A View From the Field








November, 2003

November 30

Sorry for the hiatus last night, but I just didn't have much to say. While It started out clear here, it was cloudy all day in Copper Harbor, and It clouded up here. Besides, I somehow managed to stay up until 2 am Friday, and I got up so late yesterday that I didn't do much at all except finish my little embroidery project - at least the embroidery part.


I went to bed early last night and couldn't get to sleep, so I should have started early tonight, too, but, well, there's that new game...its name is Puzzle Inlay, and it is a great time waster, just like the others. I'm sure I will get tired of it, because as one plays through the levels, they get harder, and after a while beating on the same old puzzle board and losing every time gets boring.


There was some sunshine this  morning, a period of  clouds around noon, then it seems to have cleared up again somewhat, but I was in the basement. I should have been installing my new memory, but instead I did some things that have convinced me I was right to get it, with the computer hanging up and not being able to do a Scandisk because something was swapping all the time. The new Norton Internet Security is impressive, but it must be an absolutely humungous program. We'll see how things are after I do the upgrade...maybe tomorrow? I will also take the opportunity to dust out the inside of the computer case. If the one in Copper Harbor is any indication, the leading edges of the cooling fans will be matted with cat hair.


Oh, it snowed in Copper Harbor this afternoon, fairly heavily for a while, and it looks like there was a couple of inches on the deck. It must have been fairly warm, because there were water drops on the window, but for a while the other end of the harbor completely disappeared. Snow is predicted for every day this week, so I guess real winter is beginning. Gale force winds are predicted, too, so it could get interesting tonight and tomorow. Unless it's going to be an unusual winter, it will probably be the end of the year before the road closes, but it won't be easy to get around.


Besides going to church this morning, where we sang the Advent hymns, and the blue paraments were on the altar, it was another lost day.  I had thought about making bean soup, but I ate the last container full out of the freezer instead. Maybe next week. I was looking around for my next embroidery project, and I'm not finding anything that really interests me, so I will fiddle with a couple more little things.


Tomorrow I really must call the magazines and change my address, and Tuesday I see Dr. Lehman and the dentist. 


There are only three choir rehearsals before Christmas (!), so I imagine the next three Wednesdays will be late ones. Since Bruce is an integral part of the children's Christmas service, I'm not sure he will be able to schedule an extra rehearsal for us unless we are even worse than usual. That children's service is the Sunday before Christmas, and I stay home. I opted out when I was a kid, and I don't like to see other people's kids make fools of themselves either.


So it was another quiet day in the field in exile, and November is over.


November 28

I guess I'll say something, although I don't have much to say. It was a very dull, dreary day in both Copper Harbor and Detroit, dark and spitting rain or snow. It had been drizzling here this morning, and I looked up to see what looked like fluffy little snowballs coming down. It didn't last long, and it didn't stick, but it was snow. From the pictures, it appears there was one snow squall around 3:15 in Copper Harbor. Otherwise, it was a blah day, not worthy of even looking at.


I did sleep better last night - like somebody hit me over the head for three or four hours - but I am still having strange dreams, and I was up a lot. It might be partly because of the beets, which are a diuretic, but it's also probably because I am not sleeping really well.


I had to get up at about 6:30, and poor Buster got so excited because he thought I was going to get up. Ha! Fat chance!  But when he came to us, I was working, and I got up every weekday at 6 or 6:30, and he still thinks that's the time to rise. I actually did get up around 9:30, and by that time he was having his morning siesta, which he finished just about the time I went back upstairs. Then we had a problem, because he wanted to sit on me and probably go to sleep on  my lap, and I had other things I wanted to do.


Poor Buster! I think he has finally realized DC isn't coming back, and he doesn't like the situation at all.


I finished one of the little things I was working on and am half through the other part (a scissors case and fob), and then I collected up the upstairs trash. For various reasons, the wastebasket in the bathroom here is about half the size of the one at Rainbow's End, so it really has to be emptied every week, and a lot of the stuff that got deposited in the office there gets put in the basket in my bedroom, which isn't very big either.


Later on, after dark, I got the boxes out of the living room (the stuff in them is mostly lying on the living room floor) and emptied the kitchen trash basket, so provided the garbage collectors look up my driveway tomorrow morning, I should be getting rid of all that. I should probably have recycled, too, but I have bags of magazines and newspapers in two or three places and I just didn't get them collected up. When I recycle, my bin is usually filled to overflowing anyway, although there will be fewer cat food cans now.


Buster was lying on my lap in front of the computer a while ago, and for some reason he twitched to try to get up, and caught my left thumb with his claw. I guess I yelled loud enough that he knew he did something bad, because he ran away and hid before he came back to see if I'd gotten over it.


So it was a quiet, dull day in the field in exile. It's late now, but that should mean I will sleep better tonight. We'll see. I don't want to start free-wheeling again, because there are things I have to do fairly early in the morning, at least for a while, but it's hard, especially when I am trying out a new game...although I don't think it's good enough to buy.


Clouds over the field today.


November 27, Thanksgiving Day

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, with all of their favorite people and all of their favorite foods around them.


It certainly was a day when all the warmth and light there was had to come from within. It was dull and dark and spitting rain here and snow in Copper Harbor, so nobody had any excuse not to be inside. The temperatures were in the mid 30s in Copper Harbor, and in the mid-40s here.


For myself, this was a very quiet day. Carol, with whom I frequently spend Thanksgiving, is in Nevada with her daughters and her grandchildren, and while Debbie invited me informally, I just could not see driving 50 miles.


So I am waiting for my pasty, one of the new batch, to heat through, and enjoying the end of a contemplative day.


It didn't help that I didn't sleep at all well last night. I just don't know why - I was tired and not terribly uncomfortable, and I didn't have any stomach troubles or anything, but I woke up about 2am after a bad dream and was wakeful for the rest of the night.


(I just got a porno spam message that proclaimed "I am the classic girl next store"! Egad - they can't even speak English...or if they speak it, they can't write it! However, that one gave me a little giggle)


Anyway, I made it to church and I was very happy that I did, and I'm sorry all the people who didn't bother to come didn't. Our Pastor Emeritus, Pastor Fabry, had the sermon, and much as I like to hear Pastor Boelter and Pastor Holzerland, there is a depth and contemplation to Pastor Fabry's sermons that I always enjoy when he speaks. His topic was "Singing Praise - Always", and he is right.


