A View From the Field









January, 2003


January 31

Another quiet day, but it is the end of the month, so I thought I'd better wrap it up.  just think, in a little over three months I'll be on my way back to the field! That's a nice thing to contemplate on a dreary winter day.


The temperatures have mitigated considerably in the past few days, and it is just over freezing here and just under freezing in Copper Harbor. I don't think there was any snow there today. According to radar, something is coming in our direction, possibly snow, but it hasn't hit yet.


My recovery is coming along, but my nose is dripping and giving me coughing fits at times, so I didn't sleep excessively late today and I wet my pants again. That is one of the unfortunate side effects of being an older female that just about every woman I know has encountered.


I spent most of the day embroidering, but I finally got around to throwing together one of my favorite comfort foods. It's called chili stew, but it actually doesn't resemble real chili very much. It's a nice combination of onions, garlic, green peppers, ground beef, tomatoes and  kidney beans with chili-type seasonings. You eat it over macaroni. My mother found the recipe probably forty-five years ago and it was a real family favorite. For some reason, I'd sort of forgotten about it and hadn't made it in a while, even though it's really easy. Essentially, you throw everything in the dutch oven and stand back...


It also freezes very well, and I may freeze a container or two, although I discovered some time ago that it's better not to freeze it with the macaroni, which gets quite overcooked when it's heated up. That's OK - it's so hard to cook macaroni! Right now, I have a pot of chili stew and a pot of macaroni that I will have to do something about tonight, but I'm doing this earlier than usual lately, so when it's published, I will go upstairs and do something with it all. It tasted really good.


So another quiet day in the field...and another month gone. I shouldn't wish my life away like that.


January 30

Well, it's been pretty quiet around here.  We had a little snow a couple of days ago, yesterday was sunny both here and in Copper Harbor, and the temperatures have eased a little - low to mid 20s, at least. It wasn't too nice when I went out with the trash tonight, except that Jupiter was rising over the Adamaszeks' garage and Sirius was rising over their house, so it was clear here.


I am continuing to recover from my ailment, and I actually seem to have gone two days without coughing or blowing so hard I wet my pants (sorry to mention it, but it's a serious problem).


I do have a small tale to tell.  I collect Harmony Kingdom figural boxes, at least some of them, mostly cats. If you want to see what they are, their website is http://www.harmonykingdom.com. Anyway, a couple of years ago they came out with a line of what they called "Roly Polys", which were based on a sphere about 1¼" in diameter. They were named after celebrities, and one of them was an eagle with its head buried in its breast called Liz.  They don't do many birds, and I have collected most of them, so I got Liz shortly after I got home from U of M. She wasn't too successful because the bottom wasn't completely flat and she tipped over.


For a while, I had her sitting on the kitchen table, to admire her. Apparently when I decided to move her to the étagère, she fell on the floor, and when I next looked, her head, which was the top of the box, was missing. I thought I searched diligently, as much as I could without being able to get down on my hands and knees to look under everything, and I continued to search for over a year.


Finally, I concluded that somehow the top had gotten thrown out, and since they were discontinuing production, I bought another one (this one wasn't too expensive) and put the Liz body in a box.


A while after I got home this fall, I noticed something in a corner of the front hall that looked like - ahem - something the cat brought up from the basement by accident, but I didn't pay too much attention to it. I should say that the HK boxes are all sort of cream colored with brown accents, sort of like scrimshaw. The other day, I decided it had sat there long enough and I took a good look at it...and low and behold, it was Liz's head! Fortunately, I was able to recover the body fairly easily, so now I have a Liz to take to Copper Harbor!


I guess what actually happened was that the head did fall on the floor, probably out of the étagère when I opened it, and since it was a perfect size for a small black paw, it got batted someplace where I couldn't find it. After we got home, Buster found it again and batted it into the hallway. I have to say I've always been sure it was someplace in the house, but without moving all the furniture, I just had to wait until Buster found it for me.


The only other thing I have to report is that I moved some stuff around in the sewing room and got out all the embroidery pieces for which Carey gave me the backing boards, so now I can start on that chore. Some of the pieces are quite small and won't be a problem, but there are two big angels, one of them huge, that will be a real pain to mount. If it stays sunny, like it was this afternoon, however, it will be nice to sit in the sewing room wielding my curved needle and hoping I can get the things mounted straight enough to satisfy her. I won't go back to see her until I have at least something to take.


So that is all the news from exile.


January 27

For the first time in a long time, I didn't put a needle in cloth today. I had a nice chat with Randi instead, and then I had to run out and do errands - the bank, the post office and the supermarket. Once that was done, I sort of crashed.


Yesterday I finished the little sampler and started another one by the same designer, so I guess that made up for today.


DC seems to feel a little better, and he has forgiven me for trying to get his mouth open. He is eating well and seems to be acting OK. As soon as the temperature warms up a bit, I will haul him off to the vet and find out what his problem was. Right now it would freeze his tail off to take him out.


It has been cold. The car thermometer said 14º (ICE for sure!) when I was out, but the official temperature at 5pm was 9º! So DC has been upstairs in front of the warm register all evening and Buster has been mostly sitting on my lap, cuddled up in a little ball and trying to hide his nose. I should really do something about the heat (or lack thereof) on the porch, which is what ultimately makes it so cold down here. Cold air falls, remember, and when I go up the stairs, I can feel it pouring down.


I am feeling better. I am still making a lot of noise, blowing and coughing, but the blowing is really gloppy and the coughing is mostly a nice, moist cough that occasionally brings up something. I can go for some time without making noises, which means I have been sleeping much better (and not so long), and I feel pretty good, all things considered. The doctor said it takes 10 days to clear up altogether, so I guess I have about another week before I'm all back to normal again.


The weather in Copper Harbor was mostly the usual, although it was a tad colder here this evening than it was there. They actually had a ray of sunshine shortly after sunrise this morning, although there were dark gray clouds over the lake. It began snowing around noon, and by 2:30 it was snowing hard enough that you couldn't see anything beyond the shoreline. That continued until sunset.


The last picture for tonight never completely loaded, by the way. I'm hoping the camera starts up tomorrow morning like it should, but I will try to check it earlier in the day, at least by calling it to see that the phone line is in use. I noticed last summer that there just seem to be periods of several days in a row when the phone lines go to pot, they they come back and behave properly for a while. I think we're going through one of those times now.


