A View From the Field









May, 2003



May 31

Well, golly, here it is the end of May already! Time goes so fast, and when I'm here I have a hard time even remembering what day of the week it is. So I've been here three weeks. Sure had been nice.


The skies cleared sometime early this morning, but there was not a hint of a northern light, and this morning there was an email canceling the whole thing. So our cloudy skies didn't prevent us from seeing anything. I know it was pristinely dark when I looked outside, and I could see the Big Dipper without my glasses. So all the big fuss was for nothing. Last year, of course, the really spectacular displays occurred without any prior warning. So I will continue to peer outside every time I get up (about four times a night). I'm hoping that the next time there's a good display, it won't be quite so chilly.


The temperatures got down into the 30s overnight, and I could tell, because I have had a window open in the bedroom for a couple of weeks. It was nice to burrow down under my comforter. I usually sleep better when it's cool, and I did.


The morning was really pretty, clear and blue, but the haze we have been experiencing since I've been here clouded the skies again today. It goes away after dark, usually, but it means sunset isn't as pretty as it could be. I hope that as spring turns into early summer, that will stop, and we will have the lovely clear skies and transparent seeing I remember from years past. I am looking at a telescope catalog. 


My activities were on the quiet side today. I put the clean clothes away, plugged in the sewing machine and straightened up that corner of the office. The rest is a pigpen, but tomorrow is another day. Of course, because I didn't go to the post office yesterday, my roses came. They are now in the breezeway, and they are just beautiful bushes. As soon as it warms up a tad, I will move them under the deck to harden off. They come from South Carolina, and I don't think near-freezing temperatures, like we are supposed to get tonight, would do them any good at all. It won't frost here in the harbor, but it will get below 40º. It is cooler in the breezeway, so I will get them used to our local temperatures slowly. Temperatures are supposed to moderate into the 40s over the next few days, so then I can move them outdoors.


Tonight I had a good dinner at Mariner, with Shirley, who is just fine, after giving us all a scare and spending a night in the hospital last week. Fortunately, she just has some intestinal virus, but it sounded bad there for a while. She's "mom" to a lot of us, and we were all worried.


When I left for dinner, Buster was curled up in the basket in the great room, and when I came back, DC ran out the back door into the breezeway, and I had to haul him in bodily, which he absolutely hates. He wanted to investigate what is out there, which is, besides the roses, a lot of the stuff I bought in town last week that I haven't brought in to put away. I really don't mind them going out there, if the door to the garage is closed, except that the steps are open, and they could get under them and I'd have to leave the door to the house open. The breezeway isn't heated, so I would be wasting energy from the house trying to warm it up. Later, when it's warmer and the screen is on the door to the outside, I will probably let them go out there to their heart's content.


I don't know if DC is sick or not, but overall, he doesn't act like it. Not that means a lot with a cat, of course. They don't malinger. Now I am wondering if the blood sample they got from him was so small that everything was out of whack. When I saw him scoot out the door, I just can't believe he's not just fine. He is keeping himself pretty clean, a hard job in a house ass filthy as this one is, and his eyes look bright. So I guess I'll just assume he's OK.


 So that is the news from the field for the end of May.


May 30

Today was another day to hunker down and hibernate, so I did. It was almost a carbon copy of Wednesday, with a little less rain (but not much), a north wind, and falling temperatures. Yuck. I didn't even go to the post office.


I had thought about going out to eat, but Debbie called and we talked forever, but that's fine with me. So I heated up the last portion of the pork chops with Spanish rice and had a large JD. I'm sorry if anybody was looking at the camera after 9:30, because the lights were on, but I got tired of bumbling around in the dark and I wanted to see my food. There isn't anything going on outside anyway.


However, it was not a wasted day. Far from it. I had attempted to start washing yesterday, because the bags in the laundry station were overflowing, and I only got one load done, so today I started washing before breakfast. That's not quite so awful as it sounds, because I have developed the habit of having a special breakfast on Fridays - French toast my way and Volwerth's pork sausage - and it takes some time for the bread to soak and the sausages to defrost. So I washed.  All day long. Besides clothes, there were towels and a couple of really grungy throw rugs, and I ended up having to wash five tops twice because I have been slobbering down my front again and the spots didn't come out the first time. The underwear is put away, but the rest of the stuff isn't. That's for tomorrow.


In the meantime, I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher and added some more to the orange bags for the trash compactor. No way was I going to hassle trash bags into that compactor in the rain. The opening is about level with my nose, so I have to hoist the bags up to shoulder height and then somehow get them inside. I don't think that thing was meant to be a consumer-operated device, and at any rate its design is terrible for attempting to load it. There is a guy (a full-time local resident whose name I don't know) who watches in the summer to make sure that only orange bags go in (we have to buy our bags, and that pays for the service), and more than once he has helped me hoist things into the opening. One of the joys of living at the end of the world.


So it was a pretty active day, for me. I didn't spend much time looking outside because it was so foggy and rainy there wasn't much to see. I think it is clearing up some, because just before I turned on the lights, I could see cars coming down the mountain.


I can only hope it clears up overnight in time to see the northern lights. However, evidently we will have another chance tomorrow night, too, and according to the forecasts, the weather will be clearing. I hope so. They are so neat. Evidently there is something up there which has been seen in Europe. It would be nice if we could see it, too.


I think I am sufficiently digested from my late dinner, and the JD is almost all gone, so I will toddle off to bed feeling like I accomplished something.


May 29

So most of today was beautiful again. If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes...or go to sleep. When you wake up, it's likely to be totally different. It certainly was this morning.


The sky was blue, the water was blue, the hills are green, and there was a stiff wind blowing out of the north-northwest, enough to raise a whitecap or two before it settled down. By mid-afternoon there were some high, wispy clouds, and between 5:30 and 6:00 the clouds rolled in, and it now looks as dreary as it was yesterday, except it's about 10º warmer and there is no rain - yet.


In the meantime, the sun has continued belching forth mass ejections and the watch for northern lights has turned to a warning...so of course it clouded up! What else? There was a fantastic movie on the Solar Terrestrial Dispatch website this morning of the sun in xrays, showing the explosion that resulted in one of the coronal mass ejections. If you go to that site, be aware that there's lots of data on the page and it takes a while to load (especially if you're running a slow connection like I do), but it's worth it. Apparently there have been at least four CMEs from that sunspot area - one big burp after another - and they're all headed straight toward us.


Our only hope here is that the front will clear out of here early tomorrow, since it's coming in from the north and skies will clear some tomorrow night. A new site I've found, based upon Environment Canada data, seems to indicate that may in fact be the case. All I can do is hope. And of course, I do remember one night last summer when it was cloudy, but I could clearly see the backlighting from the northern lights above the clouds. The clouds we have presently look like they may be too thick for that, but believe me, I'll be peering out the window any time I wake up during the night. Sorry to say, I haven't figured out the time exposure thing on the camera yet, so any reports from this observing station will have to be verbal.


I began collecting trash in anticipation of a trip to the compactor tomorrow, and otherwise enjoyed the day. I did take the camera when I went to the post office this afternoon, because the juneberry tree that grows beside the entrance to Lighthouse Road is in full bloom, and it made a nice frame for the road, which is really a pretty place to drive or walk. Just remember it's a private road...and right now, it will shake the bolts out of your suspension if you aren't careful. There is a 15mph speed limit posted that nobody obeys except at this time of year. Looking at that picture, I realized that it may be slightly on a slant, but it's hard to tell. The road looks slightly tilted, but the tree with the sign on it is straight. I'm not sure which way is right. Some of the trees do slant, and sometimes the road does, too. Probably the road should be flat, and I just had a slant on, as usual. I actually took three pictures, and they all turned out pretty good, but I didn't want to bore you.


I refilled the bird feeders and moved the metal thistle feeder into the picture. We'll see if my critter appears tonight. I do want to get one hummingbird feeder out, but that's for another day.


Tonight I must get to bed earlier, and hope to see fireworks in the sky...


May 28

When the weather goes to pot around here, it really goes. It wasn't raining when I got up this morning, but it started soon enough with a little dribble, and it has been raining and breezy and cold all day. The temperature never got out of the mid 40s. I've had the east window in the office open for some time because it gets so warm in here, between the computer and the boiler room downstairs, but I had to close it a while ago.


Of course, all this cloudiness was accompanied by the first AstroAlert of the season for northern lights for the next three nights...and the weather forecast is for clouds and rain for the next three nights. Naturally. However, I never give up, because you just never know when the weathermen will be wrong about the timing of a front. I hope they are. I do enjoy the northern lights.


As a result of the weather I didn't do much today. I paid some bills, spent a long time on the telephone trying to find out why my attempt to pay my Mastercard online wasn't working, and fooled around with the computer. That's about all the day was good for.


I had intended to do some wash and gather the trash, but that never happened. The wash isn't going away, and it was too nasty to be heaving bags into the trash compactor anyway.


So it will be a good night to sleep, and all my chores will still be here tomorrow.


May 27

It looks like our run of exceptional weather may finally come to an end in the next day or so, but today was, if anything, more beautiful than ever. There was almost no haze all day long, a light wind from the northwest, and the temperatures were in the middle 50s, although it's warmed up a bit as the wind shifted to the southwest. There is a small front moving in which may bring some rain tomorrow, but that's something we need. It's getting a bit dry again. I can tell when it does, because the tiny sprigs of juneberry that are trying to grow at various spots around my yard start to look a bit wilty. After all, into each life some rain must fall, and better it be mid-week than on the weekend.


It seems I was wrong about my critter (again), and last night he chewed holes in the bottoms of both thistle socks. He may have gotten some of the seed, but I suspect most of it fell on the ground under the tree. However, he also knocked down one of the s-hooks, and it has disappeared. It may turn up, but right now it's gone missing. I can sew up the bottoms of the socks (and I have some more), but it looks like if I want to feed the birds, I'm going to have to take most of the feeders in at night and put them out in the morning. I didn't really want to get into that, but I do enjoy the birds. And there's always the live trap.


So other than that, I have no news to report, and I just enjoyed the weather all day long. It was pretty buggy outside, so I didn't go far. I think I may have gotten a black fly bite on my left ear yesterday. I can't feel any lumps, but it has been awfully itchy. They go for places like ears and hairlines and ankles where they can bite you and eat undisturbed.


So we will have our rain, then it will clear up again, and we can enjoy another beautiful spell. I could use a summer of this!


May 26

Well, it's just one gorgeous day after another! I don't remember such a lovely stretch of weather over the past three years.


Today is Memorial Day, which reminded me of a couple of dates that just passed that I neglected to commemorate. 


Two years ago on May 23, I moved in to Rainbow's End. How time files when you're in a place you love.