While I don't usually wrap up the year until New Year's Eve, this is a good time to consider all I have to be thankful for, and God's blessings to me are very great. First and foremost, of course, is that He has called me to believe in Him and in His Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior. I say, as I have before, that without the support God has given me, I would not be sitting here typing this.


In addition, I am truly blessed in my friends, both here and in Keweenaw. No one can be completely self-sufficient, and every time I begin to think that I am, something happens to show me that's just not so. I have wonderful friends, far better than I am a friend to them, and without them, I don't know what I would do. I have to count my furry friends, too, and while I still mourn DC's passing, I was truly blessed to share my life with him for eleven years. While Buster doesn't have the depth to his personality that DC did, it would be truly dark and cold without his little warm body wiggling close to mine. Many people I have known would have benefited from the example of my furry companions, with their unconditional love and trust.


I am extremely blessed that I can continue to live the lifestyle I want. I can live in my favorite place on earth for six months of the year and still maintain a home here in the city. i can afford to pursue my hobbies.  Since the summer of 2002, my health has been remarkably good. The 60-odd year old body won't ever be as strong as the 40-odd year old, but I can see progress toward becoming fully ambulatory once more. 


There's not much more that I can think of that I might want...unless it was enough money to buy up all the real estate in Keweenaw that's for sale. Since that evidently isn't my calling, I do what I can.


When I started building Rainbow's End, I wondered if that was what God really thought I should be doing, but now I know it was. When I needed the money for that project, it was there, and although the chances that I'll ever be able to spend like I did in those years is pretty slim, so far, at least, there is sufficient if I watch what I'm doing.


So I have a great deal to be thankful for. I've learned that nothing comes without a price, but if you have a dream that you really want to pursue, you can make it a reality. I've met - and read public postings by - people who were clearly horribly jealous of me and the things I have, but I have to ask those people, are you willing to trade what you have for my entire life as a package? Would you want to go through all the sickness I've had, and be a person almost completely without a blood family? I doubt it. I was built this way, but not many other people are. I'm grateful to God that he built me this way, because I can be content with what I have and not regret the things I never will have.


Well, I can report that the new batch of pasties is excellent, as witness my plate that looks almost like it had just come out of the dishwasher. The JD was excellent, too, and now all I have to decide is whether to have a second Fudgie Pastie or an orange or a Clementine (with which I am not terribly impressed, by the way). This is definitely going to be an early night, as I try to catch up on my sleep.


One possibility is that I was chilly last night, although it wasn't obvious. I am probably going to invest in new comforters, but I'd like to wait until the Company Store puts them on sale again. I also probably need a new pillow. Actually, I need a new mattress, too. My mattress in Copper Harbor is one of those fancy new ones with the thick, soft pad over a firm foundation, and I find coming back to my old bed like sleeping on the floor. However, I get used to it, and of course everything is better in Copper Harbor!


So that is Thanksgiving in the field in exile.


November 26

The sun shone today, most of the day here, and in the afternoon in Copper Harbor. Although it was quite cool in both places. The temperature got into the middle 30s in Copper Harbor, and probably a little above 40 here, but it certainly was nice to see the sunshine and clear skies. That's supposed to go away tonight in both places, and tomorrow it will, unfortunately, snow there and rain here. Not unusual for late November, I guess. I do seem to recall, some years ago, when there was an actual blizzard in the Detroit Metro area over the Thanksgiving weekend, so I suppose rain is better for the travelers.


I spent quite a lot of time embroidering for a change, and that felt good to me, but otherwise, except to pay a few bills and line up the next ones in order, I didn't do a lot. There is an awful mess in the kitchen, an awful mess in the living room, a middling mess in the front bedroom and the upstairs hall, and the sewing room and my bedroom aren't much worse than usual. Slowly I will get the living room cleaned out, and the kitchen will be better when I get the trash and recyclables collected for Saturday (I think - I've been away from here so long I forget what they do when there's a Thursday holiday).


Late in the afternoon some guys came by and sort of cleaned up the area of my grass where the cement was poured, but there is less grass than usual there. With two large trees, both of which have roots on the surface, in my front yard, I don't get enough sun to really grow grass. Of course, I've never been able to grow grass, except where it isn't supposed to be. I like grass, I guess, but it seems to me that it takes a lot of effort for what you get out of it.


That reminds me of the guy who built a house in Three Lakes in the UP, on an area with no trees at all. This happened quite a while ago, because the house was built before my Dad died. The owner must have been a bit nutty, because he put his half-acre front lawn in what looked to be bent grass, like they have in golf greens, and he must have watered, fertilized and sprayed the heck out of it, because while he was a live, it looked like a golf green. It's not quite so perfect since the house was sold. Here in the city, it would have been the envy of all the neighbors, except for the lack of trees, but in the middle of the central UP, it is totally out of place, especially in a little two-bit town like Three Lakes, with all the cottages and camps around it. We always shook our heads every time we drove by.


Not much went on here today, so I don't have much to report on. I've told Buster he's going to have to either learn to speak English or to modulate his meows, which all sound the same to me. I can't tell whether he's hungry or wants love or is upset, or what. Sometimes I think it's or what, but a lot of the time it's pet me, I'm here. He's still pretty upset, I think, and I imagine it will be a while before he settles down.


Me, too.


Oh, I picked up a phone message in Copper Harbor today, and it turned out that Charlie reset the computer the other morning. He can do it, because, as the webmaster of Pastynet, he can force down the telephone line, whereas I can't do that from here. Rebooting one more time seems to have fixed the camera, although I'm puzzled as to why the nightly power failure didn't do it. I'm fairly certain that the timer was set correctly and was working correctly. As I said yesterday, I'll probably never know what it was. I guess that's OK, so long as the camera stays running!