I am also going to have to reboot this computer, since Explorer is screwed up again. It is my opinion that if a program is going to be so tightly integrated into so much of the operating system, it ought to be thoroughly debugged, and this one certainly is not.


So that is the view from the cold field-in-exile tonight.


January 25

I'm sorry to report that the camera was offline all day today. It didn't come up properly this morning, and I had to kick it a couple of times before it restarted, so there are no pictures until after dark...however, from the fact that the lights of Copper Harbor aren't visible, I deduce that it's snowing. This happens occasionally; somebody suggested it happens when the modem can't make a connection the second time. Sometimes it recovers and sometimes it doesn't. This time it didn't.


It was a quiet day here today, but DC has a tooth problem and after I tried twice - and failed - to see what it is, he has been hiding from me all day. And they think owners can handle their own cats!  Ha!  I got the little cards about their shots last week, so I guess we will be off to the  vet, and I imagine DC will require some work. It's a shame, but he is nearly 15 years old, after all. He is still eating, and eating well, but his mouth clearly bothers him.  When I finally got it open, he curled his lips over his teeth so I couldn't see a thing, and I upset him so he won't come near me. Oh, well.


I did fill another trash bag with stuff from the bedroom, and I did not find the addresses envelope I know I saw a week or so ago. This stuff was mostly from the early part of 2001, plus the little stuff that piles up on my desk, which I had just thrown into a crate and a file box. I didn't find anything astounding, but I got rid of an amazing amount of stuff. I guess that's progress. Now I can think about filling that file box with the last three years' stuff to keep and hauling it down to the basement...and that's how the basement gets so full.


There are three or more crates of stuff from 2000 that we just moved down here before I went to U of M and we had to clean out the front bedroom. I am sure I could do the same thing with that stuff that I did with the 2001 stuff today, but oh, my how I hate that job!


I had a nice phone call from a woman I have known (or I should say, has known me) since I was born, who lived with her parents next door in the four flat. We have more or less kept in touch, and every so often we have a phone conversation. She moved to San Diego after her mother died, because she doesn't do cold weather, and she seems quite content there. It was nice to hear from her.


I am not planning to go to church tomorrow. I don't feel too bad, but I am still sleeping 12 hours a day and every so often I will have an eruption of coughing and blowing, and knowing how things work, I'm sure it would happen in the middle of church...probably in the middle of the sermon. I know when I started to talk to Madeleine, I immediately started to cough.


So that is another quiet day in the field-in-exile.


January 24

The doctor said it is most likely bronchitis, and even with the drugs, it will probably hang on for about 10 days (from when, I don't know). So I crawled back into my hole and went to bed and got 12 hours' sleep again. It's amazing how much longer I can sleep since all the chemo. It sure does cut into production, though.


I feel some better, I'm not coughing quite so much, and when I do, it seems to be juicier and I'm bringing up something occasionally, so I have to say I'm making progress.


I finally got tired of not having anything to eat, so I made my pot roast and mashed potatoes. It went down real good, even though I can't taste it very much yet. My problem with that dish, like the lamb shanks, is that it is quite rich - high fat, that is - and if I eat too much of it, it upsets my stomach.. Usually it smells so good and tastes so good that I eat too much, but I managed to serve myself a nice, modest helping tonight, and I feel all warm and comfy inside.


By Monday, I will have to lay in some supplies, but by Monday I expect to feel lots better. I take my last pill tonight.


The weather hasn't been worth talking much about. It's warmed up a tad (above zero) in Copper Harbor, and there is perhaps 2" of snow on the deck. The juniper in the yard is getting covered. It snowed all day yesterday, and for most of the day today, but it was just cloudy at sunset.


Here, it was a little warmer, too, but not much, and at intervals a few flakes came down, not enough to cover anything. It was particularly fun around noon today, when I could see about one flake every 20 seconds come fluttering down through the pear tree. They almost looked like pieces of confetti. Later, it was a bit heavier, but not much. It's too bad, with the cold, that we didn't have a good snow cover here. Fortunately, the roses I have left did get mulched, but even that isn't like a good snow cover.


So that is all the news from the field in exile, and I will crawl back into my bed again.


January 22

Again, I thought I'd better get something out lest some people start calling the hospitals. I am actually doing much better. I feel better, and my fever is pretty much gone. My nose and my throat are at the gloppy stage, which is sometimes harder to handle than when it runs like a sieve. Most of the time when I cough - which happens at intervals - its a nice, gravelly, juicy cough rather than a dry, hacking one that nearly gags me. I have to watch it when I blow my nose so that I don't clog up my Eustachian tubes. The muscles in my middle back and center front hurt from coughing. I wouldn't say I feel like taking on the world, but I am definitely making progress. I can even taste a little, and I'm a little hungrier than I was.


Tomorrow I see Dr. Lehman and find out for sure that it's bronchitis, but I'd say it's under control. My tests will have to be postponed for a while, since I can't ever say for sure when I will have a coughing fit, and besides, I'd probably fail the breathing test, as well as cough into the machine.


I have been hibernating. I should have taken the stuff for the lawyer to the post office yesterday - or today - and just decided to wait.


It's been a good time to hibernate. The temperatures here  have been in the low teens and below. In Copper Harbor, they have been in the single digits and below with very high wind - right now it's out of the north at 32 mph with gusts to 40 mph. I can just feel the little knives cutting into my face...and my upper lip getting numb. That is cold!  I've been out-of-doors when the temperature was colder, but never when the wind was that strong. My down parka, with a wool sweater and a turtleneck, would stand up to it, but I'd definitely need snowmobile pants and snow boots! I might need heated mittens, too.  Man! It's been a few years since it's been that cold up there.


The temperatures are supposed to be moderating over the next week or so, thankfully, but then it may very well start snowing again. So this is turning out to be something like a good old-fashioned Michigan winter after all!


I have spent a lot of time in bed, of course, but yesterday I finished my big angel. I will try to figure out a way to take a picture of her. She is really pretty. Today I started a very small (4"x6",about) winter sampler by another of my favorite designers (who isn't doing anything anymore) whom I haven't worked on in quite some time. It's fun, and it's so small it will go really fast. In fact, this one is so small, I may do a spring sampler, too, while I decide whether to work on some UFO's (UnFInished Objects) or start something new. There are another couple of big blue angels I like a lot.