Also, ten years ago on May 24, my mother died. Most of the acute pain is gone now, but I still miss her terribly, and almost daily I wish that she were here to share this place with me.  On the one hand, that day seems a long time ago, and at the same time it hardly seems possible that she has been gone so long. Shortly before Easter, I had an exceptionally vivid dream that I drove up to the house, and both my mother and father were here waiting for me. I don't know what heaven will be like, but I'd take this place for starters.


I think I remarked before I left Champine that this time of year I have a hard time sleeping because I have a hard time getting my temperature right. It was cold enough when I got here that I was fine, but these days, with all the solar heating of the house, I'm having a problem here, too. I finally opened one of the side windows in the window seat last night, and that helped somewhat, but I was still warm and restless. Not that I'm complaining about the free heat, understand, it's just that it needs to be cooler in my bedroom.


After I wrote last night's entry, I noticed that the sun was setting over lighthouse point, and it actually looked like it should have been 100º ratiher than 50º, so I went down through the garden and took this picture. It actually turned out to be a rather cool shot, I thought.


The haze went away for a while after dark, and I could see Regulus setting and the Big Dipper without my glasses again, but sometime after midnight it got hazy again, and it was that way all day. There wasn't enough cloud cover to turn the lake gray, but I like to see the clear, pure blue the sky only gets here. Picky, picky. I'm never satisfied.


The temperature seems stuck in the low 50s, and the wind has been light and variable, which means a medium bug problem. I promised myself I would take a little walk, so around 4pm I got my hat and my staff (a driftwood pole with hockey tape wrapped around the grip) and my camera and toddled off. The only thing I forgot was a kleenex, but I didn't stay out long enough to start to drip. It was buggy along the road, which it usually is, because the trees screen it from the wind, but I had put on some bug spray when I got dressed...sort of like I used to wear cologne. They buzzed around, but I don't believe I got a bite.


We are sort of between on the flowers right now. Only the juneberries right along the ground are out, and the only little flowers are violets and strawberries, barren and bearing. I did manage to get one good shot of a violet. I love to take close-ups of the flowers, because even the most common flower can have an intricate and beautiful shape. Since I can't kneel or squat, I'd have to pick the flower or dig it up and use a magnifying glass to see what the camera shows clearly.


The oaks are finally beginning to show bits of leaves, and everything seems to be either green or bronzy right now. Shortly, the juneberries will burst forth, and there is one large bush and a small tree I will try to get pictures of. Oh, yes, and the winter cress is starting to bloom. I do wish there was some way to zap that stuff, other than digging up each plant, and still leave the rest of the wildflowers. There actually is less of  it this year, but there's still a lot. I will try to get a picture, just to document it.


I came back through the back yard. There is a place right beside the utility pole where there aren't any bushes, so that the gas man can fill the propane tanks, and it makes a convenient shortcut back into my yard when I'm walking in that direction. The lilacs are beginning to green up but the flower heads aren't showing yet. It is altogether a beautiful time of year.


Evidently my critter was back last night and ate some of the regular bird seed out of the feeder, although he may just have flung it around looking for sunflowers. I keep hoping that when the berries start to ripen he will go away, but one of my correspondents suggested I might have to live trap him, and it could come to that. At least then I'd see for sure what it is. I'm certainly glad he doesn't seem to like thistle seed.


However, I discovered that the white-crowned sparrow does like thistle, or at least one of them will eat it in a pinch. It was clinging to a stocking pecking away this afternoon.


While the weather said the wind was calm at 8:51 (and it pretty much was), there is now a little breeze blowing out of the northwest, and it is telling me there are a lot of people camping at the fort and making campfires. Polluting our pristine air!


Anyway, the sun is about where it was last night, and that is the end of  another quiet day in the field.


May 25

Another quiet day in the field. Another beautiful, sunny day, with temperatures low enough and enough wind that it wasn't particularly buggy. It has gotten hazy as the day progressed, but it is supposed to be clear tonight. What gorgeous weather! So far as I'm concerned, it could stay like this all summer!


Oh, yes, and Harbor Haus is open. I am full of delicious fish, and I topped it off with the last two pieces of the Godiva chocolate. I thought it was fitting.


There are people in town, but it's not overflowing like it will be later in the season, and it's kind of nice. There were a bunch of either ATVs or dirt bikes making an awful noise about the time I went to bed last night, and I just heard a few more, because the back window is open, but it has been a quiet opening of the season, which is fine with me.


I decided to leave the hummingbird feeders out last night, and that was a mistake, because my critter was here again, and besides getting nectar all over himself, he chewed on almost all the bee guards (the little yellow things), so now I only have enough for one feeder. Well, it was my own fault. I should have brought them in. I didn't put any seed on the deck today, but the flock of blue jays was here anyway, and they are getting horny. There are a couple of peculiar calls they use only when they are mating, one by the female and one by the male, and I heard that all morning long. I did refill all the thistle feeders, and tomorrow I will put out the one hummingbird feeder again (and take it in at night). 


I inspected the garden and it appears that there are only three poppies, but at least one of the roses I thought might be dead has shoots. So that is encouraging. I only wish I knew which ones died. This year, I will try to see that all the new ones are marked, but this year I hope to do the planting myself.


Other than that, I didn't do much except enjoy the scenery, but it was the kind of quiet day I enjoy. Tomorrow, I may try to take a little walk, because the juneberries are coming into full flower, and they are so pretty I want to look at them. 


For now, too much food and too much JD has made me sleepy, so I will toddle up to the north end again. What a lovely day in the field!


May 24

Sorry, no new pictures today. In fact, the day was rather truncated, since I didn't get up until 10am. While I enjoyed my dinner last night, one of the items on the fish buffet was a mixture of various vegetables deep-fried. I love those things, but I haven't been able to eat them in 30 years, and I know that, but I did anyway. So I was up for quite a while during the night with ferocious indigestion, and I made up for it in the morning. Too bad, too, because it was another lovely clear day. It was a little cooler today than yesterday, but not at all windy, and very nice. Actually, at this time of year, cooler is better, because the cooler it is, the fewer bugs there are.


When I was up in the night, it looked like there were some northern lights, but they weren't very bright and they were very low in the sky. I know when I used to hang out at King Copper, almost every clear night there was at least a glow on the horizon, so I wasn't too surprised. There hasn't been an Astroalert for months, but that doesn't mean there aren't particles coming from the sun anyway, it just means there aren't any of those fantastic all-sky displays like we saw last summer. The sun is past its sunspot maximum, which means there are fewer eruptions. I'm glad I got to see what I did last summer, because from now on the displays won't be so spectacular or so frequent. Darn. However, if that telescope comes to pass, it will be good, since it's hard to see much, especially deep-sky objects, when the northern lights are bright.


I put the hummingbird feeders out this morning, but it looked to me like my critter didn't stop by last night. There was still sunflower seed on the deck, which the blue jays took care of in a hurry, and there was still some seed left in the tube of sunflower seeds. So if I leave all the feeders out tonight, he will come again.


I am having a great debate with myself about spreading the seed on the deck. I have a real flock of blue jays, and they are huge birds and sort of bullies, and I don't think the hummingbirds came all day long. All the mothy seed is gone now, and I don't know if I will put any more out for them. They can sort of get into the tube feeder, but it's hard and they don't get much. I guess I'd rather see the little birds, but after all, the evening grosbeaks would probably not have come without the seed on the deck, and I enjoyed them.


I must add that I went out in my nightie with a fleece jacket over it to hang out the hummingbird feeders. It was after 10am, however, and I'm afraid the birds had decided they wouldn't be there so they didn't come back.


Otherwise, I enjoyed the birds and knitted, and got the sweater to about where it was when I discovered the errors in it the last time. I also spent the entire afternoon trying to put together an online order at a company I do mail order with, and I finally gave it up. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I've been having a terrible time with some websites since I got here, problems I didn't have last fall. Whether it is that pastynet is busier or the telephone lines are going down the tubes again, or something else, I don't know, but some pages will only load if I kick the line by reading email or accessing another site in another window, and some won't load at all.


I've forgotten to mention that I discovered one reason why the line kept hanging up over the winter. I thought I had set the timer so that it would power fail the computer every night, but since I misplaced the directions, it turns out I left it on all the time. I don't know how that happened; I know before I left, there were several times when it shut down on me while I was online, and I don't remember touching the timer, but when I dug out the directions and looked at it, it was very definitely set "on" instead of "auto". Also, shortly after I got here (that rainy weekend when the phone lines were screwed up), the pastynet line got set to "never dial a connection". It used to do that a lot, and I think it has something to do with having too many errors on the line, since it had stopped happening once SBC cleaned up my lines last year. That couldn't have happened over the winter, or the camera would never have updated, and the only problem I had with it was that every few days I had to power fail it manually. Sometimes these things drive me nuts, but then I remember that without them, I wouldn't be able to see the view when I'm not here.


The sun has set, and it looks to be another clear night, and I think I will go and try to catch up a bit on my sleep.


May 23

I slept until after 9am this morning, and if I hadn't had to go to the bathroom, I probably would have slept longer. However, it was such a beautiful morning, I wanted to get up and see it. The temperature was around 50º, but the sky was beautifully blue, the sun was shining brightly, and there was no wind at all...almost like it is right now, except that it's a tad warmer and there is a haze in the sky that will probably go away as the sun sets. Besides, it was cool enough today that the bugs weren't quite such a problem, although they are definitely there.


Much to my embarrassment, I got a call from the company that is supposed to ship my roses, asking if I still want them, because I hadn't paid for them. Huh? I remembered distinctly finding the invoice sometime in April and calling them to see if they were still holding the shipment, and I thought I wrote a check that day. However, it certainly isn't in my checkbook. So after I got dressed, I dug into the box of stuff to be filed and sorted it out and threw away a lot of junk. Of course, I found the invoice, and it was clear to me then what had probably happened: I had a bunch of paper, and I was writing checks, and at some point decided to mail what I had done. The invoice for the roses was no doubt buried by that time, and when I got back, I just gathered up all the papers on the bed (since I don't have an office on Champine, I end up sorting papers and writing checks on my bed) and stuck them in the "to be filed" box, thinking all the time that I had written the check for the roses.


The only thing good about it is that one of the roses died in the meantime, so I only had to pay for 11, and it turned out that they were not scheduled to ship until Tuesday. I don't suppose they will send them until they have my check in hand, which means it will be a while, with the holiday and all, but they will come. That's all right: with the bugs coming, I'd just as soon wait a while to plant anyway.


So that accounted for most of the middle of my day. When i went to the post office, I took the camera with me, since I had noticed some interesting things yesterday. I am gratified that the results were pretty good, I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to identify the "mystery bush" to no avail. There is a girl in town who is waiting tables at Mariner to make ends meet who has a degree in horticulture from MSU, and she offered to see if she can identify it, so tomorrow when I go to dinner, I will have to take the clippers and cut a branch for her to see. Whatever it is, it's a pretty thing.


I was delighted that all the pictures came out pretty well in focus, since that has been my biggest trouble with the close-ups. Some of them were underexposed, and not all of them were centered very well, but those are things that PhotoShop can handle. I haven't yet been able to make it sharpen up the fuzzies.