On the subject of Copper Harbor, I noticed that there is now less than 9 hours of daylight there - 9 hours, 54 minutes, to be exact. It's still going down. Here in Detroit, we get about 8 minutes more (whoopee!), but our days won't get quite so short here as theirs will in the next month. Still, for November through February, there's not a lot of daylight in these parts, even when it's sunny. The setting sun is shining in the south windows of the office in Copper Harbor and onto the white walls of the east end, which reflects onto the window where the camera is, so if you see strange shadows in the pictures when it's sunny there, that's the reason. There certainly were some today, including something which may be a nasty smear on the window. Sorry, but I'm a bit far away to wash the window. A week or so ago, the camera caught a bird hitting the window, and that may be where the smear came from. Fortunately, it's where the railing and the tree are, and not right in the middle of the best part of the picture.


The sun shone in the field today.


November 25

It was a quiet day both in the field and in the field in exile, and there wasn't a lot of difference between there and here, so far as temperature and wind were concerned. It was a bit colder there, but just a bit, and the wind was a bit stronger here, according to the records, although as I've said before the NWS station is not in a very good spot in Copper Harbor. When they say the wind is "variable", it may just be swirling around the building at the holding ponds. It was cloudy both places, and the temperature got into the middle 30s both places, a couple of degrees higher here.


The camera is back in service. It came up, down, again, and I don't know if somebody was at the house, or if it corrected itself, because it was also not updating very reliably before 7 am, but then it started running, and it's been fine ever since. I need to call Pastynet tomorrow anyway, so I will ask them (or more specifically, I will ask Charlie). Heaven knows what its problem was. I wish I was there to troubleshoot it, but I can almost guarantee that if I was there, whatever happened wouldn't have happened. I finally brought back to mind the phrase I've been trying to recall that fits the situation: the innate perversity of inanimate objects. You'll read it again.


I arose rather late and took my time, and I was just finishing stocking my pill containers when there was a knock at the door, and the window washers were here. wondering if it would be all right to wash my windows today rather than yesterday...as if. So now I have clean windows all over the house and the storm doors are on. For some reason, they left things in better order than they usually do, or I think they did. I will have to readjust the window shade in my bedroom, and I had to adjust the curtains in the bathroom, but overall it was a good job and all the whitewash streaks are gone.


Otherwise, I did not much. There were some more lovely messages in my email, for which I thank you all. I hope you understand why I have not replied to each of you individually, and you know that I appreciate your concern. I am not the only person who has lost a beloved furry companion, and I'm not the only Christian person who has to believe we will find all our furry friends waiting with our family and friends when we get to heaven. Just as I know my mother could not be completely happy, even in heaven, knowing what I have had to endure, I know she is watching over and taking care of all of my furry friends until I get there. I know we have no way of conceiving the joys of heaven, but I can't believe that God would take away the greatest joys we have here. So my vision is to live in a perfected Rainbow's End with my family and all my beloved kitties. That's a good start.


Buster just ran upstairs as if to say, "Oh, for gosh sakes, she's running off at the eyes again!"


Getting the stuff out of the living room is a slow process, because I keep forgetting, now that I have to load the wash baskets, that I'm supposed to do that every time I go upstairs. I haven't decided how to handle the books. Most of them are reference books that I want to have in the sewing room, but there really isn't any room for them - or anything else - in that room. Right now the cutting table is stacked so high I can't use it at all.


And that's a problem. I have decided that this is the year to try to make a couple more pairs of wool dress pants. I have a lovely black pair, but I would like to make the navy blue and camel ones I've had the material for for...oh, maybe 10 years.  While I can buy jeans that fit to my satisfaction, I haven't been able to find dress pants that fit the way I want them to. So, off we go to raid the stash and fire up the sewing machine...and find the pattern I used for the black ones, which still fit really well.


Then there are the boxes, and one of the magazines I was reading today gave me even more ideas...but I do want to do some beaded ornaments before Christmas. Well, no matter where I am, there's never enough time.


So another quiet day in the field in exile.


November 24

Oh-oh! When I logged on tonight, I discovered that instead of a picture, the camera had shown a green screen all day. That happens when there isn't a connection to the camera, or the camera is down...or something. I will try to check it earlier tomorrow, and get on the phone if it is still green. Just what I need. However, there wasn't as much snow in Copper Harbor as was predicted, so it's still possible to get to my house, and I have a couple of people I think I can call on to check on it. Darn. I wanted to see what it looked like today.


It was a dull, gray, cold and windy day here, and it was just about the same in Copper Harbor - temps around freezing or below, and strong (25-30  mph) west winds. Brr! If it stays that cold here, I will have to hurry up and wash the down parka, which got dirty on the trip home: I think I dragged it over the bumpers or something. If it gets that cold, I may just wear it dirty!


I slept in some, although not as much as Buster did, and took my time about getting around this morning, and eventually I set off for the Food Emporium, where it looked more like Friday night than Monday afternoon. I think I got pretty much everything I wanted except for moist towelettes for the car, and they were having a special on the brand of butter I used, so I got some to fill the freezer. 


There is something different about the humidity or something here, and it felt a lot colder and rawer than it does in Copper Harbor at the same temperature and wind speed. Although I don't expect it's exactly balmy in Copper Harbor tonight, with a temperature of 28 and a west wind of 29 mph, gusting to 38 mph! Wow! When that west wind sweeps in off the big lake, oh, my does it get cold!


This afternoon I cooked - beef country ribs and mashed potatoes, and the beets, which I should have done before I left. I just ran upstairs to turn off the burner and skin the beets. I will slice them tomorrow. Anyway, it was a good dinner for a cold night, and I plan to get to bed a bit earlier tonight.


Since it was raining or drizzling this morning and there were possibly some snow flurries this afternoon, I didn't get my windows washed. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be outside washing windows today, and since they wash the double hung windows from the inside, I was just as glad they weren't here opening windows today. This is the only problem with coming back to Detroit so late in the year: some home maintenance that should be done is harder to get done. The window washers can't work in this weather (and yes, I do need my windows washed twice a year here), and the furnace man is probably overloaded with people who have no heat.


One nice thing: they removed the barricade across my driveway this morning, so I was able to pull into my driveway, store the car in the garage and unload my groceries through the kitchen door. So now that is back to normal. The city still has some work to do on the grass (so-called!) around the new pavement, but at least I have my new cement. Several people around here have holes in front of their houses where the old cement was taken out, but the new hasn't been laid...and I would guess there's a good chance of it not happening for some time. You can't pour cement when it's below freezing, I would guess.


