A View From the Field









April, 2003


April 26

I think this will be short, but while I am waiting for the down parka to dry, I thought I would try to upload the latest and greatest version of the gallery. I split off all the pictures for 2001 and 2002 and put them on separate pages, in chronological order (I think), leaving only old stuff in the gallery, plus thumbnail-links to the pictures for each year. So at least you should be able to see all the pictures for last year, instead of only through August 4. I also put thumbnail-links to pages containing links to the webcam pictures I've saved each year...or they will eventually contain those links. Right now, the pages are blank, because I finished with the rest of it at 2:30 this morning and I was tired. I want to get what I've done uploaded, because it will take a while, and I hope anybody who finds broken links (or any other problems) will please tell me so I can fix them. I know how annoying it can be to not find a page, and I'd like my site not to have any problems of that sort. It is a big job to keep the site up-to-date in the summer when I am taking pictures (and uploading at about 24kb), and since I let it slide at the end of the year, it was an even bigger task to get most everything in order again. I will try to remember that this year when I'm tired and trying to put out a journal full of pictures. I know of a couple of people who do come to the site frequently who are kind enough to check up behind me...my testing group. A big thank-you to them in advance. Several weird things have happened in the past couple of years when ole' fast-fingers got working full speed.


Debbie stopped by on Wednesday with a dozen hard-boiled eggs and we had a long conversation about her cancer (which I had in 1984). Friday she emailed me to say that the surgery had been rescheduled for Tuesday. That's good for her - less time to wait and stew - but the eye exam I scheduled in January (!) is that afternoon, and there isn't any way I can reschedule it. I wish I could go with her, just for moral support, but she has a couple of other good friends who will probably do that.


I spent yesterday afternoon at the computer and washing, and I finished up the washing this afternoon. Having the laundry chute into the basement is actually not a good idea, because I just throw things down and forget them, until I run out of underwear or jeans (which I had), and when I have to wash, I have a ton of stuff. I think it was about 7 loads, with the fleece and the parka. In Copper Harbor, I have a modest rolling laundry station with three bags that fits into my walk-in closet, and when the bags get full, I wash, which is a lot more frequently than I do here. Of course, the laundry is on the first floor, too, so I can be in the office or the kitchen doing something else between loads.


The computer thing was another one of those PC problems that leave me tearing my hair. I decided that I would beat on the CD drive until I had written all the raw pictures I had saved (about 220mb worth), so I can get them all off three computers. Well. That took over three hours to accomplish, during which I found out a lot of things I don't like. It seems the CD writing programs will not work properly unless they are loaded at startup time. I had disabled them, along with a lot of other junk, because as the computer was delivered me, it had over 40 programs loaded at startup, most of which are useless. Jon Hopper put me onto that when he stripped down the system in Copper Harbor for the winter of 2001-2002. Someplace out in the internet are a couple of sites with lists of all the known software that may try to load at startup time and whether it's necessary or not. It turns out that the CD writing stuff is only necessary when I want to write a CD, so I can disable them, and reboot when I want to use them. Sort of a pain, but it explains (I guess) a lot of the problems I had. Now, why it would be necessary for them to start then is beyond my comprehension, but there is an awful lot of garbage software in the PC world.


The other interesting problem I encountered (by the way, I trashed two CD-Rs in the process of getting one good one) is that it is not possible to add to a directory that is already on a CD. The software writes a new directory with every session, and Windows Explorer can only see the last one written. This is pretty inconvenient, frankly, and it's going to mean I will have a lot of partially-full CDs around eventually. However...


I finally got all 316 files onto a CD, and both this PC and the laptop can read them, so I accomplished something and learned something.


There are actually two programs, and before I decide how to save things in the long run I want to try them both and see how they work. I'll probably use up several CD-Rs, but they are under $1 a piece, so I guess I'll just have to chalk it up to a learning experience. I don't intend to delete the files from this PC until I am absolutely certain that the one in Copper Harbor can read the CDs (and write them), but I was able to delete them from the laptop.


All that was why I got such a late start (and finish) on the website. I just decided I was going to do the major work on it and I didn't want to stop in the middle. So now the parka is dry enough to hang up, it's 10:30, and I'm tired again. Besides, I have to be at church at 10:00 tomorrow to practice, since there was no choir practice this week.


