and installed it, and now I'm not sure it works either. We shall see tomorrow, I guess, since I've set up the camera to go off at 10:30. Might as well, since it's dark. Somehow, I always thought this webcam thing would be easier...Oh, well.
Tonight after dinner, instead of going home and doing not much, I drove up to the top of Brockway to watch the sunset and see if I could see any of the planets that are in the western sky right now.
I stopped at Brockway's Nose because it was such a lovely evening, and this is what I saw. I took a closer shot of my end of the harbor, and I was glad to see that the house is actually not too noticeable, even when the trees are bare. As I was turning to get back into the car, I noticed a pond or puddle - or maybe it's the Garden Brook, I can't tell, east of Lake Fanny Hooe. I'm sure I've never seen that before, so it must be a spring thing.
I had just run off with a fleece jacket on, and when I got to the top of the mountain, I realized that it's cold up there tonight! My car thermometer said it was 43º when I got there. I tried to take a picture down the coast, but I got too much sun in it, and it didn't turn out.
As soon as the sun set, the temperature began to drop and there was a brisk wind from the north, so I decided it would probably be better to get back down the mountain before dark. The road down on the east side is hairy in broad daylight, and it would be really interesting at night. I may have to try it later in the year, though, because it's the only place around here with a nearly totally unobstructed horizon.
As I came around the east side, I could see the enormous radio tower the state police erected last year on the East Bluff. It looks as high as the hill, and it has those horrible strobe lights all the way to the top. I'm certainly glad I can't see it from here! What an ugly thing to do to a pretty hill.
By the time I got back to the house, it was dark enough to see some of what I wanted to see. I don't think I'll get to see Mercury. Tonight was about my last chance, and as you could see from the sunset shot, there were some clouds in the west. However, Venus and the Moon were bright and clear. I took a telephoto shot, too. I'm particularly surprised by the telephoto shot, since I was hand-holding the camera (braced against the deck rail) at 1/4 second! That's why the first shot is sort of blurry - I'm not so steady any more. Anyway, in the original of the telephoto shot, you can see the entire moon, not just the lighted part, and it's pretty cool. You may be able to just glimpse it, depending upon how good your monitor is.
Those pictures were sort of an experiment, really, and they came out so well that I guess I'm duty-bound to break out the tripod and try some more. Not tonight, though. It's getting late, and the temperature is just above freezing!
Much as I want that telescope, I'm afraid I'm just too wimpy to be a true backyard astronomer. I love to look at the stars and the faint fuzzies, but I just don't care to freeze my butt off very much any more. I do remember sitting out in a lawn chair in the driveway on Champine in the middle of winter a year or so ago to see a lunar eclipse, but that was an extraordinary event, and I lucked out because it clouded up before I got totally frozen.
While I was out taking the last two pictures, I heard a flock of geese, somewhere over in the direction of the lighthouse, and something with a very loud squeak in the bushes.
One of the little annoyances I've had since I've been here is that the septic system alarm is going off every twelve hours or so, and I have to trundle down to the basement to turn off the audible alarm. There isn't anything wrong with the system, but this same thing happened last year when I first moved in. We had a brief power failure today and when the power came back up, the alarm went off, but it didn't go off tonight, so maybe whatever its problem is, it's getting over it. I will have to talk to Philippe when he gets back, because that alarm is very loud and very annoying.
While I was downstairs after the power failure, I walked out into the garden. A few things seem to be coming up, including a lot of grass in the pathways (oh, well), so maybe I will have a flower or two after all. I looked up into the birch and there was a little female downy woodpecker climbing all over a branch looking for bugs. I know downys are small, but this one was almost sparrow sized. There was a white crowned or white throated sparrow under the bushes, too, so they are here now, on their way north. I don't know which it was because it didn't pose for me and I didn't have my binoculars, and the tops of their heads are pretty much the same.
One of the tasks for the next week or so is to get the bird feeder out and filled. I don't think I need to worry about the hummingbird feeders quite yet.
Earlier today I swept up most of the rest of the flies, and in the process I practically pulled the slipcovers completely off the great room furniture. There are just a few flies here and there, except for the sliding door tracks, which I'll have to attack with the vacuum. That makes me feel better.