Well, Buster has either been sleeping or wanting to sit on me, as he is now. I guess he is coming around to the idea that it's just us now, and I don't think he likes it. He is certainly skittish and nervous, and he has been very vocal for a couple of days. He is using his little-cat voice, the one that almost made me name him squeak when he was a kitten, but he certainly has been sounding off. Poor Buster. Things like what just happened to us are quite beyond him.


I have gotten more lovely emails, including the beautiful little work called "The Rainbow Bridge" from two people.  I know that my pastor says animals don't have souls, but after knowing someone like DC I find that hard to believe. I do believe that heaven wouldn't be complete without Twinkle and Dennis and Silkie and DC, for sure, and probably Sable and her four children and BC and Norris, who were my mother's, and Terry the orphan to whom I gave the two best years of his life. And before I pass on I'm sure there will be more names on the list.


Anyway, I thank you all. I'm sorry you couldn't have known DC as I knew him, because he was a truly exceptional person. He felt his responsibility as my guardian acutely, and he understood more of what I said, and could reply to it, better than any other cat I've known. He even had a few words of English he could say quite clearly and in the appropriate circumstances.


Anyway, life goes on. You may be interested to know I've been dreaming about Copper Harbor already. and about being back in the house there. I haven't nailed down my moving date yet, although it will probably be around May 7, which is Mother's Day weekend again. It depends mostly upon when the snow melts enough to open the road.


Winter has come to both the field and the field in exile.


November 23

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you who have emailed me in the past day or two. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to know that so many of the people who read this strange thing have had the same experience I am now going through. As my vet said, they never live long enough, and they have become so much part of our lives that losing them is a real blow.


I can almost believe that DC was a furry guardian angel who was sent to me to guard my sanity through some very difficult times: the loss of my mother (and incidentally the loss of my beloved calico cat, Silkie), during which my boss was trying to pressure me into resigning, and my illnesses and all the chemo. He was always there for me, with a warm body and a wonderful, deep bass purr, and unconditional love and support. Humans could learn a lot from our companion animals. There aren't many people who are big enough to give like he gave. I also believe, or maybe I want to hope, that things will be better for a while now, and he could turn my support over to someone not quite so strong and wise.


Buster and I need some time to get used to the changed situation and grow more together. He is certainly one of the most affectionate cats I've ever known, and we'll just have to work out things between us. I need time to get completely into his mind, and he into mine, and then it will be all right. With DC around, it wasn't possible to do that.


It was nice to go to church this morning, and when I went up to communion, Pastor Boelter grinned at me, but this was Loyalty Sunday (which I hate) and also there were congregation meetings (which I also hate), so it was a rather mixed up morning. We sang, and while Bruce seemed pleased, I thought the sopranos sounded rather squeaky.


I know I'm squeaky. Six months of not singing at all has to tell on one's voice, especially an old one. I hope I can get back in shape fast enough.


It was a warm, cloudy day here today, with temperatures in the middle 6os, but it got very dark very early this afternoon. Overnight, the temperature is supposed to drop precipitously, into the 30s, with high winds and rain turning to snow. Yuck.


In Copper Harbor, it's still snowing. There was a clearing period during the day, when I think it was raining or drizzling in Houghton (also Yuck!), but late in the afternoon, the snow started again, and it hasn't been possible to see the lights of the Harbor since it got dark. The snow is supposed to go on for the next day or two, although it may not get as deep as was originally predicted. The temperature was just over freezing today, but it's supposed to go down into the low 20s tonight and not get much warmer for a while.


I think winter is upon us, although it's not in southern Michigan yet. Here, it's still late autumn, with 40-ish temperatures and rain. I think I'd rather have snow.


The car is still out front. I decided not to move the barricade. They should take it away tomorrow, then I can move the car into the garage. Actually, a little more rain on it wouldn't hurt. It got really filthy at the end of the fall and during the trip home. The back is covered with black guck, and there is a nice coating of mud behind the back wheels. As soon as it clears up again, I will take it to the car wash and try to get it cleaned up a bit. I do think all the salt from a couple of weeks ago has been washed off, but since I'm not up in the northwoods anymore, I want to get rid of the mud. I've seen cars on the road which are dirtier, but I don't think it's necessary to drive a pigpen for people to know I live there. The red mud in the wheel wells should show that.


I moved a few more things upstairs and turned a couple of the big boxes upside down, but otherwise, I didn't do much today. I sat in bed and knitted for quite a while, which delighted Buster no end, except that both my hands were busy at other things most of the time. I had misplaced the sock I was working on, and I found that, so that's taken care of.


I guess I've forgotten to mention that there is only 9 hours of daylight in Copper Harbor, and 9 hours here. That's not very much, and it will get worse before it gets better. We have another month before the equinox. And when it's cloudy, which is the usual state at this time of year, it begins to get dark around 3:30 in the afternoon.


It did amuse me that just after I raised the thermostat, it warmed up, but it was much more comfortable around here last night and today. I don't want to waste energy, but at the same time, I don't feel the need to freeze myself just to try (unsuccessfully, of course) to keep the utility bills down.


Tomorrow I will have to visit the Food Emporium, because I need carrots for my bean soup, and I have some nice beef country ribs, but no red wine. Kroger's has downsized their deli counters significantly, also, so I guess when I want deli items I'll have to go someplace else. I guess that must be what everybody else is doing, too. Oh - and it just occurred to me that just maybe, because it's a holiday week, I'll be able to get a shrimp ring and pig out on shrimp cocktail. Yum!


So that is how things are around here. All the kind emails left me in tears more than once, and I thank everyone. We'll go on, and while we'll never get over it, we'll be able to cope better as time passes.


It's snowing in the field, and it's sort of dark and depressed in the field in exile.


November 22

At just about 10 pm last evening, DC went into respiratory failure, apparently triggered by me entering the bathroom, and in about three minutes, he was dead. Dear, sweet D! Wise, gentle, faithful friend, how I will miss you! You saw me through some of the most difficult days of my life, and all I could do for you was give you a few hours to sleep in one of your favorite spots, and be sure the last voice you heard and the last hand you felt were mine.


So many people have emailed me, it's been hard to keep the tears from preventing me from seeing the screen, and I thank everyone for your concern. You who have shared your lives with companion animals know the joy they bring and the grief they bring when they leave us.