So it's quiet, and cold, and I'm fine. Now I will go back to bed.


January 20

Why is it that when you don't feel good, things always go haywire?  I got into FrontPage a few minutes ago to write a short entry here and discovered that my borders had been totally trashed last night...and I do mean totally! However, this time instead of trying to just move a couple of files from the laptop, I moved the whole borders folder...and it seems to have worked!! At least there isn't a list of every file this file has ever pointed to down the left-hand side.


I still do not feel good, and finally this afternoon I remembered to take my temperature (when I hadn't just eaten or drunk something) and I found out why - my temperature was 100.8º! So I put in a call for help and my antibiotics have just arrived and I took my first dose. Shortly I will go upstairs to bathe and take some Robitussin DM and go back to bed. Yes, I have to bathe. The coughing has been causing some - ahem - side effects, and at least once a day I have to clean myself up thoroughly.


It's too cold to go out anyway, but it's even colder in Copper Harbor, and it's been snowing all day with high winds. The winds are keeping the snow off the deck, but you can see that the juniper in the yard is getting more and more covered. I mean, 5º with 30 mph winds is not comfortable!


I got most of my telephoning done today, except for the electrician, who won't be in until tomorrow. Things do go more slowly in Keweenaw. Of course, by the time I get him to send somebody to look at the generator, he may not be able to get there. It drifts over pretty badly in the hollow, although Keweenaw drivers are pretty resourceful. I hope they are, because my gas tanks were about 60% full the other day, and should probably be filled up.


So that is all I have to report. I thought I'd better do a journal lest some people begin to worry because I said I was sick. You know who you are. This too will pass, now that I've broken down and got my drugs.


So that's how it is in the cold field in exile.


January 19

I didn't go to church this morning. I was afraid I would make so much noise I would have to spend the service in the bathroom, and I wasn't sure I could sing anyway. I still can't taste anything, and I slept for 12 hours last night (well...I was in bed for twelve hours, anyway).


I finished up my sorting today, and I have to say, after looking at three years' worth of medical bills and insurance statements, I can definitely see why health costs are so high. I can see where bills were paid twice (including by me), and yet it took me nearly two years to straighten out the consultations for the time I had the shingles. I did not find what I was looking for, but I did discover that Bon Secours Hospital screwed me twice before the item they reported to the credit bureaus.


Tomorrow I will be on the phone, to Transunion and to my lawyer, to see what, if anything, I can do now.


I will also be having a conversation with Bill's Electric.  When Tom checked with him Friday, he was out of town, and he suggested I should call myself.


I guess, on the subject of the medical bills, that the only thing one can do is scrutinize every bill, and question every item that doesn't look right. You know, that's hard to do when one is sick.


I discovered, with great wonderment, that when one has been an inpatient at Bon Secours Hospital, the first bill they send to the insurance company has one line: the total. As if any half-way respectable insurance company would pay a bill that said 7/16-7/29, total $45000 (more or less)! I mean, get real here. So every time I have been in Bon Secours Hospital, the insurance company has had to request a detailed bill before they would pay it. Of course, the bills they have actually sent me have been just as informative.


It makes me appreciate the U of M hospitals all the more: at the same time they send a detailed billing to the insurance company, they send one to me. It isn't rocket science to realize that the hospital gets reimbursed much faster that way...of course, the insurance company did pay one doctor's bill twice, but it wasn't a big one.


And I have to say that the doctor I paid twice for last summer's thing did reimburse me. I wonder what I did with the check stub - it should go with the bills.


Ah, me! This would be enough to give me a headache if I was a well person and I certainly feel lousy.


The problem is, I'm rather constrained to go to Bon Secours, because that is the only hospital where both my internists and my oncologist (and my ophthalmologist, and...you  get the idea) are on the staff. Even if I could stand to go to St. John's (which I can't - if you took me to St. John's on a shutter, I'd get up and walk out), all the rest of my doctors don't practice there.


Let me tell you, if there's anything you can do about it, it pays to stay well. I am looking forward with delight to a year where I never exceed my out-of-pocket expenses and I am getting bills from Dr. Lehman next December! And that's not only for the obvious reasons.


Ah, well. I guess I'm just as glad I'm not in Copper Harbor right now. It's been snowing like crazy since yesterday, and blowing, and the temperature has been in single digits with wind chills...brr! Baby, it's cold out there! Even  if I was interested in snowmobiles, I just don't think I'd want to go tooling around when the temperature is 10º and the wind chill is -12º, because the wind is blowing out of the north-northwest at 30 mph. It hasn't kept the snowmobilers in, I guess, but it sure would me...it might even tempt me to fire up the fireplace!


When I was a little kid, my mother and I visited my paternal grandma in Steven's Point, WI in the middle of winter. I went out in my snowsuit and started building snow castles in the banks where the sidewalks had been shoveled, and I was really put out when my mama insisted I go in...until I got inside and realized I actually was pretty cold. Sitting on the walk, I was out of the wind, and it didn't feel all that cold at all...and I guess it was actually below zero.


I guess -30º F isn't an unusual temperature for central Wisconsin, although right at this moment, it's colder here in Detroit. What weird weather we're having!  I wonder if the late start to winter in Keweenaw means spring won't come until the first of June again?


Well, I guess I'll wrap this up, because I'm having a terrible time typing, and it's getting time to indulge in a nice hot shower and a nice soft bed... Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow.


January 18

Well, my cold is still getting the better of me, although I do feel a bit better than I did yesterday. My nose is still running, and every so often I get a coughing fit, although I finally marshaled all my non-prescription remedies, and I can attest that Robitussin works, if only for about three hours. My head is hurting again, and I need to lay it back on my pillow for another 11 hours. A nice hot bath will open my sinuses, then I will hop into bed.


Yesterday was a lovely day, particularly in Copper Harbor, although it was cold. There was a lot of sunshine. There was sunshine here, too, until late in the afternoon. According to the weather forecasts, it was supposed to be colder here than there, but as it turned out they over-reacted again, and the overnight temperatures were in the low teens. However, while the temperature went up here, it went down in Copper Harbor, and it's been snowing again there. There is a winter storm advisory out for Keweenaw tonight, with a respectable amount of snow.