The critter was back last night, but all he ate was the seed on the deck. However, I guess he was put out that there was no hummingbird nectar, because he pushed both hangers off the railing onto the ground. Such gall! I put the hummingbird feeders out today, because I like to watch them, but I will take them in tonight after sunset, and toddle out in my nightie tomorrow morning to set them out again. It's a pain, but I really didn't want to feed that critter.


I would stop putting the seed on the deck, which would foil him completely, except that yesterday afternoon, there was a pair of evening grosbeaks, and I know they would never use the feeder. So if I'm going to see some of the more interesting birds, I will have to put up with the raccoon eating whatever sunflower seed is left at night. 


On another topic, they're here! The tourists are pouring into Copper Harbor for the holiday weekend, and I am glad to be able to withdraw to my quiet spot. It actually isn't bad, and they weren't all that raucous, but I'm used to real quiet. So I guess I will have to go out to eat and mosey around town to get used to the whole thing before July comes...if I ever do. At least my neighbors, who are also here, are mostly very quiet.


So that is another lovely day in the field. All this beautiful weather is spoiling me, but I can at least hope we will have a cool, clear summer for a change.


May 22

Today was a better day, I must say. I slept fairly late, and although I woke up with a little sinus headache, after I dripped for a while, it went away. I got the sweater all ripped out and started knitting it up again...after finding that the problem was that I had knit two stitches together in two places. Actually, I probably was purling when I did it, but the only way it could have happened was if I was knitting in the dark. I'll have to remember not to do that again, at least with this yarn.


I was sitting around playing with the sweater when Tom called to say he planned to come out and do the rest of the spring work, so I had to hurry up and get dressed.


It was a sort of unprepossessing day, partly cloudy, with not much breeze and temperatures around 60º, which meant it was pretty warm and very buggy. Before I gave up and got my bug shirt, I got my first black fly bite, on my neck. Tonight after I take my bath, I will dope it with Adolf's meat tenderizer and that will take the itch out of it and bring down the swelling.

The only trouble with Adolf's is that there is a lot of salt in it, so I end up with a bed that feels sort of sandy, but I don't think it's possible to buy the active ingredient (papain? papayin? something like that) in its pure form any more. It really does work, though, and I am the living proof.


Anyway, there was some frustration with Tom's chores. I will have to use my little electrical pump to get all the water out of the pond (it was full), and there is a lot of glop, leaves and twigs and sand, that I will have to try to get out, too. And the pump into the lake wouldn't work at all. Last year it didn't work right when he started it up, but when we tried it later, it was fine...then of course I didn't use it. This year, he couldn't get any water out of it at all, so I ended up having to call the plumber, who was not too pleased to have to come all this way just to look at the pump. I think he probably will come, though, sometime next week. We'll see. Tom also told me that he had tried the generator several times, and it doesn't work at all again, so I will have to hassle that some more.


Anyway, the screens are on all the outside doors, so I can have air and no bugs if I want it or need it.


Tom did say he thought he could probably take out the red pine, which is good. The main trunks of the big birch in that clump have also died out...that is the tree we used to sit under when we needed some shelter from the wind but it was too buggy in the other spot, and I am sorry to see it go, but birches only last so long. The good thing is that there were a lot of side shoots, so eventually I will have another birch. The one that hangs over the pond, that you can see part of in the camera, doesn't look very good, but it is putting out catkins, so hopefully it will leaf out eventually. I would really hate to lose that tree, because it doesn't have any side shoots. When I think how hard I worked to avoid that clump of trees when I sited the house, and now they are all dying off! Grr. I wanted the shade, too.


I don't think we will cut down the dead birch. They rot away pretty fast, and the little birds like to scavenge under the bark for bugs. I don't think it is big enough and close enough to the house to do any damage if it comes down anyway.


On the good side, the view should be better from upstairs (where I never go).


I spent the rest of the afternoon working on the sweater and relaxing. The breeze sprang up and the temperature started going down a bit later, but it was still cloudy at sunset, so probably there won't be any stars tonight.


Oh, and that reminds me!! When I got up at 3am, I looked out the bathroom window, and there was a glow in the north, behind the trees, that extended 30º or so up into the sky - my first northern lights of the year! They were pretty bright, but mostly they were low in the north, and I think they lasted until dawn. There is a glass block window in my shower, and when I can see something light through it, the light is pretty bright.


Even with the bugs, it was so wonderful to be out on the deck and hear absolutely no sound at all...the harbor was so calm I saw the rings made by fish coming up for bugs, and the water wasn't even lapping at the beach. Now that is one of the best things about this place.


So it's off to the north end and another good night's sleep.


May 21

This was a day when it might have been better to stay in bed, all things considered. I was very late getting to bed last night, first because I forgot to do the journal, then because I almost forgot the pictures. I woke up shortly after 8am and decided to get up rather than just take a trip to the bathroom. That was probably a mistake. I felt headachy and a little shaky all day.


However...before it was time to go to meet the ladies, I took a short walk outside (and nearly lost my balance two or three times - I mean I was really shaky) to try to take some pictures of what flowers there are before they go away. I was partially successful, although I'm not terribly pleased with the quality of the pictures. As usual, I need a little more practice with the camera to get the close-ups right. It happens every year. Anyway, I did get a couple. One is the flower of the willow shrub which looks sort of like a pussy willow at a distance, but obviously doesn't close up, and the other is of the red flowers of the maple that I have been talking about since the one in the front yard on Champine came out a couple of months ago. I'm not putting in any bigger enlargements because neither picture is focused very well. And the other things I tried to take were total washouts. Well, practice makes perfect. If I feel a little stronger tomorrow, I will try it again (sky conditions willing).


However, it was clear in the short time I was outside that the bug season is upon us. I don't think I actually got bit (I sometimes have a delayed reaction), but there were little black things flying around me. So from now on, it's hats, high collars and lots of Deep Woods Off! Fortunately it's cool. I've wandered around like that when it was hot, and the tourists look at me like I'm off my rocker. Frankly, I'd rather not be bitten.


The ladies meeting was very nice, as always, but a different crew than last year. I guess anyone who can comes and it depends on who's doing what. But they are all nice people and fun to see. I took the current sweater to knit on...more about that later.


On the home front, the news of the day is that there was a critter on the deck last night. He ate all the sunflower seeds on the deck, most of the sunflower seeds in one tube of the big feeder, emptied one hummingbird feeder and pulled the other apart so that the nectar probably ran all over him, and took a look at one thistle feeder. I'm guessing it was a raccoon, because it was too small and weak to be a bear, and it clearly picked the sunflowers out of the feeder without harming it. That is the reason the hummingbird feeders disappeared today. I brought them in and just decided to wait until tomorrow to put them back out. 


When I wish Buster and DC could talk, so they could tell me what happened. I know DC spent a good portion of the early morning (like after about 3am) someplace other than in bed, and he was bright-eyed and almost frisky this morning. Sometimes I think most of his problem is pure boredom.


However, if whatever it was continues to come back, I may have to stop trying to feed the birds, which would be a great disappointment to me. I didn't intend to feed things I can't see, especially piggy ones like that.


At the ladies' gathering, I knitted most of the front yoke of my sweater (it is a cap-sleeved shell, in very pretty colors. Pictures whenever I finish it - if I do), and when I got home, I made the mistake of joining the front and back without counting stitches. I wanted to put the sleeve ribbing on, so that once I get into the body, I can just knit until I run out of yarn, and I had started that when I suddenly realized that I had dropped a stitch. That prompted me to count stitches in the front, and...I was three short. So I started ripping. When I had the back and front separated, I put the back back on its holder needle, and in so doing, I counted stitches there and found I was one short. For three stitches on the front, I would rip, but for one stitch on the back, I decided not to, but I had to find the stitch I had dropped so I could crochet it into place, which took about two hours of following stitches from the top and counting. Arrggh! The back is now right, and the yarn is so slubby that it doesn't knit up evenly and the stitch I put back will never be noticed. When I started looking at the front, I discovered that one stitch I had dropped was right in the center front, about four rows below the neck ribbing, but by that time it was getting dark and I wanted to try to get this written and go to bed. Tomorrow I will continue. I don't usually drop stitches, but this yarn is so full of huge slubs that it is evidently very easy to miss a stitch here and there. I will have to count frequently, and probably I will have to put lots of markers to make the counting (and recovery) easier.


What annoys me is that there is a very good chance I'll never wear the thing. It is quite a dressy piece, and I just don't dress like that around here. But the yarn was expensive, and it's pretty - the colors are like a Monet painting - and I didn't want to just let it sit. Besides, I want to get t done so I can start working on my raglan sleeve pattern. I should remember that haste makes mistakes.


It was actually a very nice day. The temperature never got anywhere near as low as they were forecasting last night (it got down to 41º at the NWS station here), and it was a beautifully clear night and a bright and sunny morning, so it warmed up quickly. By the time I went out, it was over 60º, with a brisk southwest wind. Just my kind of weather. It clouded up late in the afternoon,  but as the sun set it got almost entirely clear, so it looks to be another pretty night. When I got up around 3am, I could see the big dipper through the bathroom window without my glasses on, which means it was really clear.


The thing about the bugs is that they hang around the lee of buildings and trees, so that there were no bugs on the deck, but back  behind the house, they were beginning to swarm. Well, it's nothing we all weren't expecting. We just cope, and those of us who react badly cover up and use lots of bug spray.


My plan is to go to bed shortly (it's not early any more, but, oh well) and sleep late - so what do you bet I get a phone call about 9:30 tomorrow morning. I do want to get the screen doors on, and it's time to get the pump from the lake set up, but I would rather sleep. 


Probably I overdid a bit yesterday, and I know I didn't get enough sleep last night, so I'll just have to make up for it tonight.


May 20

I almost forgot to do this tonight, and that would never do.


Last night was a wild and wooly one to be sure. It rained and it blew and the lake was speaking loudly. When I got up this morning, however, I saw blue sky and blue water - with whitecaps - out my bedroom windows, so the storm was moving out. As a matter of fact, half of the harbor was in the clear sky and half was covered with clouds, which was weird. There were nice whitecaps on it, too.


It was still blowing hard when I left for town, and it had turned mostly cloudy again, but it wasn't particularly dark. The trees are turning pale green and there are a lot of dandelions growing, and where it's wet, marsh marigolds. I did stop at the Gratiot River, which looked entirely different from last spring. I think that big tree trunk that is down on the west side must have happened over the winter, and it has backed up the river enough that the little islets that had flowers on them last spring have been drowned.


In the course of trying to take a fifth picture, the camera batteries died, and the other set wasn't much better. That is the one thing I have noticed about the rechargeable batteries: they lose their charge when they are just sitting around. Since I tend to charge both sets at the same time, both sets are usually dead at the same time. I guess I will have to start carrying at least one set of regular batteries around with me just for such emergencies. It didn't help that I checked the camera the other day and the batteries seemed to be all right. Very strange indeed. Anyway, those two pictures were all I got.