Buster, who is now sitting on my lap as I type, is just beginning to realize that his Uncle D is gone forever, and I'm not sure if he is trying to console me, or I am trying to console him. Buster was a seven-week-old live wire when he came to us, and DC raised him and, as  much as anyone could, taught him his business. I'm sure Buster expected D to be around forever, just as I'd hoped I'd have him for more than 11 years.


But not to be, and now it's just Buster and me, trying to get over it together. It will be interesting to see how it develops.


I took the body to the vet early this morning, and I do appreciate Dr. Rock. She had actually called the lab to try to stop all the tests we had ordered. The blood work was already done, but she did stop the other test, which saved me around $100, and I appreciated it. The blood work showed that while there was no infection, all the rest of his organs - especially kidneys and pancreas - were failing, so even yesterday he was clearly in terminal condition, even without the lack of lung capacity. So his last kind act was to not make it necessary for me to make the decision to put him to sleep. Hard as it was to watch him die, it is much harder to be the one responsible for deciding a pet has lived long enough.


While it wasn't as sunny as it was yesterday here, it was a lovely late autumn day on Champine, with temperatures in the low 50s and not much wind. I got the remote thermometers hung outside where I want them, so I can now keep track of temperatures from the display on my kitchen table. One is hanging from a shepherd's crook on the patio, and the other is in one of the spruces halfway back in the yard. Both are far enough from the house that the radiation from the brick shouldn't be a problem.


The barricade is still across the end of my driveway, but if they don't take it away by tomorrow evening, I will. I really am not comfortable with my rather large vehicle parked on a city street. Even though Champine is only one block long, too many people use it as a shortcut and speed down it. Besides, I have always held the belief that garages are to store cars, and I want mine in it. The driveway approach looks like it will be delightful - it's enough wider that fewer people will drive over the edges, and the slope is enough better that puddles of ice aren't likely to form in it.


Maybe the reason I don't like puddles of ice in driveway approaches is that when I was 12 years old, I ran my bicycle over one that was covered with newly fallen snow, slipped, and tore ligaments in my right ankle. Ever since, I've been especially wary of ice covered by snow, especially when walking or biking.


I got a few more things moved upstairs (not much), and I got the sewing machine unpacked and in position, but otherwise, I didn't do much, and I didn't feel like doing much. Since I'm not having an open house next week, it really doesn't matter how long it takes me to get everything moved upstairs, and I really would like to dispose of the clothes that are already there before I move more. Oh, yes, I did move the litter tray back to the basement and get a couple of wash baskets up to the living room to use to  take all the stuff from the boxes up. I have till next Friday to empty the boxes and get them out for the trash pickup. Getting back into the trash pickup and recycling mode will be hard.


In Copper Harbor, the temperatures were in the low 30s with a light east wind and cloudy skies most of the day, but there was dampness on the deck, and by the 3:30 picture, it was snowing hard enough that town was invisible and there was a dusting of snow on the deck.  The pictures since darkness fell have not even shown the lights of town, so it's snowing briskly. One part of me wishes I could be there to see and experience what sounds to be a real dumping of snow, but on the other hand, I do have a dread of being snowed in without the means to move that much snow. The pictures from tomorrow and Monday should be interesting.


Well, I'm getting hungry, and after that I think I will adjust the thermostat and go to bed. It's cold around here, below 68, which I think I'm entitled to. I didn't sleep very well last night, despite a lot of JD, so I am tired, and I have to be at church at 10:15 tomorrow.


It's a sad day in the field in exile.


November 21

It was a rather difficult day for me today, and tomorrow is likely to be worse. When I went upstairs last evening, it was clear that DC was in distress, but he was behind the chair in the living room, in front of a register. When I went to bed I didn't know if I would find him alive or dead this morning. 


As it happened, he seemed to rally a bit, and came into the kitchen, drank some water and even licked a little gravy off the food I offered. I brought a pan upstairs, but he went down into the basement cupboard.


I had decided to take him to the vet this morning, so I called as soon as they were open. The appointment gave me time to have a muffin and some coffee, but then when I tried to get the cat out of the cupboard, we had a real problem. When I started after him, he was on the lower shelf, and then I lost him. I could hear him purring, but I couldn't see him, so I actually got down on my knees to look into the cupboard (it is an old kitchen cupboard with no back). I found him on the upper shelf, but then I had to somehow get myself off the floor. I must say I've made some progress, because this time last year, I couldn't have done it, but I managed, and I grabbed the cat and headed upstairs, with him fighting all the way.


It must have exhausted him, because by the time we got to see the doctor, he was panting through his mouth, which I have not seen before, and the doctor, a nice young woman who is probably just out of school, agreed with me that he is a very sick kitty. I left him, so that they could do x-rays and blood tests and things, and she was very good about keeping me updated.


He has a large mass of some sort in his lungs, which is why he has been breathing so hard. It could be cancer, it could be fluid caused by heart failure, it could be an infection. They drew some of the fluid (they couldn't get much out before he started fighting, just like DC), and they couldn't see any cancer cells, but they're not real experts in that sort of thing. So they have sent the fluid and the blood they drew off to the lab to be examined. It probably is cancer, but I want to be absolutely sure it isn't something treatable.


He is home now. There is no one there overnight, and the other option was to transfer him to the emergency clinic, but I decided he would probably not rest either place, where he might at home. He is in the bathroom, with a tray, water, and a little food. When I let him out of the carrier, he tried to get out of the bathroom - I don't know where he wanted to run to, but I wasn't going to let him - but I put him on his rug under the register, and he seemed to be sleeping when I left him.


I discovered, when I closed the bathroom door, that, like 99% of the other interior doors in this house, it doesn't latch, so there is now a piece of heavy string between the bathroom door and the stair rail in the upper hall, keeping the door shut. It might not be necessary, but DC is very good with his toes, very smart, and I don't trust him not to try to get out.


Probably this is his last night. While I want to be sure he is not treatable, I don't want him to suffer any more than he has already, either. It's just like I expect Debbie to pull the plug on the respirator when there's nothing more that can be done for me. I will miss him horribly, because he has seen me through some of the most trying times of my life, but this is the best I can do for him.