There is a little snow on the deck now, but it's not deep enough to cover the juniper in the garden behind the railing. About the time the sun went down here, there was a little snow on the sidewalks here, too.


I actually never got completely dressed today, because I attacked the filing of the past three years, and it was more comfortable without clothes. I'm at the point where I think I have all the medical bills together and I can begin to go through them carefully. Not my favorite sort of task, but it's necessary.


I hope to feel better in the morning, but if I am still blowing and coughing, I will have to stay home from church so I don't disrupt everything. Fortunately, most of our sopranos were there Wednesday, so it won't be a disaster if I am a no-show, but if I am, I'll miss it.


The other milestone I must mention is that I take the last of the coumadin tonight. I didn't have as much problem with it as some people do, but it did make me uncomfortable to be ingesting rat poison. Besides, it seemed that because I was bleeding easily, I got a whole lot more cuts on my hands than I would normally. Then there was the day when I didn't think my nose would stop bleeding... It's good to be over that.


So that's all the news from exile.


January 16

Another short one, because I am still feeling yucky. My toilets are all fixed and my meeting went well...or as well as can be under the circumstances. 

However, when I got home, Tom had called, because when he tested the generator, it died again. That thing is a boat anchor! So he is going to try to get the electricians there before the road closes.


It's been snowing steadily there, with temperature around 10º and winds over 20mph. There hasn't been a lot of snow, mostly because of the temperature, I think. That's also the reason there isn't much snow on the deck - it's all been blown away.


It's been cold here, but not that cold. The temperature got into the middle 20s today, but it's clear again tonight, so I suspect it will get pretty frosty over night. It was cloudy today, but most of the snow is gone.


While I was driving to and from Troy, I thought again that there are too many people around here. There had been an accident right where the freeway exit meets Big Beaver Road, and two lanes of traffic trying to turn west onto Big Beaver was backed up almost to the freeway. Of course there was one moron who pulled around the right hand lane and tried to hop around everybody. I didn't see what happened to him when he got to the cross street and found a cop with his flashers on parked there...


By the time I started home, around 3pm, there were already rush-hour conditions on I-75, with bumper-to-bumper traffic and slowdowns. It wasn't clogged up all the way to I-696, and the rest of the trip was OK, but still. There are too many people around here.


So I will get this published and put myself to bed, after I finish my turkey soup. I don't have any chicken soup, and I'm not sure turkey soup has the same effects, but it goes down pretty good.


January 15

This will be short, because I want to go to choir practice, but there are a couple of details I need to address. First, the camera was down from about 7am yesterday morning until around 4pm this afternoon. Exactly what happened, I'm not quite sure. It should have power failed overnight and been OK this morning. At this distance, it's hard to tell. I do know I had to power fail it (which I can do remotely) and wait five or ten minutes to restore power before it came up.


The reason I didn't find it yesterday is that my little cold has gotten a lot bigger, and I felt so lousy yesterday I didn't even come down into the basement. I wouldn't have today either, except that I had to get some information together for my big meeting with my financial advisers tomorrow. I still feel lousy, but I do want to go to choir practice because I expect to feel better by Sunday and I want to sing.


I did miss bible class this morning, which was a shame. However, I had a lousy night last night. I forgot about cough drops until after I was in bed, and by that time I had forgotten where I might have put them, so  I spent a lot of time awake and coughing. I opened one eye at 8:30 and decided there was no way I could get to church by 10:00, so I went back to sleep...as much as I could. I got up at 10:00 and felt much better for a while at least.


I can't blame the little kid who sneezed on me a couple of weeks ago, nor its mother, but that's the trouble with this time of year. I would have to hermetically seal myself in my house to prevent exposing myself to the winter bugs, and I'm not about to do that (if I wanted to do that, I'd have stayed in Copper Harbor!)


On that subject, I talked to both the Boosts and Philippe, and the generator is fixed - or we hoped it is. And the electrician was supposed to bill me for it. So that is under control. It's a relief.


It's been really cold both places, moreso in Copper Harbor because the wind has been over 20mph for several days. It was clear at sunset tonight, although when the camera finally got a picture, it caught the end of a snow squall.  Most of the garden is covered now, and down the peninsula there has been lots of lake effect snow over the past week. According to George Hite, we're now over 100 inches for the season. Apparently it's been very spotty, because Philippe said that at his place, on Five Mile Point Road, he can still see the weeds through the snow.


According to the Weather Underground, it's overcast in the metro area, but when I went upstairs for my dinner, the moon was shining brightly in the grade door window. And when I went out to get the mail, it's really, really cold...what they refer to as "crisp"...meaning it crisps your snotty nose. I'm really sorry I left my sheepskin lined gloves in Copper Harbor. I shall have to see what I can find in the coat closet to keep my fingers from going numb.


So that's the news from the field in exile. I will try to check in tomorrow, but I make no promises, since it depends upon how I feel by the time I get back from Troy.


January 13

It's cold outside! It's been in the mid-20s here over the past couple of days, and it's been dropping steadily in Copper Harbor, and for most of the day there it was in the single-digits. Brr!  According to the camera - and to John Dee - it's been snowing there, too, although there isn't any on the deck. I guess that's partly because the winds have been over 20mph...boy, does that lower the wind chill!


I went out today to lay in a little food, and partly because of the cold and partly because all my fleece tops are dirty and my jeans were in the basement, I dug out my cords and a wool sweater, neither of which I've worn for about three years. With my down parka, I was quite  comfortable outside, except for my hands. I took my sheepskin lined mittens to Rainbow's End and although I looked at them all summer and thought to myself that I should bring them back, of course I forgot them. I have some circulatory dysfunction (have had all my life), and my hands and feet tend to get icy and numb. The solution is mittens, or mittens over gloves. I will have to dig into the coat closet and see what I have, because it doesn't look to get too much warmer for quite a while.


The only problem with being dressed for the out-of-doors is that by the time I got through in Kroger's, between the heat and my usual problem with too much walking, I was sweating profusely. Of course, that went away when I got outside again.


The cats were very interested in the open door...until they sniffed the temperature, then they gave it a wide berth. They know which side of the door is the cozy one!


While it snowed all day (and all day yesterday) in Copper Harbor, it was sunny here for most of the day, which was a nice change. 