The wind wasn't a factor except on the couple of places on US-41 between Calumet and Hancock where there is no wind break, when it was blowing across the highway.


I may sometime figure out where Erickson Seed is, but I haven't yet, and I ended up going around in circles until I realized I had passed it the first time, and if I get to the Hurontown Fire Hall, I've gone by it. I acquired a metal bird feeder, but I haven't put it out yet. It isn't very big, and I'm not sure how well it would survive a bear, but it's worth a try. They also had a supply of the little yellow screens for the hummingbird feeders, which I keep losing. So now I have enough to set up a third feeder if I want. 


I know the hummers are here, but it was too windy on the deck for them today. In fact, the goldfinches were eating on the deck when I left, and they were clinging for dear life to the thistle socks when I got back. There must have been six pairs, and they are so colorful!


After a good lunch at Ming Gardens, I attacked Econo Foods and nearly bought out the place. However, since I've been eating out of the freezer since I got here, I needed to replenish the larder. After not being supposed to eat greens last fall, I felt very wicked indeed when I got broccoli, asparagus, and two kinds of salad greens. So I will be able to eat well at home, and I think I am going to try to eat in more often this year.  Good as our restaurants are, I think probably part of the problem with my swelled up feet is the amount of salt in restaurant food. Part is also not getting enough exercise. So I will have to experiment.


It wasn't very late when I started back, and the clouds were beginning to break up. North of Calumet it was nearly clear, and I toyed with the notion of driving up the coast, but I decided I had had enough for the day, and besides, I had forgotten to buy batteries. The drive north was as good as the drive south had been: there isn't very much traffic on the road at this time of year, which makes it fun.


It is amazing what 10 days of sunshine (mostly) will do. When we came up, while the grass was greening up, the trees were totally bare, and now there is a greenish haze around all of them except for the maples which have their red flowers. I am charging a set of batteries (in fact, I popped them in the charger the minute I got home, then nearly forgot there were pictures in the camera!), so if it is as nice tomorrow as John is predicting, I will take a short walk out onto the road and try to get a picture or two of just what a maple flower looks like, for my own edification as well as yours. Only the oaks so far have no sign of leaves, but that's normal.


The evening was gorgeous and clear, and the wind is finally dying down, so now that I have remembered to write this, I will get it uploaded then toddle on up to the north end. I have been feeling a little stronger lately, and I think I am, but the tour around Econo Foods (where I had to visit just about every aisle) just about did me in. So I will try to get some more walking in, and hope that eventually I get my legs back.


May 19

So I got up early (for me) and didn't dawdle over breakfast, and nobody called and nobody came. Poo. It is supposed to be much cooler and windy tomorrow, although they've changed their mind about the rain. And I absolutely must go to town tomorrow - I'm running out of breakfast food.


It was another quiet day. It was hazy and sort of a mix of sunshine and clouds all day, but it got fairly warm - mid 60s. When the wind is from the south or southwest as it was today, it passes over enough land that we don't get any benefit from the lake. It was also very humid, and I was glad it wasn't warmer.


The excitement of the day was a new bird for my life list: a chestnut-sided warbler. I do believe he is on one of the bellpulls, but I had never seen one until I just happened to turn around, and there he was (it was definitely a "he" in his breeding plumage) sitting on the deck railing. The bird books do say they will come to feeders, and I guess he was checking out whether there was anything worth his time. He is a very pretty little bird, somewhat larger than some warblers, with a black back, a very white underside, a lovely chestnut brown streak on his side and a bright yellow patch like a halo on top of this head. He only sat there for a few moments, but it was long enough for me to get a good look, and I knew I'd seen pictures of him before. I did - I worked on one for three or four weeks a couple of years ago! He is much prettier in the flesh.


Late in the afternoon, I threw another scoop of sunflower seed on the deck and filled the thistle socks, more for tomorrow than tonight, because the goldfinches retire early. Not long before I went out, there had been almost a dozen finches at the thistle feeders. The males particularly are so bright and cheerful at this time of year.


After I did the feeders, I took a walk into the garden, the first time I've been down there this year. I was almost afraid to go to see what had happened to my roses.  All but four of them are beginning to grow, and some of them look quite healthy. I won't give up on the four yet, because they are all own-root roses, and some varieties are very slow to bread dormancy. I also wanted to see if I had room for the dozen or so that are supposed to be coming. I guess I do.


The other bed, toward the lake from the pond, doesn't have much in it, but there are three peonies, three iris, and four poppies. There is something coming up sort of in the middle of the bed that doesn't look like a weed, so I will have to wait and see what becomes of it. There are some very healthy looking winter cress and hound's tongue plants coming up in various places that I will have to try to dig out. Neither is my idea of a garden plant.


I spent most of the afternoon putting together an order of perennial plants. Some of them I tried to plant in the fall of 2001, but I think they will probably do better if planted in the spring. We shall see.


I continued down the deck to look at the area between the house and the lilac bushes. There is a lot of bare ground there, and I will have to get together my wildflower order. There is one nice lupine coming up right by the steps, and there seem to be a lot of daisies...probably a lot more daisies than winter cress, at least right there, which is good. There were some yellow things blooming, most of which were dandelions, of course, but off under a tree where the ground hadn't been disturbed very much, there were some barren strawberries and the littlest purple violets I have ever seen. The next sunny day that I'm home, I'll have to take pictures.


The birch leaves are bursting out at a great rate, and the lilacs are starting to show some green, so spring is coming swiftly. I saw a couple of juneberry flowers, but most of them won't be out for several days. I will take the camera when I go to town tomorrow, in case I see anything of interest. I want to particularly look at the place where the Gratiot River crosses under Cliff Drive. I think it was last year, there were a lot of marsh marigolds growing on little stones in the river. It's a pretty spot anyway, and I've kept forgetting that I want to stop and take pictures when the sun isn't in my face. However, when it's cloudy, it's dark down in there and it would be hard to see anything.


So tonight we are supposed to have rain and possibly thunderstorms, and it looks threatening right now. It was nice to get to bed at a reasonable hour last night, and I think I'll try it again.


Peace in the field.


May 18

Today's excitement was all about very big birds and very little birds.


When I got up this morning, it was sort of cloudy and hazy, but the sun came out for most of the day, at least until 7pm or so. Despite what the weather forecasts kept saying (east winds) the wind was from the south-southeast all day and a little stronger than it has been all week. The temperature got into the low 60s and it was nice out, but I stayed in anyway.


i was sitting at the desk wondering where the eagles and the hummingbirds were when I glanced out the south windows and there was the eagle sailing in toward Lake Lilly, where, according to Jim Rooks, one pair nests. That is one beautiful bird, and there is no way you could mistake it for anything else, with its white head and white tail. So the eagles are there, they just aren't out in the middle of the harbor doing acrobatics for the camera.


I still wondered about the hummingbirds, so much so that I checked back to last year to find out when I put out the feeders. It turned out it was a couple of weeks later, which no doubt is the reason everything has been a little skittish so far. Around 6pm I put my sunglasses on and sat down in the ugly chair to read and knit and enjoy the birds, and pretty soon the hummers started showing up. I don't know how many there are, but there is at least one male and one female. They were extremely suspicious, and for a while they just sat in the tree and took fast swings past the feeder, but there isn't much blooming for a poor little bird to eat, so hunger finally overcame their suspicions. Mostly the male (or males?) has been around. He would sip the nectar for a while then take off and perch on a tiny branch of the birch tree. He is so teensy that he doesn't even move the little twig when he lights on it. 


I do like hummingbirds. When they hover over the deck to case the joint, they are stationary, but their tails are moving around all the time, and they look like a ballet dancer doing steps in place. I didn't get a good view of the male until the sun went away, so his iridescence wasn't showing, but I could see his green back and his dark red throat.


There weren't too many other interesting birds today, although the female redwing blackbird came by late this afternoon. The male has been here since I put out the feeder. I expected to see them - the low place at the end of the harbor and the end of Lake Lilly is good redwing territory.


Now the only birds I know are here that I haven't seen are the loons, but the report I have is that they are fishing down at the west end of the harbor. I expect to see them sometime, since usually they nest in Lake Lilly, although they may have changed their spots because of the eagle nest. Jim says eagles will take a full-grown loon if they can get one. And I know a couple of years ago I watched an eagle harrying a poor little merganser, although she got away. The bird books say eagles eat mostly fish, but I really wondered if they were so particular. I suspect they eat anything they can catch.


Otherwise, I unpacked the last two boxes and threw them down the steps into the basement. The books are still on the hearth in the great room, but everything else is more or less stashed away. I will have to do some organizing in the office, but everything I brought is here now.


Somebody did an awful lot of furniture moving in the great room (why can't people put back things they move?), but I will move it back when I sweep the floor. Apparently the lights burned out in at least one lamp and maybe two, so I will have to check that out, too.


It isn't supposed to rain until tomorrow afternoon, so I hope Tom will come in tomorrow to put the screens in the doors and take the cover off the pond. I need to go to town for food, and it will have to be Tuesday. Wednesday is the ladies' meeting, and that is always fun to go to. That's where I heard about the tourons last year.


So slowly but surely I'm getting the house under control, and that is another lovely, quiet day in the field.


May 17

Oops! Apparently when I was shutting things down to go to dinner, I clicked on one too many "x"s and shut down the camera software, too. Ole' fast fingers strikes again...


It turned out to be a nicer day today than the weather seemed to predict. There was quite a lot of sunshine and the temperature got up to around 60º or a little higher, depending upon where I was.


Not that I did a lot. I did refill the big bird feeder and hung out the hummingbird feeders, and I strewed a big scoop of sunflower seeds on the deck. That went over very well, and a lot of them are gone already. There was a steady stream of birds pecking around at them, including several white crowned sparrows, who only eat on the ground. I notice that the two thistle socks are getting empty, too. 


Otherwise, I got up late and didn't do very much. I keep looking at the two boxes left in the great room and thinking I should do something, but I didn't.


I did notice, when I was out on the deck, that I've lost another red pine. There is one that is only a couple of feet from the deck, and it has turned all brown over the winter. That is a real disappointment, since I worked hard at the house site to save that tree. There is a little pine right beside it that will eventually grow up to take its place, but that will be a while. Now I have to find someone who is enough of a woodsman to take the tree down parallel to the deck and not onto it. Always something, isn't there?


I also noticed that one of the birches is sprouting little leaves that I know weren't there yesterday, so spring is barging onward at a great rate. My neighbor to the south, who is quite a gardener, apparently planted (or threw away? I will have to ask her) some daffodils across the road from her driveway, and they are coming into bloom. 


I can see iris and peonies coming up in my garden, and it looks like perhaps some of the roses made it through the winter, although I've been afraid to even look at them. I planted them (or supervised their planting) and totally ignored them for the rest of the summer, which was pretty dry. It would be really nice if they are growing.