The great room is totally upset, because somebody - I'm not sure who - moved a lot of furniture around and disconnected all the lamps over the winter. So after I get the slipcovers all tucked in again, I have a few other things to do.
It doesn't really matter now because my boxes came today, and it will be a mess until I get them unpacked and the stuff sorted out and put away. I did get most of the stuff I brought with me unpacked or put away - some of the file boxes stay packed - so that is taken care of. The cage is still in the great room, but my new hand truck came, too, so I will be able to truck that downstairs.
So that was an interesting day, and I will try to get this published and go to bed.
We made it!
I guess I'm finally at a point where I can sit quietly and write down all that has happened.
The trip north was actually not too bad. Buster was not a happy cat, and he threw up twice and I think he piddled on one of the towels in the cage, but altogether that was better than the first trip. When I got both cats into the carrier, DC growled at Buster, but I think it was just because he was upset, because when I dumped them into the big cage, he didn't want to come out, and I sort of had to reach around and haul him out without getting too big a gap in the cage door. It was interesting, but he did not want to come out of the carrier.
Once DC was in the cage, he settled down pretty well, although they both meowed for about an hour.
I will never again travel on the weekend in less than an emergency. The problem is that around the Detroit area, they close the freeways completely on the weekends, and I had to take surface streets all the way to I-696. And even at this time of year, there was a lot of traffic until I got to the bridge. Even with the rush hour, weekdays are better. Lesson learned.
The weather was good, the kind I like for driving. While it started out sunny, it soon clouded over, but there was no rain. It was cool, but not frigid, and not too windy, so all that was all right.
With everything I had to pack in at the last minute, I didn't leave until 8am, but I thought that was pretty good. Some things got left behind - like both boxes of CDs. There just was no room left at all. I packed most of the stuff in Sterlite plastic file boxes with lids, which is nice, except that they have large flanges all around the tops and that takes up a lot of extra room. Things were wedged in pretty good.
I also discovered (eventually) that after all the to-do about the bird hangings, I forgot all about them. They are still hanging in the sewing room. So I am making a list for when I go back in July.
I also discovered that a few things I brought along - like a half-gallon of Jack Daniels and three bottles of wine - were unnecessary, since I had left a lot of stuff here in anticipation of my return. If I were a really organized person, I'd make a list of stuff that I leave.
I think I got to Copper Harbor about 6:30, but I'm not sure, since I got behind a van that almost stopped at Mariner then drove 20 miles an hour out of town toward the fort. Tom Boost saw me go by, and he said I looked like I was fit to be tied. I sure know I didn't expect to find that kind of driving at this time of year!
It turns out, however, that Tech's graduation was Saturday, so the whole peninsula was full of visitors. The good side was that Mariner had their prime rib buffet, so I had a really nice dinner to end my day.
When we got the cage in the house, DC got out like a gentleman, and Buster immediately disappeared under the couch. DC wanted food, but he didn't hide.
I didn't sleep too well, partly because I was too keyed up, I think, but also because in the middle of the night, Buster came out and started walking back and forth across the top of the bed and across the pillow and ....
Yesterday, DC was all right, but it's taken Buster until today to really begin to settle in. I can't complain - last year it took him three weeks!
It certainly is nice to lie in bed and look out my windows, but it's kind of weird, because the lighthouse isn't working. I know I saw it in one of the dusk pictures last week, but it's been out since I've been here. I will have to track down why that is. It's actually nice for me, since when it is lit, it shines right in my bedroom, but I found I got used to it after a while. Strange.
The other strange thing is the season. North of about Grayling, there were no leaves on the trees yet, and none of the spring flowering bushes are out. There were some kind of little white flowers under some of the trees in the Hiawatha National Forest, maybe bloodroot, but no trilliums yet, and the daffodils in people's yards were at their peak.
Here in my yard, the catkins on the birches weren't even beginning to come out. Along the roadside all the way up the Keweenaw, there were patches of ice with the leftovers from the snow of last week on top. Really weird. And the temperatures have been in the low 50s or less since I got here.
I have to say, though, that in the two days I've been here, the birches are bursting into flower, and the juneberry blossoms are beginning to show color. I'd take a picture of the juneberry buds, but it rained yesterday, and the mud is very muddy in the back yard. Maybe tomorrow.