So I will hope this new stuff uploads quickly.


13 days...Agggkk!!!!


April 22

Golly, two days in a row! What's going to happen!


However, I wanted to document that the oncologist said I am fine, and agreed with me that my quality of life is much better than it would have been if I hadn't had the transplant (in which case, I probably wouldn't be here).


Debbie saw him this afternoon, and as a result, she has decided to have a lumpectomy and radiation. The surgery will be May 2. She is still pretty wired, but she says she feels better now that she has made her decision. I know the feeling. And actually, that course of treatment is probably easier on her than the alternatives. The surgery isn't really horrible, like a mastectomy can be (I won't go into the troubles I had), and while radiation is no fun, it is usually somewhat easier than chemo.


Oh, yes, and Dr. Lehman thinks he has something on me because of the mediport. Ha!  We'll just let it lie until he brings it up, then Whamo! right between the eyes! I would have had the thing out last April if he'd been a little stronger in his recommendation. Anyway, he is a good guy even though he is a wise ass.


I also got my teeth cleaned this afternoon, and afterward, I finally got to Damman Hardware (and forgot one of the things I wanted to get - grr!). I had been hoping to acquire some medium-large pots both for here and for Copper Harbor, but their shelves were almost bare and it almost like they were discontinuing their pots and pans. I did get the other things I wanted, and got away with a reasonably small amount of money.


The pot thing came up when I realized that the only thing I have that's big enough to boil pasta in is my soup pot, and it's too big. So I need about a 6 or 8 quart pot for both places, a 4 quart pot for Copper Harbor, and I'd really like a 1 quart pot for Copper Harbor. I have the 4 quart and 1 quart here, and they are ideal for small quantities of pasta and rice, respectively. Slowly I will acquire the right stuff. I guess I will have to wait until I get up north and try WalMart. The ideal thing would be to take a trip up to Birch Run, but I just don't have time, so I will make do.


Tomorrow Debbie is coming (she has hard boiled eggs for me), and I really must do something about the kitchen and do some wash. I'm running out of underwear, finally, and it is nearly impossible to walk across the kitchen floor. There isn't any choir practice this week, so I don't have to worry about timing. 


It was a cloudy, breezy and cool day here today. It was very sunny and pretty in Copper Harbor, but not very warm - mid 30s. However, while it was cloudy for the past week or so, the sun has moved so far north that is setting completely out of the picture on the right, and there is 14 hours of daylight there. The sun is actually setting after the camera goes off, so until I get there and reset the timers, there won't be any more evening twilight pictures.


I did take a walk out into my backyard today, and the roses are beginning to break dormancy. My little star magnolia is still alive, sort of, but it isn't going to bloom this year. I'm not too sure what its trouble is, but it's between two big bushes and it may not get enough light and nourishment. The big thing I noticed is that somebody cut down my flowering quince right at the fence line - just hacked it off. I don't think the gardeners would do that, so I wonder if maybe the neighbor behind did it. If so, it's actionable. I like that bush, and it's one that I always like to see bloom. It is going to have a few flowers, but it really looks bad, with all the big stems just chopped off at the same height. Besides, people don't have the right to go into other people's yards and cut things down just because they don't like them. I will have to see if I can talk to the gardeners and find out what they know.


So that is all the news of the day, and it's time for bed.


April 21

All right, all right, I'll do a journal! When two people want to know if I'm OK, I guess it's been too long. I am fine, and there has been nothing much to report...or at least nothing I cared to talk about.


The weather has been hot and cold and hot and cold and you never know, from one day to the next, what will happen. Especially when the weather service starts talking about severe thunderstorms and we have about five drops of rain...Oh, the sky is falling - again!


After fooling around with potassium and lasix and getting nowhere, I told the doctor I was going back to the old meds and to forget I told him about my feet. He suggested trying to keep my feet elevated (not so easy as it may sound) and agreed that trying to get more exercise might help. If they are still so bad when I get here next November, I will go see him then and we can fool around some more. I didn't like how I felt when my potassium went down, and I don't want that to happen when I am 45 miles from the nearest hospital and questionable doctors.