Buster is extremely upset, too, of course, because I don't think he really understands what is going on. All he knows is that his Uncle D wasn't himself, wasn't here today, and now is shut up in a room where he can't go. As he has been for quite a while, he has been clinging to me all day long, but he doesn't really want to be petted, he just wants to be with me, or preferably, on me.


I'm sorry to go on at such length, but DC has been a big part of my life for 11 of the worst years, and it hurts to let him go.


I wish I had had nicer things to do today, because it was a beautiful one here, mostly clear with temperatures in the mid 50s, although it is dropping off now, and it would have been nice to be outside. All the barricades except the one over the end of the driveway (keeping me out) are gone, and the boxes were delivered and are partly unpacked all over the middle of the living room. I don't really want to take any more of the stuff upstairs until I dispose of what's there, so I can assimilate it rather than have to wade through piles.


It was a pretty day in Copper Harbor, too, with quite a lot of sunshine in the middle of the day, although the official temperature was in mid 30s all day with a northwest wind of some speed. The temperature has been falling steadily since yesterday, and apparently the wind is actually quite gusty. They are under a winter storm watch for Sunday and Monday, and John Dee is pretty sure they will get it, and it should continue to snow periodically all week. So I guess I got out at the right time.


And how I wish I were there, although not with a sick cat, and it will never be quite the same without a big, rangy white cat either sleeping in the ugly chair or on the desk in the sun. Ah, me.


It's a sad night in the field in exile.


November 20

I forgot to mention that now that we aren't in the field anymore, there will usually not be journals on Wednesday. That is choir practice night, and in Advent, there is church, too, so I get back late and usually go right upstairs. 


On that subject, I am still mulling over an idea I had last spring, of moving the computer into my sewing room upstairs. It would be much nicer, but I keep reminding myself that the treadmill is in the basement, and if the computer isn't there to play music on, the chances of my ever using it are more diminished.


I was awakened yesterday morning to the sound of jackhammers before 8 am, and by the time I kicked myself out of bed, the driveway approach was gone and they were breaking up the sidewalk. I was watching as they dug out for the new approach, and I was a little concerned, because they put the forms in without widening it the entire twelve inches I'd wanted, but sometime while I was otherwise engaged, the boss must have come by, because before they poured the concrete, they had redone it right.


In due time, I left, to go grocery shopping, just for "a few things I needed" - ha! I came home with $200 worth of groceries in the back of the truck - nothing I didn't need - and then was faced with the task of hauling them in from the front curb. What a pain!


However, when I returned, they were doing the final smoothing of my new approach and sidewalk, and despite a leaf or two that fell, it is beautiful, and it will be much easier to get in, whenever that is.


The only casualty of having to haul everything in the front door was that the packer had put my eggs at the bottom of a bag of bread and crackers, and I didn't realize where they were until today. I'm hoping they will still be all right, but I guess I'll be eating well-cooked eggs for a while. Otherwise, the packer did things very well, but sometimes I wonder...


So with the fridge packed full of good things to eat, I had a frozen dinner last night. Frankly, I was too tired to cook and go to choir, and choir was more important.


Apparently the annual fall cold season has set in here, because a lot of people were absent, and some who were there were sick. However, it felt good to be back and singing again. I actually only raised my voice twice over the summer - once when Randall Thomson's "Alleluia" came on a couple of weeks ago, and once when the so-called "Christian" (not!) station played a sort of new hymn-type thing that I like after I got here. So, while the "Alleluia" told me I still have the notes, my voice is rather creaky and I was pretty hoarse at the end. The folders are full of all the Advent and Christmas music, and a lot of it is wonderful, but there is one piece I was most disappointed to see...I'll wait a while to talk about that!


When I came home, DC was up in the bathroom, and he acted like he was terrified. I just do not know what has gotten into his little mind. Usually he is so steady and calm. He had eaten a few mouthfuls of dinner, so I tried to let him know I love him and otherwise I left him alone. Oh, dear.


I dropped into bed at around 10pm, and I slept with few interruptions until after 9am. Slowly I am catching up on my sleep!


Again, DC came and asked for his breakfast, very grumpy, and ate a few mouthfuls - not much. Buster is either not eating anything or he's nibbling at the dry food, but I haven't caught him at it yet. However, he acts like he is just delighted to be here - and to have me mostly to himself, by the way. How much easier things would be without cats! But on the other hand, how lonely!


DC spent most of the day behind the bathroom door, but late in the day he went away again, and I haven't located him. He didn't come for dinner.


Oh, yes, and when I left last evening, apparently the paving company boss had been around again and had pounded stakes in the ground and surrounded both my approach and the sidewalk with red tape. I guess he wants to make absolutely certain nobody walks on it again! Not that I blame him. He is having to eat about $200 for the two squares that were ruined. So I guess I will be parking out front until somebody takes the barricades away. He said Saturday, but we'll see.


I took my time about things today, but there are now four blue boxes upstairs, and I unloaded the suitcases and put them away. Some of the stuff is just on the bed in the front room, but I did get my underwear put away. The boxes that were shipped are probably going to be delivered tomorrow. I wish I could get them myself, but there is simply no way I could get them into the house. I don't have a good hand truck here, and my sliding boards were meant to be used between the car and the kitchen door. 


I did talk to the owner of the Packaging Store about using smaller boxes next year. She seems to think more smaller boxes that are lighter would probably not cost much, if any, more to ship.  I hope eventually I can get that straightened out so I don't ship so much. 


Someone suggested I should have a trailer, and I've thought about it, particularly after I discovered how much it costs to ship the stuff, but I've never pulled a trailer, so it would take some getting used to, and I'm not sure I could make the kind of time I do now (although I've seen guys pulling pretty large trailers going faster than I do on the freeway). Oh, yeah, and what would I do with it when I'm here? A trailer would fit easily into the garage in Copper Harbor, but not here, and there is an ordinance in the city against leaving things like that in a driveway. So we'll see. Eventually it would be nice to get things sorted out so that I didn't have to ship anything, but I don't have much hope of that.