The house is fine, except for the dead flies. Tom had swept up a huge pile of them, just so we wouldn't walk around crunching, and yesterday I swept the bedroom end and the office. I needed to sort of clean things up in the office so I can get the boxes of crafts and paperwork out of the great room before I start on that.
At least all the flies are dead, which is what I thought anyway. Only I never thought to see as many flies in one place as there were last fall and this spring. Now I know what they mean when they say something breeds like flies.
The journal got postponed because it's taken me two days to get the computer beaten into shape. There were a lot of software updates I had to do, and I had a problem when I tried to update Norton AntiVirus and had to reinstall it.
On top of that, Jon had disabled all the security programs, which I didn't realize until I opened a file with a klez virus (the current rage, it seems) and hung the entire system. I had to go back to a previous reboot, and in the process lost over 50 messages from my msn mail account. I hope there was nothing vital there. Most of it was spam, for sure, but I hadn't looked at most of them when I had to fall back. I have the messages from anybody who emailed me at pasty.com, pasty.net or aviewfromthefield.com, but the rest of it is lost. Oh, well. So if you emailed me and don't get an answer, that's probably why.
So finally this afternoon, I got things back the way I want them. I talked to Intel about the camera and they informed me that it was working the way it was supposed to (which I suspected all along). Updates have been sporadic because of the software work I've been doing, and they'll continue to be, as I change from Spycam to Kabcam and install the new camera (in that order). I hope everybody will bear with me for the next week or two while I get everything settled.
I've been starting a software update, then going either to the pile of boxes or the broom until the update ends. The DSL in Detroit has really spoiled me, and even though my phone lines do seem to be fixed and I'm getting 28.8kb, boy, is that slow!
Anyway, I'm not likely to run out of things to do for a while.
It sure is good to be here, with my wonderful office, my great kitchen, my huge bed, and my great stall shower! Not to mention the view...
Boy, am I glad it's not Friday! If it were Friday, I wouldn't be leaving Saturday, for sure! However, the day was not wasted.
The boxes are packed, filled to the brim with stuff, clothes and books and some craft stuff. I called to have the package store pick them up, because I'm not sure I could lift them into the car, and besides, I'M NOT DONE YET!
The day did not start well or very early, because when I was downstairs last night, I got into a book I picked up, and didn't get to bed until very late...or actually, not so early this morning. I do these things now and then, just to prove I have no discipline at all.
Anyway, once I got going (a call from Debbie got me going), I threw all the clothes down the stairs in bags, took two wash baskets full of other stuff down using my normal method (backing down the stairs and moving the basket two steps at a time - I've missed the last step more than once doing this, but I didn't today), then packed up the remaining boxes.
I then attacked the sewing room for the last time, and except that the sewing machine isn't in its case yet, everything else is either packed or piled so it can be moved. In between this, I gathered all the trash I could find and threw that down the stairs too. Boy, will it be good to be all on one floor for a while!
I had to edit the packing of my suitcases a bit, because it's going to be cooler than I anticipated over the weekend, and I packed the down parka.
What I didn't notice when I did the last load of wash the other night was that I neglected to take one fleece jacket out of the washer - actually, it's the navy fuzzy one I got last summer. So I am now in the process of re-washing it, just to make sure it hasn't grown mold, and then it will have to be dryer-dried, because it needs to go upstairs when I do.
There are a few things left to do tonight - get the jacket dry, wheel the recyclables out to the curb, and do the computer thing.
On the subject of the computers, I'd be lost without the laptop and Laplink. There just is no way I could get all the changes for six months onto floppy disks or even CDs. I've fooled around with a lot of things this winter, not just the website, and the updated versions of everything need to go with me. I've enjoyed this website, and those of you I've met through it, immensely, but do not ever think it's a trivial matter to keep it going. So add that to my hobbies...
Oh, dear, I just read the care instructions on the fuzzy jacket, and they say "dry clean only"! Not that I haven't washed it a couple of times already...I hope its fur doesn't curl up into knots getting dried at the same temperature I dried the down at. I'll have to point that out to Janet when I see her.
So I will get this published and talk to you again on Sunday. We're getting there!
Boy, am I glad this is Wednesday and not Thursday! I am making progress, but wow! Is it slow!