Tomorrow I will have to make myself do something - either unpack a box or take a walk. Pretty soon the black flies will be out in force and walking won't be nearly so much fun for a while, so best I do it now. Stay tuned.


So another quiet day in the field.


May 16

i certainly was wrong about that! After I wrote last night's entry and uploaded it, I fiddled around with the computer until after the eclipse should have started before I turned off the monitor. I must say all those little green lights that tell me the speakers and the keyboard and the printer are on certainly get bright when my eyes begin to acclimate to the dark! For some reason the light on the speaker is particularly bright, and I had to prop a CD case in front of it to block it.


Anyway, I looked out the window, and there was the moon, about 15 minutes from the start of totality! I went outside briefly, but the moon was so low in the sky at that time that it was hidden behind one of my neighbor's trees. so I went back in where it was warmer and watched through the window. 


When the moon cleared the tree, I went back outside. It was only in the low 50s but it actually wasn't unpleasant, because there was no wind at all, and I sat on the steps and watched for about half an hour.


However, because I hadn't expected to see anything at all, I didn't make any preparations, like a jacket and a red flashlight (red doesn't destroy your dark adaptation, and while mine is good, it takes a while, and I don't like to have to do it over) and a star chart. Because when my eyes were fully dark adapted and I looked up, I realized that it was a sixth-magnitude night - I could see stars of the sixth magnitude, which is almost as good as it gets. Once or twice in my life I've seen better skies (here, of course), when probably I could see seventh magnitude stars, which are ordinarily not visible to the naked eye, but last night was pretty darn good. There were some things I could have seen, like the "Beehive" cluster in Hercules, except that it's been so long since I really looked at the sky that I couldn't find Hercules. I did find Boötes (that's hard to miss, because Arcturus is the brightest thing in that part of the sky) and Corona Borealis and Lyra. The Big Dipper was overhead, and I could see all the stars that make up the Little Dipper.


Anyway, maybe this summer we'll have some more clear skies. I hope so; I saw Mars in 1956, the last time it came anywhere near as close as it will be this summer. This summer it will be closer to Earth than any other time in the next several thousand years, and I would like to look at it through a telescope...


So the moon. I've observed any number of eclipses of the moon over the years, and every one is different and interesting. This one was very dark, with the part at 5 o'clock or so fading so much into the background that I couldn't see the edge right there. The center was sort of a dark coppery color on in the upper part, fading to black toward the south. However, and this was the interesting thing, I saw the entire rest of the edge as very bright and pale gray, even at mid-eclipse. Through the binoculars, it made the moon look really round. I thought that was a bit unusual, and none of the reports I've read so far mentioned it. I don't think it was just me.  The northern edge, between about 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock, stayed very bright anyway, because the moon was so close to the northern edge of the Earth's shadow, but that doesn't account for the brightness of the rest of the edge.


I didn't stay around to see anything after about mid-eclipse, because it was chilly outside and it was late and I was tired. One nice thing about this eclipse, so far as I was concerned, was that it was so low in the sky that I didn't have to risk a stiff neck to see it. The last one I saw (part of) was one January, and the moon was almost overhead. I sat out in the driveway on Champine in a lawn chair, wearing my down parka, and I was rather glad that it clouded up that night before I froze to death.


There is another lunar eclipse coming in November, right before I go home, and I will hope I can see it, too, because there isn't another one for several years, as I recall.


The sky clouded up by 3 am or so, and there was a covering of high clouds this morning, which gradually went away, and the afternoon was quite sunny and warm - into the middle 60s. Now it has gotten fairly cloudy again, but I should never forget that sometimes the clouds at sunset disappear after it gets dark. Never write off a chance to observe...


I was interested to see that all the stars had little rings around them, which has to be because of the cataracts, but I don't think I've lost so much of my visual acuity yet, so the telescope should be feasible. There is one company that is advertising a money-back guarantee for 30 days, which I think is a good idea, and I will have to see if they have a catalog. What do you bet their telescopes are hopelessly expensive? It would be nice to get one, try it out, and then if I can't see what I want to see, be able to send it back rather than possessing another expensive boat anchor. I do hope that once I get rid of the cataracts, I will be able to see well through a telescope, maybe better than i could when I was a kid.


Tonight was the Volunteer Fire Department's Spaghetti Dinner and bake sale, so I went and saw a bunch of people I know and like. I also came home with a nice selection of baked goods, including some sticky buns. Yum. Unfortunately, Shirley couldn't go, because her granddaughter was in a dance recital in Houghton (at the Rosza Center, no less!). Anyway, the food was good and the company was good and I didn't stay late.


This morning, a flock of blue jays descended upon the feeders and the deck is now pristine again. By the time I got home tonight, one jay had figured out how he can get into the feeder by hanging upside down from the perch. He sure looks funny, floundering around, but he is managing to get his sunflower seeds, which he lays on the deck or the railing and holds with his foot and pounds on until he gets them opened. So all afternoon, I kept hearing this tap-tap-tap like somebody pounding with a little hammer on my deck. Jays are pretty smart birds. They are also pretty, but noisy and belligerent. The little birds stay out of their way. When I came home this evening, there was the yellowest goldfinch I've seen eating at the metal feeder, so I guess they have that figured out. Tomorrow I think I am going to spread some seed right on the deck and see what that does, and I understand the hummingbirds are back, so I will have to get those feeders out and hope it doesn't freeze.


So there is another (night and) day in the field. Something new every day.


May 15

Well, it looks like my string of luck at seeing things in the night sky is going to be unbroken. After several days of essentially clear skies, it clouded up today. It even cleared some toward sunset, then the clouds thickened up, and so far, there is no moon at all that I can see. I will try again after I write this and turn off the monitor, but it looks like the only time I'll be able to do any observing is by  accident.


I never thought there were so many chipping sparrows around here. They were most of the visitors at the feeder today, and the one tube I filled with the little seeds is half empty already. The goldfinches arrived in force, however, and everybody finally figured out the metal feeder. The blue jays also arrived, but they were pretty much thwarted. One guy spent quite some time sitting on the railing eyeing the feeder (and drooling, no doubt), but he could see there was no place for him to hang on and get his beak into the seed. I'm sorry about that. I  may open the buggy bag of sunflower seed (the bugs are all dead - I left it out on the porch all winter and froze them) and put some of  it on the deck for the nice bigger birds. There was even a junco in the feeder. I didn't think they would feed off the ground, but at least one guy does. 


When I went back to the north end after breakfast, there was a little flock of white crowned sparrows pecking on the ground around the cedar tree. I guess, from the bird book, that they are on their way north, and evidently they don't know about bird feeders. They are neat little birds: they look like they are wearing a black and white striped bicycle helmet. There was also a very little, dark, stripy bird rooting around under the leaves, but it was so small and so quick and it stayed so much under cover that I couldn't see it well enough to even make a guess at what it was.


Buster spent quite some time watching the birds at the feeders, but he got most excited when first a pair of blue jays showed up, then a crow (or a raven? I can't tell the difference) lit on the railing to see what was going on. Buster has high hopes. I don't think he would fare very well in an encounter with a crow...or a blue jay, either. But he can dream.


Except to straighten up the kitchen and write a couple of checks, that was the extent of my activities for the day. I noticed, when I went to the post office, that some of the little bushes are beginning to show green, but we still have a way to go. I also noticed, with some relief, that the birch right outside the kitchen (the one that frames the webcam on the right) has its catkins.  I was a bit worried about it last year, since it didn't seem to leaf out very much, but it looks like it is still trying. I would really hate to lose that tree. It is one of my bigger birches, and it really adds something. Of course, around here, birches seldom completely die off. The big trunks do, but most clumps form side shoots and come up from the roots. The only one I know of that didn't do that was the huge one that I had cut down a long time ago. Its trunk was at least 15" in diameter, and its roots must have died. That was an impressive tree, but if it were still alive, I wouldn't have a garage, or at least I wouldn't have a garage where it is.


The last couple of years have been pretty dry, and that has stressed all the trees, especially those near the house, like the birch, that were jostled by the building. I watch them. I lost two pines last year, and I hope not to lose anything more for a while.


The weather, besides there being a lot of high clouds, was coolish, in the middle 50s, but there wasn't much of a breeze, and in fact, for most of the afternoon, the wind was calm. This end of the harbor was almost like a reflecting pool. It wasn't sitting-around weather, but it was pleasant to be outdoors.


So, about that moon...I will report tomorrow.


May 14

It is a most beautiful evening at the end of a most beautiful day. 


It didn't start out so beautiful, as I got a telephone call at 8am, saying that a man would be out to replace the transom windows over the great room slider, which broke their seal last year. The windows have actually been in Calumet since last November, but it was so close to the time I left and the weather was so bad, I wanted to wait until spring to put them in. This was a perfect day to have the door and the windows open.


The temperature here probably didn't get much above 55º, but it was sunny and there was a light breeze from the east (of all places). I guess there is some rain down around the bottom of Lake Michigan, but except for a few high clouds, we didn't see any traces of it.


The guy actually came earlier than he planned, because he had a problem and couldn't do the job he had scheduled before mine. Fortunately he called, because I was still in my nightie, and I had just time to dress before he got here. So everything was backwards, and I didn't get my face washed until after noon.


At least I now have nice, clear transom windows. That makes a difference when I am sitting at the table in the great room, and I can look up into the birch tree, where there have been some of the littlest birds I've ever seen picking at the bark for bugs.


Ah, the birds!  There as many chipping sparrows around here as there are house sparrows on Champine, and they will eat any seed they can get their bills around. That means the little seeds and thistle seeds. Sunflowers are too big for them, even though they're not too big for the chickadees. I do think I saw a couple of female goldfinches, but no males so far. I nearly missed the close of the post office (I try to go before he closes the window because I get so many packages) because I looked out and there on the big feeder was a male rose-breasted grosbeak!  What a pretty bird he is!  He was back several times later in the day, but he has a problem with the feeder, which is really built for littler birds. Some places that helps to keep the squirrels and big, greedy blackbirds away, but so far that hasn't been a problem here.


On my way back from the post office, there was a turkey vulture wheeling over the fort, probably because there are a few campers there and it smelled meat. 


Late in the day, there were several juncos pecking around where I spilled seed on the deck. They apparently won't perch on a stick and eat, so they don't get into the feeder, but that probably means they are gone from Champine. There has been a redwing blackbird several times, too, and I heard a blue jay, but I didn't see him. The big feeder I had last year was a better size for the larger birds.  And there was a white-throated sparrow, who pecks around on the ground, too. It is really tempting to scatter some of the little seeds on the deck for those birds that eat on the ground, but I'm not sure that would be a good idea. I know there is at least one squirrel around here.


This morning while I was eating breakfast, there was almost no wind, and there was a small boat out in our end of the harbor and a guy fishing. This end of the harbor is really pretty when there is no wind.