Tonight I cooked, one of my chicken dishes, and it tasted good, although I haven't been much more hungry than the cats. Yesterday, my breakfast consisted of an English Muffin with peanut butter, although I got a sandwich at the grocery store. This morning, I had the muffin and a small bowl of hot cereal, which I haven't eaten in five years or more. Breakfast, which was the only meal I could really relish when I was sick, has turned into a real trial for me.  I had been eating cheese omelets or ham and cheese omelets, but that's quite a bit of rich food, and Tuesday morning, I tried one, and couldn't eat all of it (and yesterday's muffin was left over from the day before). It would be good for my cholesterol if I didn't eat so many eggs, but I'll just have to see what happens. I may get hungrier as I recover from my exertions.


After my lovely kitchen in Copper Harbor, it's something of a trial to get used to this kitchen again. The two are actually quite similar, but the appliances thee are so nice and I tweaked the design just enough that I like it a lot better. Oh, well. Next year...


Oh, the weather. It was cloudy in Copper Harbor for most of the day, but the temperature got into the low 50s.  Yesterday was about the same. I guess it's supposed to cloud up and cool off,  and it may rain or snow or something through the weekend.  Here, The temperature got into the upper 50s and today was sunny and lovely. It's supposed to cloud up tomorrow, but it will still be relatively warm. My favorite temperature range is from about 53 to 75 (if the humidity is within bounds), so I've been pretty happy. The reports, by the way, said it was clear in Houghton, so I have to believe the clouds in Copper Harbor were caused by the lake, and that is a common phenomenon between September and June.


So that is all I know tonight. I am still seriously concerned about DC, but I am watching him, and he may very well get hauled off to his doctor next week...which will no doubt confirm his worst fears. I wish I could get inside his little furry head!


We're settling in at the field in exile.


November 18

Wow! What a couple of days! I'm still recovering, and it may take a while. In order.


I got to bed before 11 pm, and thanks to a lot of JD and a sleeping pill, I slept well. I think I only woke up twice, and when I woke up at about 7:20, I felt it was time to get up and attem. The kitties helped me along by coming into the bathroom, and I shut the door on them, although when I came in with food, Buster bolted out. However, I'd also shut the bedroom door, and while he was mulling that over, I grabbed him and stuffed him back in the bathroom. DC ate, but I don't think Buster did.


Even though I had packed just about everything Sunday night, it took me a while to get ready. I just can't move very fast any more.  Getting the cats into the carrier wasn't too much of a problem, but getting them out and into the cage in the car was a real trip. DC just did not want to get into that cage!


I had helped the situation along by setting the thermostats in the office and the great room down Sunday night, but I still had to reprogram the ones in the bedroom and bathroom - while I love my radiant heat with its multiple zones, reprogramming them is time consuming.


Part of my problem in getting ready to leave was that I was really hurting. My back was (and still is) killing me, and both knees hurt, all of which meant I was moving very slowly.


Anyway, we pulled out of the garage at about 9:30, which is pretty good, I think. If I'd gotten up earlier, we'd have started earlier. Oh, well.


It didn't help that the sun started to come out just as we left. It was hazy, and there was fog, and the temperature was in the middle 40s. However, I couldn't stay forever, and considering the weather here today, I was just as glad we went yesterday.


We had not quite reached US-41 when DC barfed seriously. I was quite surprised, because previously, it's been Buster who was freaked out. I couldn't stop then, so we went on. I think he did it again later, too, but more about that later.


Traffic was great, and we made very good time through the UP. The only problem is the lack of rest stops, and I thought I was doing really well, but when I stopped at the Seney Stretch, it became clear that I had waited much too long to stop, and I had wet pants for the rest of the trip. My attempt to keep my jeans from getting wet had just not worked, much to my disappointment.


When we stopped, I surveyed the damage to the blankets in the cage and tried to turn the worst one upside down, but there were a couple I couldn't reach. DC was still very upset, by that time, I think, because he knew he had made such a mess. So we went on, as quickly as we could. At least covering the cage kept the worst of the problems at bay.


Strangely, this time, I ran into far more traffic from Birch Run through Flint than I have before at that time of night. Maybe it's because it was dark, but it was pretty grim until I got south of Flint, which was between 5 and 6:30 or so.


On the way, we passed not more than a dozen deer on cars, and one Christmas tree. All of the deer were very small, and the only one whose antlers I saw was a spike horn. There may have been more after it got dark, which was very early, because it was as cloudy in the lower-lower as it had been in the UP on Sunday. There was also very little snow, just a few patches on the north side of things. Since the temperature was in the upper 40s all the way, it wasn't surprising. 


It was very foggy around West Branch, but that seemed to be a local thing, and it cleared up as we got south of there.


The Moross Road interchange is still screwed up, but it appears that at least they've gotten the westbound side of the overpass done, and it is possible to get onto I-94 there again. Eastbound...well, it's a mess.


I had toyed with the idea of stopping for gas, but I wanted to get the kitties out of the car as soon as possible, and it looked like I still had an eighth of a tank of gas or so, so I went straight to Champine...to discover a barricade across my driveway and two new squares of sidewalk. Egad!


My neighbors were home, however, so I managed, somehow, to get to their front door, to ask when the cement had been poured...and it turned out, it was at about 3pm in the afternoon. No way was I going to be able to drive over that without ruining it, so I asked for their help.


While we were moving things, Charlotte came out to walk the dog, and she was the one who pointed out to me that someone with an animal had walked through the two squares of concrete not long after it was laid. I wasn't surprised, because while they had put a barricade in the driveway parallel to the sidewalk, they hadn't put one across the sidewalk, and anyone walking after it began to get dark wouldn't know the cement was wet (although I would have noticed the one barricade, but most people probably wouldn't have) until they walked through it. It turns out that I accidentally walked through it myself, and you can see a slight imprint of my shoes, but that was after it was already ruined.


I owe Phil and Philip (his 13-year-old son) a real debt. They hauled most of the stuff into the house, including the cat cage, and saved my life. I just don't know what I would have done without them. Even so, by the time everything was inside, I was just totally exhausted and so sore I could hardly move. I opened the cage and both cats bolted. For quite a while, DC sat in front of the register in the hall, so I imagine he was cold, and then he went upstairs behind the bathroom door, which is his spot.


I could hardly move, but I managed to down a double JD and a Stouffer's dinner - not very good - before I took the few things I needed for the night and headed upstairs. Wow, was I tired!  DC was lying behind the door, but he was also drinking water about every ten minutes...I know how he felt. I was dehydrated myself. I bathed - my, but I miss my lovely stall shower! - and crashed.