I have one and a half boxes packed and I think the clothes are sorted out. I have discovered that I have a large selection of turtlenecks in some of the strangest colors I have ever seen. They most come from Eddie Bauer, and I really wonder about them. They don't go with anything, let alone any other piece Eddie ever sold. Well, as I discovered when I got home last fall, if I never buy another piece of casual clothing, I'll be set until I die. I tried to match turtlenecks with the cotton sweaters, and left most of the matching sets here, so that I'll have them to wear next winter when I have to look a little more put together.
The stuff I'm taking is pretty bulky, especially the polar fleece, which is why I'm shipping it. The fleece, and the light color turtlenecks, is a lot of the stuff I have to bring back and forth, because I wear it both places.
So we progress.
This afternoon, I washed the down parka, both of my lighter weight jacket, and the fleece jackets that were dirty. When I looked at what was left in the laundry, I put it in a bag and I'll just take it with me. There's not enough to worry about, even after I add what I have on now.
It looks like I'm going to need warm clothes, here now, and when I get to Copper Harbor. It's cold and rainy both places, and while it looks like I may not have rain to travel in, next week looks just as ugly.
Not that I mind. Just to be able to smell the cold, fresh air is enough. I think I've said before that I avoid taking deep breaths after I get to I-75.
It's been hard not to do that, because the old lilac is out, and yesterday, especially before it cooled off, the back yard was full of its perfume, and every so often I'd also get a whiff of the gooseberry, which is still out.
The cool weather has held the flowering trees very nicely, but the pear and the other early, white trees are shedding their petals so fast it sometimes looks like it's snowing white petals. Pretty...much prettier than the snow in Keweenaw this morning.
It looks like this year I'll be able to see all of spring come. If I thought most years were going to be like this, I'd plant some spring bulbs. But who can tell? The downside is that most likely the black flies will last well into July.
I never said it was paradise - just pretty close.
I guess I should mention that the camera is down. It went down at around 10:30 last evening, and never woke up, and I haven't been able to find Jonathan to wake it up. I may pull some hanky-panky and stick in a picture from last evening, just so there will be something to see besides a white dot.
So all the wash that's going to get done is done, packing is under way, and I broiled a nice steak for dinner - now I can rearm the smoke detectors. While I can wish I was further ahead, with me that just doesn't seem possible.
I am a little concerned that I haven't heard from the mortgage broker about closing, but I'm not waiting around. If it doesn't happen this week, we'll just have to do it through the mail.
Tomorrow's journal will probably be early, and it will be the last one until Sunday, most likely. I will be transferring the files from the big computer to the laptop tomorrow, which means I won't be making any changes to anything until I get to Copper Harbor, and then there are some software updates I will have to do before I do anything else.
So I guess we'll make it. Three days...
If you need a refresher course in how to procrastinate, here's a good place to start. I still have not done any packing. However, I haven't been idle.
The income tax refund arrived yesterday (after the bank closed, of course), so I had to go out this morning for that, so I hit the bank, the post office, the pet food store and the supermarket. By the time I got back and got the car unloaded, I was exhausted, so for the rest of the afternoon I called magazines and got that taken care of. I also consolidated my change of address notes into a couple of spread sheets, so when it comes time to change everything back, I won't be scratching my head like I was this time.
Besides, now I am totally committed to getting to Copper Harbor before Monday.
Tomorrow I simply cannot put off packing the boxes any longer. That means all the sorting and moving. Most of the non-clothing stuff is ready to go, but I haven't done a thing in the front room yet, and since I'm sending the fabric for my summer sewing projects, I need to get that stuff together, and I'm also planning to send some knitting and embroidery projects. I wonder if four 18 inch cubes will be enough?
There is so much clothing to pack because I do in fact wear a lot of the same things here that I do there, and while I have enough clothes to pretty much split them between the two places, I can guarantee that however I did it, I would want to wear what was there and not what was here. That is a fact of my personality that I learned years ago.
I really wanted to trundle the boxes back to the packing store on Thursday, but I doubt I'll be ready by then. I guess I can take them Friday morning, if necessary, since I want to be sure they don't show up until Monday at the earliest.
I am still waiting to hear back from the mortgage broker about when we will close on that, but since I didn't hear from her, I'm assuming that the stuff I faxed her satisfied the title people. Really, like I would ever sign a trust agreement that did not give me the power to buy and sell and mortgage my own property...