Other than having to pull out most of the embroidery I did yesterday, things here have been really quiet. I was working with (I thought) an extremely pale blue thread, but when I looked at it, it was clear that a strand of white had accidentally gotten into the bag with the blue, and of course I grabbed it and there is such a small difference in the colors, especially under the incandescent lights, that I didn't realize what I had done until I turned on the heat lamp last night. Grr. It's all fixed now, but as I've mentioned before, this project is going slowly enough that I don't like to be set back like that.


I have been staying up much too late, either playing games on the computer or reading, or both, so tonight I must try to get to bed earlier.


The only other item of note is that when I read my Grosse Pointe News Friday, I saw the obituary of one of the neighborhood kids I grew up with, Davey Ritter. He was only 54, and I gather from the write-up that he died of cancer. I hate it when somebody younger than me dies, but now I understand why, when I saw Davey over the past several years, he looked so bad. He lived in the house on the corner of my street, in his mother's house, just like me.


We didn't have anything to do with each other, since he was so much younger than me, but when he was a little kid, he terrorized the neighborhood. He was one of six kids, and he sort of ran wild. He was always getting into things. For quite a while, one of his things was to go around turning on everybody's outdoor water spigots. The neighbors tried to thwart him by taking off the handles, so he acquired his own handle. I think it was his bike's fender that cut a two inch gash in the back of my calf, the scar of which is still there. He wanted to ride my new bike, so he let me ride his, and it was a little kid's bike, much too small for me. The kind of stuff he got into always made me think he was too smart, and he ended up as both a lawyer and a CPA, so I guess he finally channeled it in a useful direction. He also owned a Corvette of which he was very proud, although I think he may have sold it a year or so ago, possibly because he had some idea that he didn't have much time. It's a real pity.


Anyway, that's all the news from here in exile, and I will get this published so I can hang up my fleece and get to bed.


January 11

A short one tonight, because I have to try to get to bed at some reasonable hour. Last night, it was the new version of Collapse.


It's been quiet and I haven't been doing much. Yesterday it snowed all day in Copper Harbor and sort of dribbled snow here. Today, there was snow in the morning in the harbor, and dribbles here all day (I suppose it was dribbling there, too, but I can't see that in the camera).  It has been cold - teens and lower 20s, and very windy up north. If only that wind would blow some more snow on Keweenaw!


Apparently my generator is fixed, because I got a bill from the electrician today - which I wasn't supposed to. All that was supposed to be run through Philippe. I will have to call him on Monday and see what he wants me to do with this bill. However, now I will have to call Tom and tell him, just in case he didn't know. So it may have been the electrician in my mystery picture of the other day, although what he was doing on the deck, I don't know.


The lack of snow isn't keeping all the snowmobilers away. The late-twilight picture caught somebody coming down from the top of Brockway. That is the part of the road you can see clearly when it's snow covered and the sky is bright. It's a very steep, twisty  slope down, and I'm not so sure I'd want to ride it in a snowmobile during the day, let alone at night! If you're not really careful, you could end up missing a switchback and falling a couple of hundred feet into the trees - not fun.


We don't have more than a dusting of snow on the ground here, but from the pictures yesterday, Copper Harbor probably got a few inches. The flower beds aren't completely covered, but the ice out in front is. There isn't any snow on the deck. 


What weird weather!


So that is all I know, and I will try to make myself go to bed.


January 9

Yesterday was church day, with bible class in the morning and choir in the evening, so that's my excuse for no journal. Besides that, all I did was some filing. I did some more filing today, and assured myself that I did indeed never receive a bill from anybody for the item that was reported to the credit bureaus. That eases my mind somewhat, although in the course of gathering up what I'd been doing, I lost one of the pieces of paper I had found. Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning in a sea of paper. My bedroom looks like it, too.


The weather has been weird. Yesterday it was in the 40s in Copper Harbor, with gorgeous clear skies until sunset, while it was cloudy and 30-something here. However, by today, things had more or less righted themselves, as an arctic howler descended on Lake Superior. The temps were in the teens and the winds were in the mid-20mph range. There was some lake effect snow, but not enough to coat the deck. Here, we had some sunshine and 40-ish temperatures, although it clouded up in the later part of the afternoon. I guess the temps are supposed to crash here overnight.


It was a pretty day in Copper Harbor yesterday, but I didn't do a picture, because it looked about like it did on Tuesday. I kept a couple from today. The first one shows what light lake effect snow looks like (I hope to be able to show you heavy lake effect snow real soon). The second one is a mystery. Clearly, there was someone (something?) on my deck right before 4pm. It wasn't there at 3:40 and it wasn't there at 4:10. It almost looks fuzzy, except that whatever it was, was so close to the window that it is completely out of focus and I really can't tell.


I've been going to call Tom and ask him if the electrician ever came to fix the generator, so I guess I will have to do that tomorrow. I'm pretty sure it wasn't Tom, because he drives the school bus, and he would have been on the road at that time. Times like this when I really wish I wasn't 600 miles away!


I think I have come down with a little cold. I've had a runny nose and scratchy throat since Saturday or Sunday, and now I feel really tired and headachy. I actually didn't sleep very well last night, which is usually also a good sign that I have something. It's practically impossible to avoid these things unless one is a hermit, and I seem to have a vague recollection of a child sneezing in my vicinity sometime in the past couple of weeks, which would have done it. I also confess to shirking my hand washing, which will also do it, as I know only too well. Just because my immune system isn't very compromised any more doesn't mean that I can go walking around in stores and handling shopping carts and things without washing my hands before I eat. That's only good hygiene, and I should never forget it.


So I will drag myself upstairs (did I or did I not clean off the bed before I came down?) and put myself to bed.


January 7

Now, remember, I said I might not update the journal every day once I got away from the field. I didn't report yesterday because there was nothing to report. The weather was blah, I slept forever, and I didn't do anything much except get the pans out of the sink and onto the counter. Now all I have to do is put them away...except that knowing how I hate to wash dishes, I will inspect them thoroughly to be sure they are clean when I put them away. Every time I don't do that, I take a pan out of the cupboard to use it and discover I didn't do too good a job of washing the last time I used them.