I did a lot of singing - Wednesday practice, Thursday morning, Friday night and two services Sunday. It wasn't all that warm outside yesterday morning, but when we got into the choir loft, it was so hot I was dripping before we even started singing, and I was all wet by the end of the service, so I sat in the choir room with all the windows open and the ceiling fans on and cooled down between services. They had opened the windows and it was better the second service until right at the end (all that hot air, you know). So that came out well.


I could have done a journal Thursday, but I didn't feel like it. Debbie's pathology report came back, and it wasn't good. The lump was cancerous, so she is now considering her options and trying to decide how best to treat it. She will see Lehman tomorrow afternoon and discuss the thing with him. She probably doesn't need a mastectomy, but they do have to do something to check her lymph nodes - that's the only way to determine whether it has spread or not. And she will have to have radiation. 


I've said before that when people get stressed, their immune systems get zapped and nasty things are likely to happen, and heaven knows she has been stressed for the last few years, between hauling me around and having both her parents die. But it's such a shame.


So I didn't feel much like talking to the journal. I still don't.


Yesterday, I was so wiped out after all the singing, and then I spent the afternoon with Carol and some other very nice people, and I was so tired when I got home that I went to bed about 9 pm.  Today, I trundled over to the bank and found my birth certificate (to apply for Social Security - I still have a hard time believing I'm that old!), then I laid in some cat food and me-food, and by the time I was done with that, it was time to come down and throw away my 30 spam emails.


As soon as I'm in a position to check my access to my other email accounts I am going to begin to change my external email address with the idea of dropping my MSN account entirely. They aren't doing anything for me, now that pastynet has local numbers in Detroit, but I want to keep that address as clean as I can. Anybody who has emailed me through the address on the "Mission" page won't have a problem, but if you've picked up the "reply" address I've been using when I'm at Champine, you might have a problem. I expect it will take me some months to get everything switched over, but MSN simply won't secure their account lists, and I am tired of every pornographer and every purveyor of questionable drugs, loans, and get-rich-quick schemes getting me on their send lists. I don't (and never have) used any of their so-called "added value" features, so I don't see any reason to stay with them. If I can access my ameritech account from pastynet dialup, then I can drop MSN easily and save myself a few dollars, too.


I got one dress hemmed in time to wear it yesterday, and the other one is ready for the hand work, and I only have about five fairly small needlework pictures to mount, so that is coming along.  Tomorrow I see Lehman and the dental hygienist, so that will be out of the way. I am beginning to  make mental lists of things I have to do and look over the things I need to pack to do and wear over the summer. It would be nice to clean up the house a bit before I go, but if anything doesn't get done, it will be that.


I mean, I only have 18 days....whee!


Oh, yes, they patched up my skylight, but it hasn't rained since, so I don't know if it worked.


The forsythia is out, the magnolias are showing color, a few daffodils and crocuses are out, and there is one big estate on Lakeshore Drive that has about half an acre of scilla along their driveway, and it was all out. The buds are swelling on the pear tree and the lilac. So in spite of the fact that we have had some pretty cool weather, and some ice, spring is coming to southeastern lower Michigan.


So those are the dull little details of life in exile. Things should get more exciting soon, as I try to get everything done that needs to be done here before the spring migration.


April 10

Debbie's surgery went very well - almost a no-brainer - and the surgeon said he couldn't see anything worrisome, so now we wait until next week to see what the pathology report says. 


The reason I said on Tuesday that I thought my potassium might be low is that while I was sitting and embroidering, I kept getting light-headed, and I felt blah all day long. By golly, I was right, and we are now fiddling with diuretics and potassium, and I have to go and get another blood test as early as possible tomorrow morning so the doctor can decide what to do over the weekend.


I am thinking seriously about telling him to forget I ever told him about my feet and go back to things as they were. I was feeling fine until I got into this.


I did feel a bit better yesterday afternoon, but I was still up frequently overnight, although only about every 2 hours, and I am doing better today. 


Sometimes it is just not worth it to rock the boat.


Choir was a marathon last night, and probably that is part of the reason I slept better - I was exhausted when I got home.


Today, I finished up Debbie's birthday present, went to Joann's for a bread cloth to embroider for Carol and some backing material for the last angel, to the watch repair shop for a battery for my every-day watch, and to the supermarket for food. Whew! Now I am exhausted again, and as soon as I finish this, I will toddle off to bed.