According to Tish Boost, I am not the only one who had or has a fly problem, and she seems to think all the flies are still there. They may be, but I somehow doubt it, since nothing has crawled in front of or into the camera in several months. There had been flies in the autumn of 2000, too, and they weren't there when I moved in last spring. We shall see. Tish suggested that when I leave in November, I get some bug bombs and have Tom set them off, which is a good idea, if I can get some that don't leave a toxic residue.
By the way, the weather today was weird. When I left home, about 11:30, it was warm (mid-60s) and humid, and it was close to 70 by the time I got to the supermarket. When I came out of the store, the wind had shifted to the east, and the temperature had dropped 7 or 8 degrees and it's been going down ever since.
Some forecasters are saying it may snow in the UP tonight, but John Dee doesn't, and he is a far more reliable forecaster for Keweenaw than the National Weather Service. Right now it looks like we will miss the rain on Saturday, and it will be a little warmer in Copper Harbor than it has been this week. Not that it will bother me - that's why I'm taking all those winter clothes. I would prefer not to drive in the rain, though.
So slowly but surely I inch toward leaving...
Four more days... Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
Well, the rain is on the virtual window in Copper Harbor and the rain is on the real window in Grosse Pointe. Our day started out quite nice and quite warm, then the rain moved in and it got chilly and dampish. I suspect the same thing happened in Copper Harbor, except that it's a lot cooler there.
Dr. Lehman was very upbeat, and he will send some information to the people at Marquette, and I have to come back to visit him in July. That's about what I expected. I didn't think he would want to let me go three months between visits yet.
I sort of goofed off for the rest of the day, except that I spent an hour on the phone getting my address changed for all the utility bills. I guess that's some progress. For the rest of the afternoon I transcribed my audio diaries of my trips to and from last year, to try to get a list of checkpoints for my trips. Trouble is, I wasn't very consistent about where I took my checkpoints, and from the tone of my voice during some of the trips, I was so tired I'm sure I sometimes didn't report either the time or the mileage very accurately.
It does seem that the entire trip is 615 miles (plus or minus 1) and it takes an average of 10 hours and 51 minutes to go north and 10 hours and 30 minutes to go south. The difference has to be that all my trips were on weekdays, and it took a lot of time to get north of Flint. Coming the other way, I usually hit Flint a little before their rush hour and Troy after theirs.
The longest travel time, 11 hours and 5 minutes, though was the trip in September when it poured rain most of the way and I was having a gastrointestinal attack The minimum travel time seems to be about 10 hours and 20 minutes.
Altogether, it's a long trip, and if you heard my voice on that tape, you'd know I was tired. I'm hoping that if I leave on Saturday, getting to Flint won't take so long and that will give me a leg up. I only hope I can get away good and early. That was what did me in on the trip back in November - I didn't leave until almost 9am.
I still want to look at the data a little more, but I think I have the information in hand. There are a few different places I want to checkpoint this year, and maybe a couple I won't bother to do.
I think I got the mortgage thing straightened out, too, after I faxed the broker 12 pages of very generic information about administration. So I made a little progress.
Something changed about access to pastynet yesterday, so I wasn't able to upload yesterday's entry until this afternoon, so this will be the second update of the day. I wish they wouldn't do that. It puts FrontPage into a tizzy and it thinks it has to upload the entire web, so I end up having to click "no" about two hundred times (or it seems that much!). Hopefully, this will work better.
Progress! I got an early start this morning, and so I had over five hours to work in the sewing room. While I'm not done, things are pretty well organized, most of the floor is cleared (miracles do happen), and I've pretty much collected the embroidery projects to take north.
Tomorrow, I see Lehman around noon. We're getting low on cat food, but I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do. I should come home and continue with the sorting and putting away, but we're running out of cat food, so I'll see.
After a few cool weeks, it's beginning to warm up again. It was too bad I had to spend the afternoon inside today. It was in the mid seventies and clear outside, the kind of spring day when one should really be out of doors even if one isn't doing anything.
Unfortunately, I can't spend any more time not doing anything.