Today, I got up late as usual and did a lot of embroidery, but I had a blood test at the doctor's office, so I went off and did that...it's fine, and I can stop the coumadin when I run out in a couple of weeks. That will be a relief. It will be nice not to bleed like crazy at every paper cut and bruise at every fall of a pot lid...some time before Christmas, the heavy glass lid of my big cast iron dutch oven slipped off and dropped right on my left big toe. I thought it fell on the joint where my bunion is, because I that's what hurt at the time, but my big toe turned the most remarkable colors that are only now nearly gone. It would surely have bruised anyway, but not like that! I guess the only consolation is that it was a glass lid and not the cast iron lid of the one at Rainbow's End! I'd still be purple!


I also attacked the filing again, and I found the other paper I was looking for. The last year or year and a half's worth of stuff is now in a Sterlite box again, but in file jackets by category, so all I have to do is take one at a time and sort it.  I also have a trash bag full of stuff...and I haven't even taken most of the stuff I saved out of envelopes yet.  I hate to file, I admit it, but the volume of stuff I feel the need to keep is just outrageous. There is one 3" file jacket that is stuffed to overflowing with the miscellaneous papers that I don't think I should throw out but I don't know what to do with. This is besides the paid bills, medical bills, investment reports, etc., etc., etc.!  Help...I'm drowning in a sea of paper!!  I believe I've said that before.


It was medium cold and medium cloudy here today...mid 30s or so. Curiously enough, it was  a lot colder in Lansing and over 40º in Copper Harbor. It was also pretty clear in the afternoon. Oh, how I wish I were there...especially since I actually could still get in and out!  How I love that place!


I know it was colder in Lansing because WKAR has finally gotten back to full power...after about six months of fiddling around with a new antenna for their digital TV station...and I can now reliably hear them on the regular stereo system. I still have a problem with fading, but I think there is a wiring problem with the components that I'm just too lazy to try to fix.  


This is the old but fantastic McIntosh system my dad bought in 1978 that the technician at Pecar Electronics just about went crazy over one time when I had to take part of it in for repairs.  It probably needs more work, but again, I'm too lazy to take it in. 


Anyway, I can finally hear classical music and NPR news for most of the day with only occasional intrusions from the absolutely horrible so-called Christian station in Ohio.  If I was a non-believer or nebulous about faith, after hearing those people, I think I'd probably go out and become a Muslim or a Wicca. It's so nice not to have to hear that garbage anymore, or have to turn off the radio because they were drowning out WKAR.  


WKAR is my only refuge, because it and WGTE in Toledo (which I can't get even as well as Lansing) are the only two classical music stations in the southeast Michigan area. The Canadian station doesn't play all classical, and I don't like a lot of their programming anyway, and those three are my only choices. The refugees from the last commercial classical station finally gave up on finding an open slot on the FM band and have gone totally web-based. That wouldn't bee bad except that the computer is in the basement and I can't hear it from the second floor.


Right now, I am enjoying Schubert's ninth with the Detroit Symphony, both on the stereo and on the computer.  The web broadcast is 30 seconds or so delayed from the FM broadcast, which means at the top of the stairs it sounds pretty weird, but otherwise I can hear wherever I am. Every time I hear the DSO I think what a pity classical CD producers are so weird. The DSO is a really, really good orchestra, but they can't get a recording contract, while we get absolutely tons of stuff from second-rate European orchestras.


Well, back where I started. From the pictures you can see that our end of Copper Harbor is frozen over, but there really isn't much snow. John says we are heading into a period of colder temperatures, and that will crank up the lake effect machine...or at least he hopes so. I hope so, too, for the sake of my friends. According to George Hite, there has only been 68" of snow in Keweenaw County this whole winter, which is not good!


Well, the symphony is over, and I'm out of things to write about, and Buster has just reappeared, so I will wrap this up for now.


January 5

Well, the pans are still in the sink, but I had a nice visit with an old family friend whom I have not seen in a long time. She lost her husband early in the spring and her brother in October, and I wanted to see her. Actually, she is the lady whose Tetrazzini recipe I was looking for, but she called me before I could call her.


The camera seems to have been down almost all day - sorry, folks, and thanks, Charlie - but I did get one picture out of it to prove that it's actually snowing in Keweenaw! It's about time! The temps were apparently in the middle 20s there, but it got over freezing here. I guess we're supposed to get some snow here tonight, too, but not much. Well, January in Michigan, you know...


I actually got to bed before 11pm last night, but I didn't sleep very well. I think it was because it was a little warmer outside so it was quite warm inside. One of the disadvantages of living in a vertical house is that all the heat goes up, while the thermostat is on the first floor. The furnace kept coming on because it was cool in the dining room, but every time it did, I got hot in bed. I know, picky, picky, picky. So I have a contrary body.


The Tetrazzini was just as good tonight as it was yesterday, and besides it passed the DC test, so I guess it's a keeper of a recipe, if I ever decide to make such a mess again.  Tomorrow I have to wash up the pans and I will probably divide up the Tetrazzini and freeze a lot of it. No use letting it go to waste (waist? low-calorie it's not).


The DSL was misbehaving tonight, so I took a deep breath and re-booted and everything came up OK, so whatever the problem was that I had last week, it's gone for now. Computers certainly can be balky. Well...I should say everything but Norton. For some reason, it took a long time to start up completely, and before it did, ad blocking was turned off.


So that's it from the field in exile. I hope to get to bed at a reasonable hour tonight, too, and begin to get back on a human schedule.


January 4

Whew! I'm not sure I'll ever do that again! The Tetrazzini was pretty good, if I do say so myself. I sort of created a recipe from about six others, and it isn't exactly like any of them. Now if I can remember what I did...  It makes a boatload, and one problem I had was that when I got it into a 9x13 baking dish, it was clear that it would boil over in the oven, so I had to decant it into a 10x14 pan, which, fortunately, my mama left me. Doing the recipe also left almost every other pot in the kitchen dirty, so I have a wash-up job. Pots, especially big ones, don't fit in my dishwasher too well, so I usually do them by hand, and I have four pots, a bunch of measuring cups and all kinds of utensils from a whisk to a wooden spoon...and that 9x13 inch baking dish. If I do ever make it again, the only thing I will do differently is make more sauce. It's a little dry, and the recipe that said to use 4 cups of broth and 3 cups of milk was right.


Anyway, I now have a nice big batch of Tetrazzini. I will eat some now and freeze some for later.  One reason I made it is that the frozen Tetrazzini just doesn't turn me on much, and besides you get about a cupful in those frozen dinner packages. I find it is like a lot of other pasta-based dishes - wonderful comfort food.