I feel a little better about the weather than I did on Tuesday. Both yesterday and today the temperatures here and in Copper Harbor have gotten into the 50s with lots of sunshine. The only snow left here is on the north sides of things, and there has been a lot of melting at Copper Harbor, too. The juniper which has been buried since January is becoming visible again. Maybe I'll make it after all.


The sunset picture tonight was a pretty one, and it shows another step north for the sun - it is now setting right off the end of Lighthouse point, and in another few days it will be behind the lighthouse.


Speaking of the lighthouse, according to George Hite, the light is out, and the Coast Guard is having trouble finding money to repair it and the Eagle Harbor lighthouse, so there is a finite chance I won't have to contend with a green light blinking in my eyes all night this summer. I'll miss it if that's so, it has given me a comforting feeling, but it will certainly be darker. When I was looking at stars or Northern Lights for the past two years, I had to position myself so that the light didn't blink in my eyes or shield my eyes with my hand. The only thing is, I think it was the lighthouse generator that always warned me when the power was out and when it came back on.


I've wondered for some time now whether, with all the electronics the lake freighters must carry these days, the lighthouses were really necessary anymore, but if they do stay out, I will be sorry to see them go. The one in Copper Harbor has been a fixture for close to 150 years, and I like having something so permanent around.


So that is all the news there is from the field in exile. It was nice to tick off several chores today (we won't talk about putting away everything I bought!), and I just remembered that my bed is covered with stuff, too, so I will end this


29 days...yie!


April 8

Well, winter just doesn't want to leave us, it seems.  We did get our winter storm - five inches or so of snow, and when I got up yesterday morning, the wind was whipping in from the east and making the backyard look like a blizzard.  It stopped snowing about noon, but Marty got one more snowplow in before he starts cutting grass. It was a little warmer today, but not much snow seems to have melted. This is getting tiresome.


The sun was shining brightly in Copper Harbor when I logged on, but it's cold there - in the 20s.


I am beginning to get anxious. I plan to get to Copper Harbor in about 31 days, and unless it gets pretty warm pretty fast, I won't be able to get down my road.


The new diuretic is doing some good - not so much as I'd hoped - but it is getting me up frequently in the night, and as a result I am not sleeping very well and I am getting tired. Today I went back to have my potassium checked, and I won't be surprised if it is low. While I was out, I picked up part of Debbie's birthday present, of which I won't say more until after her birthday just in case she should read this.


Tomorrow she is having a biopsy of a lump on one breast, and I am going to take her to the hospital. Very likely it isn't anything, but as Dr. Lehman said to her, get it out, or otherwise it will worry you until you do. After all she has been through the last couple of years, between her parents and me, she doesn't need this. I guess her husband wasn't too happy that I'm taking her, but somebody needs to be home when the kids get out of school.


I sort of partly cleaned up the kitchen, at least the stove and part of the sink counter so it isn't quite so gross. It seems I may have finally developed some permanent stains in the Formica next to the sink. Somehow, tin cans seem to have been left there several times, and between the rust and, apparently, some onion skins, I now have some nice yellow spots in my nice white counter. I am attacking them with scouring powder with bleach, but it may also take some elbow grease, if they come out at all. Oh, dear.


Since it was not a day to be crawling around on roofs yesterday, and the skylight was covered with snow anyway, the guys won't be coming to look at it until later in the week. I left a piece of paper on the floor to show where it was dripping, but I noticed this afternoon that there is also water on the counter, so as I suspected, all the paint peeling off the ceiling seems to mean something. I certainly hope they can patch it up. I really do not want to have to replace my skylight right now.


Sunday afternoon, I received a surprise call from my friend Carol, who has been battling some kind of liver problem (not, thank God, cancer), inviting me to her house for Easter dinner!  She doesn't seem to think there will be a problem, even though she is still pretty weak, and she is asking everyone to bring something, but still!  Of course I will go, and take the rolls she assigned to me. Sometimes I wish I had that much energy!


I keep thinking that it's just over a month until I plan to leave for the north, and I keep thinking that I really do have a lot of things to do to get ready to go...but so far that's as far as I've gotten.  So far this week has been a total loss, and next week is Holy Week, and the week after that I have a bunch of appointments...


I need to get organized, and fast! 31 days...