I have pretty much used up the birdseed, which is too bad, because the birds are hungry, but I don't want to get any more. If I leave it, it will be full of pantry moths before I get home, and I don't want to leave Jackie with that. There was a very hungry mom squirrel peering in the slider while I was eating breakfast this morning, and I really don't have anything to give her, since I don't keep cookies or peanut butter crackers around any more. In fact, all that's left in the cracker department are water biscuits, and I'll take those with me, and that cupboard is now holding plastic freezer containers.
Next fall when I get home, I am going to have to raid out the pantry cupboards, where there is more stuff than I will ever possibly use. I like the way things are in Copper Harbor, with only a few cans and jars and a little pasta. Living there has already taught me a few lessons, I guess.
In the meantime, the cats are getting puzzled. Wait till I start bringing the clothes downstairs to put in the boxes! Cats just don't like their world disrupted at all. I'm hoping that this summer we can settle in nicely without all the disruptions - workmen in and mom out - that we had last year.
I'm wondering about the camera, though. There have been two glitches in the past two days. Not for the first time in my computer career, I wish there was some way of logging every event, particularly at a remote site. Yesterday there may have been a power failure, because it was windy, but what the heck happened today? It looks like it might be rainy, but the winds are calm. We'll probably never know...
If I can get the telephone lines straightened out, it would be tempting to leave the big computer running the camera for a while and do my work on the laptop. I have a suspicion that getting the phone lines fixed is going to be a major hassle, if it ever gets done. Large corporations just aren't interested in the little problems of the guys at the end of the line. Well, not to anticipate.
I hope today has gotten me in the swing of things, and I can get everything ready to go without running around like a maniac at the last minute. It will be interesting to see.
Just a short entry tonight, while I eat my pasty, so as to keep in practice.
I think I remember spending a similar day in Copper Harbor last fall, when I should have been doing something else. My main accomplishment today was to get the last five satin pillowcases hemmed. I did six in Copper Harbor, and left them there, and the final five have been slipping around the sewing room all winter. I certainly wasn't going to take them with me, since they are intended for this house, and I wanted to get them out of the way.
When I got the satin, a year ago February, I think, I got enough for at least 13, with the idea that maybe I'll never have to do that again. The original plan was to put a row of decorative stitching around the hem in rayon thread, which is pretty, but it takes a lot of time and it isn't exactly easy to do, since the satin is so slippery, so there are either two or three with fancy stitching, and the rest are just plain.
Why satin? Why do them myself? I've slept on a satin pillowcase for years, since my mother discovered that it does keep one's hair in better order. Besides, it's cool and soft on my face. I have to make them myself, because I have king size pillows, and they would cost a fortune if I could find them at all. Since I usually go to bed with my hair wet, and I sleep on my sides, my hair is usually sticking straight up on top in the morning anyway, but I've gotten so used to the feel of the satin, I'm not comfortable without it.
Making something as simple as pillowcases isn't my favorite pastime (obviously) and the satin is hard because it ravels like crazy, all the seams have to be enclosed, and the hems have to be decent looking. It didn't help that I had originally intended to leave both ends open, like we used to make them, then I decided to sew one end closed. That was all done - I think I did it in Copper Harbor - but there were still the hems.
Anyway, it looks like I now have six or seven cases in Copper Harbor and seven here, which should mean it will take a good long time before I need to worry about any more. Satin doesn't wear as well as cotton does, but these should last a while.
I looked around to begin the sorting in the sewing room, but it has become such a disaster when we were cleaning up the rest of the upstairs that it will take more time than I had today to get it straight.
While I was sewing, the truck, lawn equipment and motorcycle noises around on a beautiful May Saturday just about drove me nuts. It's time for some peace and quiet.
I will be wrapping this up shortly, because I have to go to church at 8:15 tomorrow. There are two reasons: I want to take communion one last time, because I don't know when - or if - I will get to do it in Keweenaw; and tomorrow is Pre-School Sunday at our church.
I guess I just have a bad attitude, but since I never had any children of my own to admire, I just do not find the antics of two- to four-year-olds in front of a group of parents to be cute at all. Part of the reason is that I never would have done such a thing when I was that age - and yes, I was aware enough and stubborn enough not to. For me, their presence totally disrupts my attempts to worship.
I believe that our church's pre-school is a wonderful thing for the children, as well as a great outreach program, but I just don't want to participate.
So I will haul myself out of bed at some ungodly hour of the morning and trundle off to church at 8:15. I used to go at that hour all summer long, especially before the church was air conditioned, but it's been a long time since I've been up at that hour. Get me ready for next Saturday.