Apparently, the trees are starting to bud out further south in the peninsula, but so far only the maple flowers are out here, with no signs of green yet. This is the time of year when the difference the big, cold lake makes in the climate is most obvious. I know the lilacs will be in bloom around Hancock long before they come out here. But with all the sunshine, and the relatively warm temperatures, things should start to green up soon.


The only thing that has disappointed me is that the sky isn't really clear like I have seen it in the past (like the day I took the picture on my home page). There is a little haze overhead that makes the sky pale blue rather than dark blue. I hope that goes away one of these days. There is no bluer sky and no bluer water than here on the shores of the great lake when conditions are right.


I actually did get one of the boxes unpacked and the clothes put away. The other big box of clothes is mostly fleece and berber pullovers, which only need to be stashed away until fall, and my parka is in the bottom. I thought I might need my parka last weekend, but now it seems not. So slowly I'm getting organized. I will try to get the rest of the clothes unpacked tomorrow, then I can start on the other boxes, which I've opened and gone through, but I didn't unpack. There is craft stuff and books in them, mostly.


I have only just mentioned the dead flies, because there aren't nearly as many as there were last year (thank heavens!), and they all must have hatched after I left last fall, because I don't remember many flying around me. There are quite a few, however, mostly in front of the windows in the great room, so I will have to take care of that, too. Originally I thought I might do the cleaning before the unpacking, but that just hasn't been possible.


Well, the shades of night are falling fast (oops, that was one of my mother's phrases), so I will wrap this up. It was so cold in here when I got here that I have been wearing a flannel nightie, and I think that was probably why I didn't sleep very well last night - I was hot. Getting the right temperature at night is always hard for me at this time of year anyway, but I will try cotton tonight. I have yardage for two or three new cotton nightgowns with me, and I may at last try to make a couple of lightweight gowns with long sleeves and see if that helps in the spring and fall.


So that is the lovely view from the field, full of sunshine and little birds.


May 13

The birdies are coming! The birdies are coming!


It was such a lovely day today that I pulled up the shutters on the porch (so I could see what I was doing), filled all the new bird feeders, and hung them in the tree. You can't see all of them in the camera, but there is one more I want to get (a metal one) before I decide just how to arrange them. I moved the camera angle a bit, to its summer position, so you can see the feeders. That means you can't see the end of lighthouse point, but I think the waves rolling in through the channel will still be visible. 


I also hung one of my remote thermometers in the same tree as the feeders and the other in the spruce beside the garage. While they are both reading about the same (46º) now, this morning, with the wind, the one in the lee of the house was six or more degrees warmer than the one on the water side. That's typical, and in fact, sometimes there can be 10º or more difference between them. The spruce is one of the few trees left of our old cold-weather picnic spot. When the wind was too strong and cold to sit where the house is now, we would take our chairs down in back of the spruce and watch the birds in the trees in the backyard. We (my mother and I) once watched a white-breasted nuthatch hang head-down on the end of a red pine branch for half an hour or so and demolish a pinecone.


It certainly was nice to see the sun! It's getting a bit cloudy now, but for most of the day it was quite clear. I even got to sit in the ugly chair, because DC was sleeping in his spot in the south window with the sun shining right on him. I don't know how he could stand the heat. It actually wasn't what you could call warm. My thermometers read in the middle 50s, but the official NWS temperature barely made it above 50º, and there was a brisk north wind. 


I didn't actually take a hike, but I did walk to the end of the driveway and back. The juneberries will be in flower in a  short while and the maples are flowering. Some birches have catkins, and there is a willow bush beside the driveway that I have tried several times to get rid of that has pussies on it. They are smaller than an ornamental pussy willow flowers, but they look just the same. The rest of the trees are still dormant. It looks like most of my pretty wildflowers from last summer were annuals, and I don't see much growing but that winter cress stuff I hate.


When I walked out onto the deck and looked north, however, my neighbor's forsythia was in full bloom. It's in a good position, almost in the middle of a field, so that if it spreads, it won't intrude on something else. I think forsythias are pretty bushes, but I've never found one that didn't grow like crazy and try to take over the entire garden. The one on Champine has had to be chopped back so drastically that it hardly bloomed at all this year (they bloom on last year's stems).


I opened up all the boxes to see which ones were clothes and which were crafts, but I didn't even start to put anything away. Tomorrow is another day. I spent some time sitting in the ugly chair just enjoying my view, and I would have gone back to it, except that when I got up, DC got in, so that was that.


I must also mention that last night was a beautifully clear night. I watched Regulus setting from my bed, and there was moonlight in the room all night. I happened to wake up as the moon was setting over the mountain (it is full on Thursday) and there is enough moisture in the air that it was very yellow and left a wide, bright yellow path on the harbor. Even DC was looking at it. I am particularly enjoying being able to look out my bedroom windows without having to duck the lighthouse light. I know the trees were beginning to cover it last fall, but I think they must have grown over the winter, because they are now higher than the light tower.


The weather people are prediction pretty clear weather for the rest of the week (I really want to see that eclipse!) and it should be just a bit warmer, into the middle or upper 50s by the lake and into the middle 60s inland. That will be nice. It had been very dry around here, and we needed all that rain, but I really don't think we needed it all at once. Spread out over several weeks might have been better. Oh, well. We takes what we gets.


The one little problem with the sun is that by about 3pm this afternoon, the temperature was 80º in the office and almost that warm in the great room. Since I am wearing a sweatshirt with a turtleneck  underneath it, I got a bit warm. However, opening the east window in the office and the slider in the great room solved that problem nicely, thank you. I shut things when the thermometer said 70º in the office, because I didn't want the heat to come on. It's nice to have ready, free air conditioning...and solar heating, for that matter.


When I was dreaming about this place, I had always wondered if I could arrange the south-facing wall so that I could have a solar water heater (or heat the heating water). Instead, I have this lovely office, which is more useful. Besides, while we tend to have plenty of sunshine in the summer, it is limited and very low in the sky in the winter, so the scheme probably wouldn't have worked very well. As it is, in weather like this, I am in fact using the sun as a supplemental heating device, which is sort of neat. The house is well enough insulated that it doesn't seem to lose that much heat at night. Now, over the past two summers, when we had those horrible hot spells, I ended up having all the windows open and all the ceiling fans on for days at a time.


And that is the other reason I fervently hope no more bears find my deck. A bear could get through any of the screens without half trying, and I really do not want a bear in my house, thank you.


I managed to stick to my resolution to keep my hands mostly off the computer today, and at the very least, I was able to sit and knit and look at my view. That's much nicer, and much easier on the eyes and the hands. Let's hope I can keep it up.


So that is another lovely day in the field. How great it is to be here!


May 12

It was a wild and wooly night on the shores of the great lake last night, let me tell you!  The freight train was awfully close for most of the night, and it was blowing and raining. By morning, things were beginning to calm down and lighten up, but it was still sprinkling, and the wind was still pushing the lake in.


According to my sources, between 2 and 4.5 inches of rain fell in those 24 hours and most rivers and creeks were in flood this morning. In fact, Jacob's Creek, which is usually a pretty but well-confined falls right beside M-26, was flowing over the road! I've seen it like that once before, a number of years ago when I arrived in Keweenaw on the heels of a very heavy and violent thunderstorm.


The morning was considerably brighter than yesterday, and it probably stopped raining around noon, and it has been clearing up ever since. Now, about sunset, it is partly cloudy, with the temperature in the low 50s. The wind has been dropping all day long, too, and is now less than 10 mph. What fun!


I spent most of the day inside, although I did poke my nose out a couple of times, once to put the mat outside the breezeway door, and again to hold the storm door when the UPS truck arrived with my boxes. It felt rather nice out, and I suppose I should have taken a short walk. Tomorrow will be nicer, however, and i will try to make myself go out.


Today, I moved all the stuff out of the breezeway, but I was reluctant to get out the vacuum when DC was sleeping so peacefully in the office. I did get the throws in position, one beside each window, and DC immediately jumped off my lap onto the desk and had a nice long snooze in the sun. The south window is his place, and Buster has appropriated the east window, where he is right now.


Buster was asleep until DC stomped on the paper bag Clyde (the postmaster) gave me for all my junk mail. I sorted that this morning and threw out at least half of it. I had been wondering why I wasn't getting certain catalogs in Grosse Pointe any more, and it turns out, they are all being sent here. I had bought things from them, and apparently somebody thought I moved permanently. So now I have a nice pile of the good stuff to go through and hope I don't see anything I can't live without.


I really didn't do a lot today, I confess, and I'm still tired again, but I will go to bed fairly early tonight again and tomorrow I can attack the boxes. I'm sure when I unpack all that stuff, I will wonder why I brought it, just like I wondered when I got to Grosse Pointe last fall, why I had shipped all that stuff back. Only this time, I have a trip in the middle of the summer to try to get things properly sorted out. I only hope that one of these years, I will have this migration thing figured out. The problem, however, is that for all my life I have had this need to have all my stuff around me, and I haven't yet figured out how to have GP-stuff and CH-stuff and keep them separate. Heaven forbid that I should end up with two of everything! Eek! What an awful thought!


Anyway, I did want to start making a pattern for one of the sweaters I want to knit, and then I couldn't remember whether I brought the swatches, so having the boxes here will make it easier, I think, to determine what I have. I do believe I  brought all the right knitting needles.


Now that the wind and the rain have calmed down, I want to see if I can get the bird feeders hung out. I am assuming that last year's bear is no more, and maybe I can keep the feeders out so we can enjoy the birds. I know all three of us love to watch them, and so do some people who look at the live cam. We'll see how it goes. I did get a metal thistle feeder last year, and when I go down to Houghton, I will have to see if I can get the same sort of thing to hold sunflower seeds. I noticed last year that thistle and sunflower were the two seeds that disappeared fast, while the mixed seeds didn't. I won't be able to put the hummingbird feeders out for a while, because it is still getting close to freezing at night, but as soon as it warms up a bit more, I will get them hung out.


So we are settling in, and except when the UPS truck arrived, we seem pretty happy about it. The weather looks to improve some this week, so that will be nice, too. Another day at home in the field.


May 11

Well! We're having a wonderful nor'easter in Keweenaw today!


It was still cloudy and breezy when I came back from dinner last night, and just as I left the restaurant, the sky in the northwest started to turn red. For about five minutes, it was really pretty, but by the time I got home, it was all gone. This morning, however, I discovered that the last two pictures from the camera were pretty nice. I missed that part, since I was in the shower at the time.


About 2am this morning (according to John Dee) it started to rain, and it has been raining hard to torrential all day long, with winds from 20mph to 45mph, but they started out from the northeast and have now backed NNE, so I am protected. The lake has been speaking very loudly, and the trees have been thrashing violently, but this time, I'm in the lee of the land. I'm just as glad.