That was pretty much the sum total of my activity for today. I went to bed around midnight, but I didn't get up until 10:30. I got in my 10½ hours of sleep, but I started a little late...Then I started creating the working recipe before breakfast, so I didn't get back upstairs until well after noon.  I was going to work on my sorting again, but I had a bunch of bills to pay, and by the time I finished that, it was time to come downstairs and compute....


Because of the computing, I started my cooking a little late, and didn't eat until about 8pm...the fashionable hour, as my mama used to say. That seems to happen a lot lately. At least it's only 9pm now, so maybe, just maybe, I'll get upstairs early enough to turn out the light at a reasonable hour. I've said many times that my natural period is more than 24 hours, and I've been indulging myself lately. Unfortunately, the rest of the world runs on 24 hour time, so if I want to do anything, I will have to get myself back on schedule.


The weather was dreary and cold here, but it was another beautiful day in Copper Harbor. The temperature was in the upper 20s both places. As you can see from the pictures, by sunset the clouds were moving in up there, and I guess they are supposed to get some snow over the next few days. I hope to be able to save a few pictures when it's snowing so hard you can't see beyond the porch railing. It seems clear from the daytime pictures that the harbor is covered with clear ice all the way out to the end of lighthouse point. I guess eventually it may freeze all over, but the space between lighthouse point and Porter Island would be last, because that is where the current from the lake comes in.


Oh, the computer is still OK, although I've been a little reluctant to reboot it. One of these days, the DSL will get screwed up and I'll have to, and then we'll see.


The only other happening of the day was the interesting and very official sounding email I got which said that msn had lost my accounting information and would I either call a number or go to a website to re-enter it.  They warned that there might be a 45 minute wait on the phone line, so of course everybody would go to the website. Well...the page didn't look like anything I have ever seen from msn, it wanted all my information, including my password twice, and my credit card information, and as best I could tell, it was not a secure site, so I called. The number I got was the tech support line, and apparently they had gotten a lot of calls, because they sent me to the customer support line...where the nice young lady claimed she hadn't heard about the email, but all my account information was certainly in order. It never ceases to amaze me to what lengths the hackers (they're calling them crackers now, to distinguish them from white-hat hackers) will go to to steal people's userids and credit card accounts. I guess it pays to be paranoid these days.


So that was my day. I wore myself out and got very sweaty doing my cooking, so I think I will hie myself up to the upper story pretty soon now.


January 3

Gaak ! I'm beginning to wonder if I'm snakebit!  While trying to get today's pictures onto a page, I must have hit some strange key, and the page name got into the menu on the left...then I discovered I couldn't get rid of it, I had to delete the entire menu and put it back! I tried to recover the borders from yesterday, but FrontPage apparently won't let you just modify one file, so I had to try to do it over again and put the links back. If you find anything strange about the navigation, please let me know.


However, whatever I did when I played around with booting from the floppy, so far the system seems OK again. I did a disk defrag over night, and that worked, and so far the mouse has worked fine. Whatever it was, it looks like it might be cured.


I went to bed a tad earlier last night (around midnight), but I slept just as late. Before I went back upstairs after breakfast, I started the turkey stock, which is now cooling, but I didn't get to the tetrazzini. By the time the stock was ready, I just didn't feel like fooling around any more. Maybe tomorrow...


The snow stopped around 10pm, I think, with not more than two or three inches. My lawn and snow guy was here before midnight, which was great, except the plow didn't do the street until this morning, which means there is a nice mound across the end of my driveway. I'll have to point out to Marty that he can be too diligent.


Debbie had said she might see me today, but I suspect that she decided not to go out because of the snow.


It was cloudy and dreary all day again, with an occasional flake coming down, and temperature topping out around 30º. In Copper Harbor, it was colder, but absolutely gorgeous - unless you really wanted snow. It was mostly clear all day long, and the view across the harbor at the end of twilight was the one I love most...and there was even a snowmobile up on the mountain with its light reflected in the harbor! See? It looks to me like our end of the harbor is covered with a skin of clear ice, but I can't tell how far out it goes. It would surprise me if it wasn't - it was pretty cold and calm last night.


I spent some time today starting to sort the boxes, bags, envelopes and piles of papers I've accumulated, and in the course of  it all, I found most of the stuff I was looking for. I still have a very long way to go to get things under control, but coming into the new year seems to have jolted me out of my funk, and I am going to try hard to get everything sorted out. It turns out that I have at least two years, maybe three, of papers to file. Every time I get into this, I vow it will be different this year, and the longest I've managed to keep things under control is about nine months. I brought a whole file box of stuff home from Copper Harbor, and there is another one on the floor on the other side of the bed that I think has the 2000 - 2001 stuff in it, but I'm not sure.


Part of what prompted this is that I need the statement Social Security sends every year, but I was also looking for one particular medical bill - which I didn't find. That is the one that was turned over to a collection agency without the hospital ever billing me or the insurance company, which has, it turns out, done a number on my credit rating. I'm not sure there is such a bill, but I seem to recall something of the sort, and if so, I would have made a note on it that I want to read.


It has suddenly occurred to me that I haven't eaten dinner yet, and then I have to clean off the bed so I can sleep in it, so I will wrap this up. How I wish I could have been there to see today in Copper Harbor!


January 2

Eek! It's the attack of the computer gremlins! What an un-nice way to start a new year!


Yesterday, while I was (I think) in Excel, the mouse started acting funny and when I tried to modify a page address in IE, all I could get was the entire line. When I got out of everything and rebooted, the computer came up in safe mode, but when I booted again, it was OK. Today the same thing happened again, but I couldn't get out of safe mode, no matter what. There is this frustrating "HelpSpot" on this computer, and its final suggestion (after I used GoBack several times, etc.) was that I reinstall Windows. Like, sure, after having the system for two years, I'm going to do that.


However, they did suggest I create a startup diskette and try restoring the old registry, so that sounded a lot less drastic. When I booted from the diskette, to my dismay, it couldn't find my hard drive! Every time I said "c:", it said "Invalid drive specification". Whoa! I'd just been reading that drive!


So I shut the system down and restarted it...and it read the hard drive and came up just fine. It sounds suspiciously like I have a hardware problem, doesn't it? I think I will disable all the power saving functions and run a thorough disk scan tonight, and see what tomorrow brings.