I also may see my friend Carol, who is back in town at last, and whom I haven't seen since Christmas or something. Different Carol from the one who feeds me and considers me her daughter.
Umm, in seven days, I will be sitting in the ugly chair (more likely in Mariner North, at this hour), and I have actually done very little to get ready. Oh, well, I always work better under pressure anyway...
Well, my teeth are clean, I have a timer, the drain in the powder room is fixed, and the garbage collectors took away the huge load of stuff outside the back door. So we progress.
I got the timer at Damman's, along with some fly paper strips and a jar opener that may work. Last year when I was collecting kitchen tools, I got what I thought was a jar opener identical to the one I have here. It's true that the shape is the same, but the hinge is at the top rather than in the middle, so that if I put it around a jar of any size, the handles open so wide that I can't clamp them together. Annoyed me no end, but since I'm not a metal worker, I've been looking for another one. It sometimes amazes me how someone can take a very nice design (of anything) and with one small change make it completely useless.
(Buster is sitting on top of the printer, holding his tail in his paw to wash it. He cracks me up every time he does that, and he's the only cat I've ever known who did. Shows he certainly isn't stupid - how would you wash your tail? - he is just more self-centered than most of the other cats I've known.
Anyway, the new jar opener is a completely different design, and I think it will work fine.
I probably should just have gone to Damman's to begin with. They continually amaze me with the things they sell, including a lot of stuff I've only seen in catalogs, and they sell it for a lot less than the catalogs do.
The timer needed to power fail the computer had to have both a grounded plug and a grounded outlet, since I plan to plug it into the surge protector, or to the UPS if I get one. Not only does this one have grounded connectors, but it is a digital timer with batteries, so it will keep its program through power outages. I plan to power fail the cpu for about 5 minutes every night, after it's too dark to take pictures, in the hope that doing so will clear any telephone problems that crop up. This assumes, of course, that my new software and new camera start up properly and take pictures properly. It will be an interesting month or two trying to get all this straightened out.
Hey, I always have loved playing with the computer... However, there may be some glitches and false starts, so the pictures may not appear as consistently as they have lately.
I got a lot of fly paper strips (for obvious reasons to those who have been reading this journal for a while). It rather surprised me to find them here in Detroit - I've never seen them before - and I'm sure I can get them in Houghton, but my plan is to try to take enough stuff and food so that I don't have to go back down the peninsula a week from Monday. Wednesday or Thursday, maybe, but not Monday.
I expect to spend the first few days I'm there sitting in the ugly chair just looking out the window...
All of my exertions have not done my legs any good at all, and what with the cool weather we've been having, I'm pretty stiff.
Over the weekend, I am hoping to get most of the sorting done, so I can start the packing on Monday or Tuesday at the latest. Something is bound to come up to interrupt me, but it would be really nice to be able to be all ready to pack the car Friday noon. Dreamer...
I forgot to mention the drain. We discovered it when Cynthia was here last week. She, being a clean sort, wanted to wash her hands in the powder room, and then a few minutes later in the basement, she noticed water dripping through the floor. The plumber came and looked and informed me that the drain pipe was rotted out at the wall and he would be back Monday or Tuesday. Of course, he didn't show up until I called Greg again today, and then I had to postpone his visit until after I got back from the doctor. I just didn't want to go away for six months with the thing broken. So now I can take the broken mirror frame out of the basin and hope that anybody who uses it turns off the cold water hard enough that it doesn't run up my water bills.
It seems that something like this turns up as I am getting ready to leave every year, but those are the joys of a 50-year-old house. At the same time, last summer I had such a bad leak in the master bathroom toilet in Copper Harbor that it made a puddle on the basement floor and really messed up the floor tile in the bathroom. As I told someone a few days ago, there is no money sink in the world like a house - and now I have two!
It's not that I have so much to talk about, but I'm trying to get back in the every-day-journal habit. I've had some occasion to look back at last year's spring and summer journals, and I found that I left out a lot of stuff I now want to know about. I guess one learns by doing how to keep a meaningful journal. I will also confess that there are things I want to write about that I don't want published for all the world to see (like my mortgage application woes), and I've been contemplating the possibility of keeping an online journal and an off-line journal or maybe two. Gad, the problems we make for ourselves!