It would have been a wonderful day to go over to pebble beach and watch the lake, but even John, who is a lot hardier than I am, agreed that it is just too nasty to be out at all. The temperature has hovered around 40º all day, with wind chills under 30º, and my down parka is en route via UPS: I never thought I'd need it now. It was a good day to hibernate, so I did.


The phone line didn't wake up this morning, so we got a late start, and I have had one devil of a time keeping the line up all day long, so pictures have been posting to the website rather sporadically. Not that there is much to see: the wind has blown the rain over the windows, and besides, it's been misty over the harbor. Too bad, too, because the waves coming in the harbor have been pretty spectacular. I don't apologize for not running out and cleaning up the window. You see what I see.


Weather is so interesting on the shores of Lake Superior. You just never know what will happen next. According to the Weather Underground (which I've found is next in accuracy to John, who doesn't start his forecasts until tomorrow), this is going to continue until tomorrow night, then it will calm down and stop raining. They still say the end of the week will be clear, but I hardly dare to hope I actually will get to see the eclipse on Thursday (I hardly dare to talk about it).


The moon seems to have been up there last night, because occasionally I could see light behind the clouds, and early in the morning, there was a glow right over the hills, which was probably the moon setting...or else something was on fire, which I doubt.


I have been sleeping forever, it seems, but I really extended myself getting here, and I am recovering slowly. Before I pooped out for the day, however, I got the cage out into the garage (watched with great interest by one white cat), and put away all the cat food. I finished unloading the dishwasher, and began reloading it, and it is now a little easier to get around in the kitchen. I think when I finish this, I will put the cooler in the breezeway, and that will help a lot. There are still boxes and things in the breezeway that need to be brought in, but in order to finish cleaning the office today (at least, this is my excuse) I would have had to turn on the lights, which would have interfered with the camera (big sheepish grin). There is no deadline on these things, however, and it will all eventually get done.


So we had a quiet day, and I will go to bed early again tonight and try to get myself back together. This weather makes all three of us sleepy, and I don't have any reason to stay up.


I must mention that whatever caused DC to abandon the ugly chair last summer, he has forgotten it, and he slept very comfortably, thank you, there all day long. Probably seeing me sitting there Friday night convinced him nothing would bite him. So now we will have to argue about who gets to sit there.


I just went out to the kitchen to put my pizza in the oven (thankfully, I stocked the freezer rather well before I left last fall), and apparently the wind is backing northerly and pushing the water into the harbor, because there were rather respectable breakers on my beach. It will be a good night to sleep. I love to hear the lake roaring like a freight train, but when the wind starts beating at the front windows, it gets pretty noisy around here, and that won't be a problem tonight. The breakers are rolling in between the lighthouse and Porter Island, and this time they are hitting the south shore of the harbor over by the fort headquarters. If I could see through the windows, it would be fun to just sit and watch them.


So the view from the field is full of raindrops today, but it is so good to be here to see and hear it in person!


May 10

First off, we made it safe and sound. 


My best-laid plans went slightly awry. I had intended to do a journal before I backed up the files on Wednesday, and remembered that fact as I was about half-way through the backup. So I will try to take it in order.


I diddled around Wednesday morning until it started to rain, then about 2pm I called the package store, to discover, to my horror, that they were only open until 4pm! I haven't moved quite that fast in a while, but by 3:45 four large boxes and one small box (why did I bring all that stuff back??) were in the car. Unfortunately, there was some kind of traffic situation about three blocks beyond the store which left bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic back six blocks or so toward my house. If ever I needed a final convincing that it was time to get out of there, that was it. There are far too many people and far too many cars in the Detroit Metro area.


I finally whipped around the back of the store, then had to walk around to the front (and I don't walk very fast) but the door was still open when I went in and I got my boxes shipped off. They should get here Monday or Tuesday. On the way back around to my car, I just happened to pass the doorway to a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream shop, so I ducked in and treated myself. Since my dinner was soup, I didn't feel too guilty, and it was good. It has to have been fifteen years or more since I had Baskin-Robbins ice cream, and it was a lot richer and creamier than I remembered. I enjoyed every bite. And I was totally exhausted by the time I got home.


Thursday, I got a little earlier start, and besides, I had to do most of the sorting the day before. I packed up the two file boxes of papers while I was talking to Debbie on the phone.  She is OK, but recovering slowly from her surgery. She is still rejoicing in not having to have chemo, but she is still working through the idea that she has cancer at all.


I had gone out around noon for food, and ended up not getting my free food. Going to two stores would have taken more time than I wanted to spend, so I went to the Food Emporium and got everything I wanted including three sandwiches - one for dinner Thursday, one for the trip, and one for last night. When I got back, I put the cage in the car, and all the time I was fiddling with it, there was a white cat sitting in the windows watching me with a very sour look on his face! DC knew what that meant.


Thankfully, I didn't have much trouble from the cats while I was hauling boxes down the stairs and loading the car. Buster was sort of a pest, but I guess they both knew getting in my way would only make me grumpy. I actually finished loading shortly after 7pm, which was pretty early for me, and after I sat down and ate my sandwich and two double JD's, I went to bed, much earlier than I usually do the night before traveling.


Friday morning, it was raining when I got up (at 6am). Despite my best efforts the day before, there was still a lot of small stuff I had to get into the car. I fed the cats on the porch and closed the screen while they were eating, which caused great consternation and unhappiness, but since they knew we were leaving, I didn't trust them not to run away and hide. I may know where they go, but there are several places I could never get them out of.


With all the loading and tidying up, we didn't start off until about 8:45, later than I'd hoped, but we missed the worst of the rush hour. There was quite a slowdown at the intersection of I-696 and I-75, but there always is at that time of day. So we got off.


By the time we left, it had stopped raining, but it was cloudy and there was a stiff wind from the east all the way across the bridge. As usual, traffic was bad until Bay City, then it thinned out to almost nothing. I was surprised at the number of RVs and campers heading north already, but of course, just  because spring is late in Michigan doesn't mean it's late in other parts of the country.


And spring is very late. There was a little green in the trees until about West Branch, but north of there, while the grass and weeds are starting to green up, the trees are stark bare. I had toyed with the idea of stopping to take pictures if I saw the flowers under the trees in the Hiawatha National Forest, like I did last year, and there was not a sign of a flower. The daffodils in people's yards were just beginning to open! What a late spring it is!


It started to rain hard at Munising. Fortunately, I'd gotten hungry about 11am and taken a package of sandwich out of the cooler, because it was raining so hard when I got to my usual lunch spots - Scott Falls and Deer lake - that I didn't stop. In fact, I didn't stop after I got gas in Newberry. Probably that was a mistake, except that I just didn't want to be hassling the cat carrier full of cat food and the cooler in the pouring rain.


I'm sorry it was raining, because from Scott Falls west, there was slush ice along the shore, and Marquette harbor was full of ice (and fog). I didn't think I'd ever get to see that in May. It would have been fun to take pictures.


There wasn't much traffic after Marquette, which was good, because there was some pretty weird driving going on. I nearly rear-ended a jeep when the person in front of her abruptly decided to turn right. My, but I love those anti-lock brakes! Fortunately, I wasn't right on the jeep's tail, although I was following closer than I usually do, and I was able to stop about a foot behind her. I think maybe that incident shook up the jeep driver, because she slowed down markedly afterwards, but I was able to get around her at the next passing lane.


Strangely enough, there wasn't a peep out of the back at that maneuver, although at intervals, Buster had been waking up and hollering loudly, and once DC gave voice.


The rest of the ride was uneventful, although I did get behind a jerk coming north on US-41 out of Hancock and only gave him the slip by taking the Cliff Drive a little faster than I probably should have (by that time in the trip, I just wanted it to be over). There was nobody else on my side of the road all the rest of the way here.


Lighthouse road is in horrible condition, and I can see where the snow was, because there is nearly a foot on either side of the road, but evidently somebody came through with either a 4WD vehicle or a plow last week, and there is no snow on the road.


I can't tell you how happy I was to have my garage, because it was still raining when we got here. We pulled in around 7pm (I think, a new record), but it was after 8 before everything was out of the car, the cats were fed and I could sit down in the ugly chair and have my sandwich and JD. Most of the boxes are still in the breezeway, except for just what I needed.


It was cold in the house, and it was still only about 60º when I went to bed, after enjoying my lovely shower. Sometime during the night, it finally got warm. I am going to have to investigate why it takes so long to warm up, except that those water lines are awfully long and there is lots of antifreeze in them. Anyway, all night long, the floors were warm, which was nice.


I am pleased to report that the lighthouse is in operation, but either last fall or over the winter the trees have finally gotten tall enough that, while I can see the light from my bed, it doesn't hit me in the eyes and blind me like it did.


I am still tired and I have achy muscles in my shoulders particularly (last night in bed, my knees were bothering me). My problem now is that there are so many things to do, I hardly know where to start. There were flies, but they must have hatched after I left last fall, so there is a lot of sweeping to do (not to mention the dust). I did get my clothes unpacked and swept out the closet and the bathroom, and I partially swept the office before I started on the computer stuff.


Anybody who wonders why I want to get rid of msn should have looked at my email. I had over 100 messages, of which about 10 were things I really wanted to see, and 4 of those were from pastynet. Especially with the slow speed connection I have here, it takes forever to download that stuff, and it is all garbage. Who needs that?


When I opened the cage last night, Buster ran under the couch (of course!), but DC proceeded to inspect the entire house (he was very upset until I opened the bedroom door, which I had closed to try to get it to warm up). While I was sitting in the ugly chair enjoying the view, he got on the footstool and looked out over the harbor for five minutes or so, then he turned his back on it. So much for that! However, today, both cats were interested in what was going on outdoors. In fact, right now, Buster is sitting by the back window in the office, watching the parade that is going on outside (what parade? Darned if I know).


Tomorrow I am really going to have to attack the kitchen, where I have just dropped a bunch of stuff, and I haven't completely unloaded the dishwasher (mental note - try not to do a full load the day I leave!). There is dusting and sweeping to do there and in the bedroom, I need to get the cage out of the house (blessed garage, again!) and the boxes in from the breezeway.


Tonight, as soon as I finish this, I am meeting Shirley for dinner at Mariner - prime rib buffet! Yum! Somebody else's cooking!


So that is the story of our migration north. We're here. Hug a house.


May 6

I'm trying to get back in the habit of journaling daily. so we'll see. On that subject, tomorrow's journal will be the last until Saturday (the 10th). After I upload it, I will copy the files to the laptop and shut down the computer here, since Thursday will be a busy day and I want to get to bed early Thursday night.


As for today...it started badly. I was in panic mode when I went to bed last night, and as a result I didn't get much sleep. Ugh. I went to see Carey, briefly, to leave off the things I had mounted, choose a frame for the one I'm working on now, and get the floss for a new project. That didn't take too long, and I didn't do too much damage to the credit card, I'm glad to say. That was partly because she was out of town last week and doesn't have her latest shipments out. Just as well.