This sort of thing puts me in panic mode, because I haven't backed up my files to the laptop in a while. I will do that after I get through here. Besides, I was trying to get my 2002 ledger wrapped up and my 2003 ledger set up. I ended up not doing either, because November seems to be out of balance, there is an entry hidden somewhere in it I can't find, and after I had carefully entered all of December, including the list of all my miscellaneous charities, that file seems to have gotten lost in all the GoBacks and go forwards, and it looks like it did when I started. At that point, I closed Excel and decided to try again tomorrow.


I was a good girl this afternoon and didn't play any solitaire, with the idea that maybe I wouldn't get trapped by a wily computer and then stay up until 2am reading again, like I have the past two nights. Well...So it's now 9pm and I haven't finished this yet. There are days one should just sit quietly and embroider or read, I guess.


I did get out to get my carrots, so tomorrow I can create turkey stock. That's my favorite way to make something out of nothing, and the tetrazzini will taste better if the sauce has some stock in it. 


It was dark and dreary all day here, and it started snowing about 3pm. By 5pm, when I came back downstairs, there was at least an inch on the ground and it was coming down pretty good.  The only NPR station I can get upstairs is WDET, and they were reporting traffic accidents all over the metro area...we have so little snow around here, usually, that all the morons never learn how to drive in it. It's times like this when I am really thankful that I don't work any more and have to drive 30 miles through the rush hours. It was cold, too - mid 20s - so the snow was light and fluffy.


It was cold in Copper Harbor, too, but it certainly didn't snow! Here is the sunset shot. It was almost that clear all day, with the sun shining and only a few high clouds earlier in the day.  Several of the pictures around 3 to 4pm looked really strange, because the sun is slowly beginning its crawl north and it was glancing off the slider and pouring through the south windows, which reflects on the inside of the slider.  It was beautiful, but they really need snow. John says the next couple of weeks look hopeful, and I hope he's right.


It's not that I'm so pro-snowmobile. I feel about them about the same way I feel about motorcycles, and for the same reasons - they make an awful lot of noise, and some of the people who ride them are barbarians - but this is my friends' livelihoods we're talking about. Sometimes one has to make little sacrifices, like of one's silence. The other thing about the snow is the amount of moisture in it.  Our trees need all that moisture to keep them growing and healthy. I know the one winter when they had very little snow at all, there were a lot of sick looking trees in the forests, that never leafed out completely. With the very rocky soil (if you can call it that) in most of Keweenaw, a constant supply of water is a must.


However, today is a day when I really wish I'd been at Rainbow's End, sitting in my desk chair just soaking up the rays and looking out at the harbor. How beautiful it was! Well, about 4 months...


January 1, 2003 - New Year's Day

Amazing. While I was busy doing other things and I wasn't looking, a whole year has passed and we are now starting on a new one. Time is passing too fast! When I retired, I hoped that if I wasn't working, I would have lots of time to do some of the things I hadn't been able to do, but, well...I've been able to do a few of those things, like a lot more embroidery, and setting up and running this web site, and some beadwork, but there are so many things I'd hoped to do that there just isn't time for. It hasn't helped that as time flows by me faster, it seems to take me longer to do practically everything.


  Time, like an ever flowing stream,

Bears all its sons away.

They lie forgotten as a dream

Dies at the opening day.


Well, anyway. I stayed up reading until all hours of the morning, got up late and ate a nice brunch. My embroidery is coming along well, but I'm on a picky part now, with a stitch here and there of every color, which means lots of counting and lots of concentration, so it's going even slower than usual. I had finally gotten my Daytimers insert for 2003, so I spent some time this afternoon reorganizing my planner and trying to take out some stuff, things like the calculator that has stopped working and a lot of blank note pages. It is a 2" binder, and I have it stuffed pretty full, but it's now thin enough that I can zip it shut a little easier. 


I hate planners - I hate even the idea of planners - but I just can't do without one, even as a carefree retiree. So I added a few things this year - all the moon phases, and the equinoxes and solstices, to start - and I may add some more interesting stuff as the year goes on. I've always wanted to try to use it to keep track of the daily temperatures and weather conditions, but I am simply not amenable to organization enough to actually sit down and write those things. That's why it's amazed me some that I have been able to keep up this journal. To actually sit down on a daily basis and write something non-fiction is a discipline I never thought I had. While my entries are certainly not earthshaking, at least I've been able to get myself to do it.


As to the weather, it has been cloudy and dreary both in Copper Harbor and here, although there was a little snow on the deck in Copper Harbor today, and it's been warmer here. The forecasts, however, say we are under a winter storm watch and they may not get any snow at all. John was sounding hopeful today, however, so I can hope they begin to get the snow they need in Keweenaw. If we do get the snow they are predicting for here, it will be a good time to stay home. Snow is OK if you're in the north or you don't have to go anyplace, but is the absolute pits in a city as big and full of cars trying to go someplace regardless of the weather. I can still remember vividly some of my trips to or from work in the snow, and it was no fun at all. If it snows, I will hibernate and smile serenely out my windows, watching it come down. I should go and get some carrots (which I forgot) so I can proceed to the turkey stock, but maybe if I can go fairly early tomorrow, I will miss the snow.


It's not that I don't like snow, and I really don't mind driving in it, so long as I'm not surrounded by the idiots who usually end up on the roads around here. I wasn't upset or nervous at all coming back from Copper Harbor in the blizzard, because there wasn't much traffic, and what there was seemed to know what it was doing...well, I'm not sure I would have driven a semi at 65 mph between Marquette and Munising, because I could tell while I was following him that there was a little more play in my rear wheels than I like to feel, but it sure was a convenient way for me to make time.


One of the things I put in the planner was a target date of May 9 (a Friday) for my spring move. It's actually a lot too early to plan that, because I can't go until Lighthouse Road is open, but it's a convenient target. Depending on conditions, I can go earlier (wouldn't that be nice!) or later depending on conditions. Makes me wish I could leave all those clothes right in the living room till I pack up again, but I need to sort first. Only 4 months...


Also only 4 months to try to get my legs sort of in shape, which isn't really very long.


Well, I was listening to Harold In Italy, which has now given way to Debussy, which I don't like so well, so I will get this published and give some thought to going to bed a tad earlier tonight.


Last  updated 08/04/11 08:45 PM