April 5

I don't have much to report, except that today would have been a better day to be in Copper Harbor than here. The rain did start to freeze after I went to bed last night, and it never thawed. There was a glaze of ice with icicles on the tree branches all day today, and it was a dark and dreary day altogether. Blah. It's supposed to clear up for a while tomorrow morning, then we have a winter storm watch for overnight Sunday and into Monday. Please, enough already. I'm ready for spring.


In Copper Harbor, the morning looked like that, too, but it cleared up sometime after the camera went down (around 12:45). While I was getting it running again (it takes at least 20 minutes, because of the way the software works), I looked at all the other Keweenaw webcams, and they all showed sun. It was a pretty afternoon when I finally got a current picture, although the temperature is in the 20s and going down to single digits tonight. There is some open water in the harbor, but I think that is due to the wind direction and the current through the channel.


Anyway, the reason for this journal is to show you the sunset, and how far north the sun has moved in less than a week. It's out behind Porter Island now, and in another week or so, it will be behind Lighthouse Point, then gone! There is over 13 hours of daylight in Copper Harbor, too. Now that we are going on Daylight Savings Time, I'm afraid there won't be too many more sunsets until after I get there to reset the shutdown time on the camera. Too bad, because from now on, there should be more sunny days...I hope!


Actually, I didn't do nothing today. Debbie is having some outpatient surgery on Wednesday (why does everything have to happen on Wednesdays??), and she decided she would rather I took her to the hospital and she came back here. Since she is the only person I know who is more stubborn than I am, I wasn't about to argue with her. Since I don't know how she'll feel when we get back here, I cleaned off one of the beds in the front room so she will have a place to sleep if she wants to. I picked the bed with less stuff on it, and it wasn't too hard a job.


I also got most of the stuff off the treadmill. There are only a couple more things to move, then I have to find a wall outlet (behind the books) and see if the thing still works, and then I have no excuse whatever not to get on it. There are still five weeks, more or less, before I leave, I hope, and I should be able to get in a little exercise in between getting ready to go and Easter and all. 


Frankly, every time I think about it, I get a little panicky. I have a lot to do before I get out of here. And there's always the possibility that the road might not be open and I couldn't go. I did realize why I want to go on May 9 or so.  There is an eclipse of the moon on May 15, and I'd really like a chance to see it from Copper Harbor. Of course, if it's like the rest of the astronomical sights I've planned to see in the past two years, it will be cloudy and probably rain, but if I'm not there, no doubt the weather will be perfect. Besides, I'm tired of being here.


So that is all the news there is today, and since I have to get up an hour earlier tomorrow, I will toddle off to bed. Between the temperature in the bedroom, the cuddly cats and my new diuretic, I didn't sleep too well last night, and I only hope everything will quiet down tonight. 


Thirty four days...


April 4

Sorry for the long hiatus, but this time it wasn't that nothing was going on, it's that too much was going on. Life seems to go that way - there will be a period when nothing seems to happen, then everything happens all at once. In fact, I've been so busy that I haven't had much time to even observe the weather.


Tuesday, I had to get a blood test to be sure my potassium hadn't gone to zero, and while I was in the area, I stopped for an extremely nice lunch at Lucy's On the Hill. I do like that place, even though their food is sort of made up and it's not cheap. This was tenderloin tips with vegetables (including fresh asparagus - now  I know why there hasn't been any in the markets - the restaurants are getting it all!) and linguine, and it was delicious. After such a big meal in the middle of the afternoon and two (small) glasses of white zin, I was exceptionally sleepy, but I decided that was the day to get cat food, so I did. When I got home, I fiddled around (and actually put the cat food away at once) and ended up eating pea soup at midnight. Oh, well.


I have been working on refinancing my mortgages, and the closing was on Wednesday - at 5:30!  The result was I had just time to scarf down some pea soup and cheese and crackers before I ran off to church and choir practice. 


In the middle of the settlement, Dr. Schade called to say that my blood tests were normal, except for my cholesterol (why am I not surprised?), but I had to report to him that the new med hadn't done much for my feet. He called in a prescription to the drug store, but it was today before I could get it.


I did go to bed relatively early that night, but it didn't help much. It was warm in the bedroom again, and I was thinking about Thursday and Ann Arbor.