When I got home, I took a little fortification and started on the kitchen. What a job!  It took longer because about every 15 minutes I had to stop and sit down and rest my back. However, right now it looks as good as it's going to and I'm exhausted. When I get done here I will have some pea soup and crash. Maybe I'll sleep better tonight.


I forgot to mention in my last entry the excitement we had around here last Saturday morning. About 3am I woke up to find both cats awake and staring out the back door of my bedroom (which opens onto the roof of the porch). While I was looking, something black hesitated on the kitchen roof, then jumped onto the porch roof and ran toward the trees, and a few seconds later, another, smaller thing did the same. Since I didn't have my glasses on, and it was pretty dark, I have no idea what they were. I don't think they were the right shape for raccoons or possums, and they were about the size of a large cat, but what two cats were doing on my kitchen roof, I don't know. Weird. It certainly interested the kitties!


Today's excitement was more like a chuckle. While I was resting, I looked out in the yard as a black squirrel  came up from the back. My beds are edged with used bricks, and it has always amused me that both the cats and the squirrels would rather use the bricks than walk on the grass or in the dirt. Anyway, about even with the front of the garage is the stump of an old cherry tree which my mother left about three feet high. Several years ago, Debbie gave me a cement squirrel for my yard, and I set it up on the stump. I think it has taken the real squirrels a good long time to get used to it, because I used to find it lying on the ground beside the stump fairly regularly. Today, when I looked out, the cement squirrel was still there, but perched on top of it was a real squirrel. It was too bad the camera is upstairs (and I was too tired to race up and get it) because it was a most amusing sight.


On the way back from seeing Carey, I stopped and stocked up on a little cat food, so I won't have to worry about that for a while. Again on my travels, I got to thinking there are entirely too many people around here - and they area all in cars! - and I will be glad to get to a place where traffic isn't bumper to bumper all the time!


Tomorrow's task is to get the boxes packed and to the packaging store. It will be a lot easier to push the boxes out the back door now that the kitchen floor isn't covered with piles of books and boxes and things.  If I have time, I will get a few food items I'm running out of. I spent enough money in Kroger's last month that I am entitled to a modest discount, and I want to use it. If I don't get there tomorrow, I will go to both supermarkets Thursday. Farmer Jack has better sandwiches, and I think I'm going to be lazy and buy one rather than try to make one Friday morning.


And, of course, the car has to be packed before I go to bed Thursday. I'm hoping that I can actually get almost everything except the cooler in the car, which will make Friday morning a tad easier.


Of course, nothing is packed, and instead of trying to sort through the papers, I'm just going to take them all with me and sort them when I get to Copper Harbor. I'm still agonizing over the crafts, but what goes will go, and if I miss something I want, I'll be back (briefly) in August.


The weather, by the way, has gotten nice again. We had two days of heavy rain here and one day in Copper Harbor, but today was sunny both places. It was apparently in the 50s in Copper Harbor today, but it got into the 70s here. It would have been a lovely afternoon to sit on my patio and do nothing, but that's not permitted.


Wow, in three days, I'll be sitting in my field!


May 4

Well, the house is a total disaster, but actually, I am making progress. I've sorted the clothes and put away everything that is staying here and made piles of the rest. It looks a lot better than it did last year, but all the fleece and berber tops, plus the parka, are still in the basement. Two boxes should do it for clothes. Now if I can keep the craft box within bounds...


Yesterday I finished mounting all the needlework that will get mounted before I go. There are four pieces that didn't make it. I think I mentioned that when I washed them, threads ran on two of them. I was just about to start lacing the third one when I realized that it, too had run, so I made an executive decision not to mount the fourth one (they are a set) until I have done the other three over again. That's not as bad as it sounds, since they are only about 5" square, and they are all special stitches, so it's fun to do them. I don't really like to do things more than once, but I figure this is penance for having washed something that didn't need it and shouldn't have been washed. In the future, I will try to be more careful, especially with the silk that says it doesn't wash. Light colors seem to be fine, but the dark red and bright blue aren't colorfast. Oh, well. Live and learn.


Actually, one of the other pieces had some runs, too, but it is far less noticeable, fortunately, because that one has some special beads that I don't have more of.


The real reason for this entry is to mention that I took the time tonight (about three hours) to fill in the webcam pages for 2002 and 2003(to date), so now all the pictures in the website (oh - except for a couple I took here) are accessible from the Gallery. The 2003 display is particularly neat, because I saved a lot of sunset pictures while the sun was moving across the camera field, and you can see how it moved just by looking at the thumbnails. Besides, already there have been some pretty cool shots - a couple of the moon, and that one foggy sunset.


It wasn't an easy exercise, and I had just about finished 2003 when all of a sudden, all the displays of pictures and tables went haywire, and I had to close the files and restart FrontPage and hope I didn't lose too much. I probably did lose some comments I added to some of the picture pages, but I was a little reluctant to accept changes when I was looking at a blank, blue page!


Oh, yes, it took DC about a day before he got over his mad about getting hauled off to the doctor - I think he just couldn't stand it any longer, not being petted. Unfortunately, his blood tests were not entirely good. His red blood count was a tad low (although that may have been because he was so uncooperative that they didn't get much blood), and his creatinine level was a bit high. That may mean his kidneys are beginning to go. I will have to watch him, and maybe get him tested again over the summer. I would hate to see that happen, because there's not much that can be done for cats who have kidney failure. I mean, realistically, there isn't. I've read about doing dialysis on cats, and just lately about kidney transplants for cats, but much as I love DC, I can't see putting him through all of that. Especially at his age, if I can keep him comfortable as long as possible, I think that's about the best I can do. There is a special diet that helps some, but I am just going to have to get used to the idea that I won't have him for too many years more.


So that is where things stand, and in five days, I will be back in my field.


May 1

Whew! So here it is May 1, and I haven't said anything for quite a while. Oh, well. It's not that I haven't been doing something. By the way, the camera was off from about 1:30 until 5:15 this afternoon. Phone lines again, no doubt!


Monday was a very warm day here - close to 80º - and I had the kitchen slider open. Before I came down here to the computer, I thought I put the latch on the screen, but about 9:30, Buster came down and started rubbing and practically turning summersaults, and when I went upstairs - there was the door, wide open...and no white cat!  I called him and wandered around, but it seemed clear he had gotten out. Finally, I shut the door (it was cooling off) and turned out the floodlight, and shortly after, DC came sneaking up the steps, looking horrified that the door was shut!  While I ate my dinner (rather late, to be sure!), he sat across the room from me with a very satisfied look on his face.


When he came for his evening pet in the bathroom, after I put down the bathmat, his feet and his face were filthy, but he was purring like a furnace. Whew!  At least he came back in!


In the meantime, the camera captured its first crepuscular rays. I'm not quite sure why, but that's one of my favorite atmospheric sights of all. I guess it reminds me of the old pictures that showed God talking to some prophet. Anyway, it was pretty.


Tuesday morning, when I got up, he was absolutely, sparkling clean. He must have spent most of the night taking his bath. Even his back, in front of his tail, which has been sort of greasy lately, was nice and clean. His eyes were sparkly, and he was full of vitality, even sort of chasing Buster!  I have no idea what he did while he was outside, but it sure gave him a lift!


Tuesday was supposed to be Debbie's surgery day, but when I called her at around 10:30, her cell phone was off, so I went off to the eye doctor. 


I am happy to report that my corneal pressure was down, which is a real relief to me. My mother never developed glaucoma, but she had to use drops for the last five or six years of her life to prevent it. At least I don't have that problem yet! However, there was a definite, marked change in my lenses - I'm developing cataracts in both eyes rather quickly, so quickly that the doctor suggested I might not want to wait an entire year to see him and talk about it.


I'm really disappointed in that, but I have to believe that all the high-dosage chemo had a lot to do with it. Apparently they are letting the patient decide when to do the surgery, and it will have to be when I begin to have real trouble driving at night. Unlike some people, since I'm by myself, I simply can't be in a position where I can't drive at night.


Debbie finally called me yesterday. It seems that on Monday, they called and rescheduled her surgery even earlier on Tuesday, and she had to be at the hospital at 6:30 - and sat and did nothing until 8:30 - just like always happened to me. I simply do not understand why hospitals make patients come in hours before they conceivably could be needed, like we had nothing  better to do but sit and wait. That's why they call us patients, isn't it?


Anyway, the surgery went well, she went home around 7pm, and she will get the results of the lymph node biopsy on Monday. This is the hardest time of all, when you are waiting to find out just how bad things are. I feel really bad for her.


Last night was the last choir practice of the year, at least for me, and it was raining when I came out. I was glad to see the rain, because it's  been extremely dry around here, but it rained and thundered all night long, and woke me up several times. I didn't do a journal because I went upstairs when I got home and sat and read and knitted a bit before I crashed.


I've decided I prefer thunderstorms in Copper Harbor, where you can see the lightening, and the thunder echoes the hills. Here, it was just noisy.


Today, the kitties got to go to their doctor - oh, joy! I shut them up on the porch during breakfast, which they did not like, and this time, it was DC that I had to chase upstairs to get him onto the porch, and I had to chase him around the porch to grab him and put him in the carrier. What did he do when he was out?


The good news is that there is now a combination vaccine that includes the rabies and does not seem to leave the cat liable to cancer. I was very happy to know that. However DC had lost another pound or more, and even though he looks and acts fine, the doctor wanted to do blood tests on him. He is over 14 now, and old cats are prone to hyperthyroidism and diabetes. Last year, he was fine, but a year is a long time in a cat's life. i will get the results tomorrow.


I think it was Monday that I got the boxes to ship my stuff, but they aren't even ready to be packed yet. I keep making mental lists - and putting off doing anything about them.  However, this afternoon, on the way to get my hair cut, I took the bags of clothes to church for New Mount Olive, so those are out of the way.


And tonight, I cleaned out the fridge and put out the papers and a lot of catalogs to recycle. After I finish this, I will sift the hard stuff out of the cat pans and sweep in this room.


So slowly, I am gearing up to go, assuming that I can get down the road on the 9th. I am working backward from that date now...Thursday, I pack the car. Wednesday, I take the boxes to the shipper and do some final food shopping. Tuesday I will have to visit Carey, not only to leave off the framing, but I need some thread for a new project. Tomorrow I will try to get the car in to be greased and oiled, then I can spend the next three days trying to get things together and packed. The clothes aren't such a problem as the craft stuff. I have entirely too much stuff laid out, and I will have to go through it again and try to get it down to one box and maybe a box to go with me. Oh, yes, and my bed is covered with filing. Gaaaakkkk!!!!!!!!


Mayday! Mayday!


It seems to me that I feel the same way at this time every year, but most things do eventually get done. At least this year I am feeling pretty good, and that helps a lot.


So now to do the rest of my chores, and then to bed...




Last  updated 08/04/11 08:45 PM