Well, so much for today. It was beautifully sunny and cool (mid-50s) today. I can report that the new sunglasses work very well indeed. Now I can stuff my face with pizza, as soon as I get it cooked, and collapse into bed again.
Gosh, I missed May Day, not that I wasn't yelling it! Things are beginning to pile up on me, as they always do the couple of weeks before I leave. That was true even when I only went for three weeks.
Monday I spent most of the day sitting in the middle of the sewing room trying to decide what to take and what to leave here. That is the hardest part of all of this. I don't want to take everything, like I tried to do last year, but I want to make sure I have enough of a variety of projects that I have some choice about what to do. So far, I feel like I'll be working mostly on small things this year, which means more to take. I am trying to prepare a couple of larger projects, too, just in case...
Tuesday, I decided that the cats would get their rabies shots. The more I thought about the possibility of something getting into the house, as remote as that is, the more I decided I would rather they were safe. It started with DC, since he was overdue for his, and while he was there, he got a complete blood workup, just because he is 14 years old, and I wanted to be sure he wasn't beginning to get some geriatric disease or other. It turns out he is in absolutely tip-top condition, except that he is beginning to form cataracts (so who isn't?). It was worth the cost to know he's all right. Both the vet and I think his weight loss last year was due to stress.
I checked to see if Buster could get his rabies booster early, and when they said yes. I hauled him over, too, and also got his claws clipped. I am going to have to learn how to clip his claws eventually, because as he gets older, he will start to scratch even less than he does now, and they are so long they may very well get ingrown. They are extremely sharp, too, especially the front ones, and he has even put holes in a couple of pairs of my jeans.
I was forgiven quickly for being so mean to them, but yesterday neither cat felt very well. I know the rabies booster does that to Buster particularly. But now they are safe.
I had discovered I was almost out of underwear, so I spent the rest of the day (until midnight!) washing clothes. Now the bulk of the wash is done, and I will only have a few more loads to do.
Yesterday, Cynthia came back and we did the last of the cleaning - the garage and the upstairs, especially the hallway and the part of my bedroom between the bed and the door. I think now things are cleared out enough that I can begin the sorting, packing of boxes and suitcases and putting away. I keep trying to remind myself that almost everything that goes north will end up coming back south again, and I wear fewer clothes than I think I will, and I almost never get out of my jeans, but it's almost as hard to decide what clothes to leave behind as it is to decide what needlework to leave here.
Today I ran hard. The mortgage company needed some more stuff (including some they didn't get, and which made me too mad to even write about it), so I had to gather things together, copy them and write a cover letter, then try to find the nearest Airborne drop box. As I was doing that, the store where I get my bras called to say the one I've been wearing has been discontinued and I would have to go and try on some new styles (which I hate passionately), I wanted to visit Carey today to get that out of the way, and I had an appointment to get my hair cut. Talk about flying low...
Of course, while I was gone, I got three important phone calls, but two of them left good enough messages that I didn't have to call them back. The other one was Philippe, about a garage in Copper Harbor, which I probably won't get to do this year anyway.
At least I got a bunch of errands out of the way. I will do more tomorrow, after I get my teeth cleaned. I wanted to get some of these things out of the way this week so I have more time next week for all the rest of the stuff.
I stopped at the place I was told I could get a timer with three-pronged outlets, and they don't have any, so I am going to have to try to chase that down. Even though with the new camera and new software, I don't think there will be quite such a problem as we had this year, I want to be able to power fail the computer every night just to clean up any problems that may occur.
Now, a few of these things are things I could have done before, but a lot of them aren't, and most of what I have to do next week is of the same sort. There are just a lot of things to do right before I leave.
Monday I see Lehman, and then I'll know when I will be coming back during the summer. It would be nice if I could get the greater part of the packing done over the weekend, just so I'm not running around like a maniac on the last two days I'm here. And, of course, sometime next week, I think I will have to close on the mortgages.
I almost forgot to mention that the sun is now setting out of the camera on the other side of the lighthouse. There are still a few pictures full of sun, but sunset itself is gone until August or so.
Well, things are coming together, and in nine days, I will be collapsed in the ugly chair looking out at the harbor...
Last updated 08/04/11 08:45 PM