Yesterday, we took off for Ann Arbor at about 11:30. That turned out to be the best visit yet. They seem to be getting their act together a bit better than in previous years, and we didn't have to wait very long anyplace. They do seem to be cutting back, like everyone else, and I saw Dr. Voravit himself, which is nice (he is a funny little man), and no snotty physicians' assistants. His main question for me was whether I thought my quality of life was good enough to have made the transplant worth it, and I had to say yes, because very likely I wouldn't be here if I hadn't had it. He did encourage me to get the treadmill going, so I guess I'm duty bound to try to use it between now and May 9.  Tomorrow.


The longest wait I had was for the last of my immunizations, because there was a little confusion about which ones I needed. Today I have a very sore left arm when I try to raise it over my head, because the nurse wanted to avoid my right arm and gave me all four (!) shots in my left arm, and three of them in essentially the same place. That place is pretty sore. But at least I'm all up to date on that part.


We got out so early that we decided to go see if we could find a place to shop. There were some things Debbie wanted to see if she could find, so we headed down Main Street and proceeded to go around in circles around I-94. She found a pair of shoes, and I found she had exactly the opposite problem from mine - she is so little that she has just as much trouble finding what she wants as I do because I'm so big. Extra Smalls and size 5 shoes are just as hard to come by as XXL-Ts and size 11 or 12 wide shoes. I'll stick to my mail order catalogs, thank you.


Anyway, we got so turned around, and there was so much traffic in the center of Ann Arbor that we were a bit late for our reservation at the Gandy Dancer, which was OK because it was early. We had our usual excellent (and wildly expensive) meal. They do fish about as well as anyplace I've been since Joe Muer's closed. They also do really good desserts, so we pigged out. It was great.


Then there was the 55 mile drive back to my house, and I had to take out the trash...and pet a cat. DC was sitting in the slider when I pulled into the garage, looking very sour, and Buster was nearly turning summersaults, he was so happy to see me and get his dinner. Every so often, Buster ends up on the floor when he loses control of his summersaults on the chair. He is a funny little cat.


I found I was really tired by the time we got home, what with all the driving and not enough sleep, and I went to bed as soon as I could get there...and stayed for almost 12 hours. I'm still tired.


Anyway, the rain that was predicted for yesterday didn't happen, except for a couple of drops, and I was grateful. It started overnight, and it rained pretty much all day. At least it wasn't freezing during the day, because I ended up having to go out. My prescription was at the drug store, there was a message from the title company that there had been a page missing in my settlement documents, and would I please sign it, and my special order of cat food had come in (of course it came Wednesday, after I'd been there Tuesday!).


According to the Weather Underground, it is now freezing rain, and I'm glad I'm home. It apparently froze north of me, and there were a couple of nasty accidents on the freeways this morning. Every so often, I have to sit and be thankful that I'm not working anymore and I don't have to drive 30 or more miles when it's like this.  Yuck. I would much rather it was snow.


Oh, yes, and I was sitting at the kitchen table this morning, making telephone calls, when something started to drip right beside me. Apparently the skylight in my kitchen, which must be close to 30 years old now, has sprung a leak again. I was afraid it had, because there is a lot of peeling paint on the ceiling, but this is the first time since I've been home that it has really rained hard enough to drip. Oh, dear. I had hoped nothing would break before I left to go north, but at the same time, I wouldn't want Jackie to have a situation like that. They will be coming Monday to look the situation over.


Oh, yes, and when I logged on to the internet tonight, after a couple of days off, there was a message on the server that refused to download, and it took me quite a while to figure out what message it was and get rid of it. I am getting truly fed up with MSN, and if I can decide how to do it, I am planning to change my external email address over the summer, then cancel my account.  They aren't doing anything for me for my $20 a month, and now that Pastynet is available in this area, I can always have dial backup, which is the only reason I keep the MSN account. Of the 62 messages waiting for me, about 50 were spam, and their solution to the spam problem is no solution at all. I haven't tried to get to my DSL account from Pastynet yet, though, so I will have to try it out. I don't get much spam on the Pastynet account, and I'd like to keep it that way if I can. That account is for people like you who are reading this. We shall see.


So that has been my week, and we are now at 35 days and counting...time I began to do something.


Last  updated 08/04/11 08:45 PM