I slept, with one interruption, until about 2 am, by which time DC had disappeared. For some reason, not related to the cat, I couldn't get back to sleep until after 5 am. I think, in part, it was because I was cold. The summer quilt here is very thin, and I had brought a summer nightie in with me, and the night temperature was set too low. When the heat started to come up, I went to sleep and slept until about 9:30, when Buster came and looked at me, but I was still exhausted.


I had to make several telephone calls, including one to the city about the prints in the sidewalk, so my breakfast was prolonged (and I was so tired that I couldn't eat all of it). I do think, even though I've heard the excuses from both the city and the contractor, that since I got the message about fixing the sidewalk before I left in May, it should have been done long ago. It was just the end of a lousy day that they didn't do it until the day I got home.


And actually, from one point of view, it may be a good thing. My driveway approach has a crack right across it where a big puddle forms and freezes in the winter, making getting up my driveway interesting. The approach is also so narrow that nobody, including me, seems to be able to turn in or out without rolling over the grass occasionally. So I got the name of the contractor and called him, and since he had to come to inspect the sidewalk anyway, he gave me a quote on replacing the approach, which I accepted. It will all be torn up and redone tomorrow, weather permitting. It won't be cheap, but I don't think I could get anybody else to do it cheaper, since he was the low bidder to the city. He is a nice guy, too, and said flat out that his guys had goofed by not setting a second barricade, so replacing the sidewalk was his responsibility. Amazing to find somebody that honest these days.


There was no cement work today, because although the temperature was in the 50s here, it rained most of the night and drizzled on and off all day. Tomorrow is supposed to be better.


I also had to call the post office and announce that I'm HERE, and my forwarding order expired Saturday, please. 


And I had to talk to the packaging store, because I can't handle the boxes, with the car parked in front of the house. That turned out to be an interesting conversation, because when they weighed the boxes, one box weighed 74 lb, and another weighed 59 lb. I just must get my shipping to and from under control! I stopped by later and paid them, and the 74 lb. box had split a bit, although not enough that anything had fallen out. Maybe more, smaller boxes would be better. I'll have to talk to them next year, and maybe, just maybe I can get things more under control. We'll see.


I had to go out to get gas and stamps and mail a check, but the cool dampness has left me so horribly stiff and sore that I decided to postpone the grocery store until tomorrow. It's supposed to be partly sunny and, I hope, less humid, tomorrow.


Oh, yes, DC. When I couldn't find him this morning, I went hunting, and found him in a cupboard full of towels in the basement. He came out and got in a tray while I was there, but he crawled right back inside and wouldn't come upstairs. I put down some dry food for Buster, so I didn't worry too much about him.  Before I went out, I folded up the cat cage and took it out...and while I was sitting down and resting from that exertion, DC came upstairs. Wow! He would just not come into the kitchen so long as the cage was there! He wouldn't eat or drink - in fact, when I showed him the water, he began to gag again, so I will have to watch him, but shortly he went back upstairs. I haven't been there, but I imagine he's behind the bathroom door again.


Poor D! Until now, he's been the laid-back one, but he's been feeling poorly this summer, and all that left him totally freaked out by our move back. He needs to go to his doctor, but unless he doesn't start eating in a day or so, I want him to relax and recoup a bit first. 


Buster has been incredibly loving and clingy, and I think he's just saying, "Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!" I think he spent the better part of last night going from window to window looking out on his favorite views. I know he spent a long time looking out the bedroom window, at least twice.


Poor kitties! I can't leave them here when I'm gone, but the trip is just so traumatic for them. I will have to talk to their doctor again, and see if there isn't something I can do to settle them down.


When I got back here this afternoon and brought the last stuff in from the car, I grabbed the laptop and headed downstairs. First, I installed the new security package on the desktop...and it took about five reboots before it settled down and behaved itself. In the meantime, I did a bit of reading and determined what to do so I wouldn't have to disable the security when I use Laplink to transfer files.


Then I fired up Laplink, and part way through the transfer, the USB port apparently failed. So I rebooted and after several dread blue screens on both computers, I tried the transfer again...and again, the USB port failed after five minutes or so. Aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!


It was getting late, and I wanted to hear at least part of All Things Considered and do this journal, so I gave up and used the old fashioned parallel cable to do the transfer. That is stable, but fairly slow, and all that was left to transfer, unfortunately, were the late summer's Nikon pictures, which come in at over a megabyte a piece. It took at least twice as long as using the USB cable would have, but it worked.


In the middle of that, it looked like Disc Scan on the laptop was going into a loop, so I was contemplating a thorough scan, but when I tried it again, it worked fine, so who knows what happened. I still have to play around with Laplink, but not tonight, please.


While I was doing that, eating (after almost burning) pea soup, and starting the journal, I was washing the blankets from the cage, so that will all be done. Whew!


So we're here. We got here in one piece, and the disasters will pass. It's noisy and bright at night and it stinks, and I am allergic to this house, so I hacked and coughed and blew all night long, but we're here, and we're on the winter regime. I found the only thing I thought I'd forgotten. I was so exhausted this morning that I couldn't even count well enough to embroider.


Fortunately, it wasn't very nice in Copper Harbor, either, 40ish and very dreary again today. But oh, how I wish I were there, with only the sound of the lake and the wind to break the stillness! Oh, well. Spring will come.


Of course, this house is now a disaster, with all the stuff from the car strewn all over. The rule in force now is, I don't go upstairs without carrying something along, which means, one step at a time, lifting whatever it is one or two steps at a time. So far, I've only been to the second story once, but as soon as I finish this and get it uploaded (blessed DSL! At least that still seems to be working!), I will go up, switch quilts on the bed and dig out a flannel nightie, then it's off to dreamland. I suspect the cement guys will be here early tomorrow, which will undoubtedly be noisy enough to wake me up early.


I miss the field acutely.


November 16

This will be short, so I can get started doing my backups to the laptop.


I guess we're going. The food isn't packed yet, and I keep finding odds and ends that I'm not sure where I'll put, so it may be sort of a late night (it's 6 pm now). I started out all right, but it seemed every trip to the car took longer, and when I finished doing the cat pans, I was nearly done in. I'm still not in that good shape, and I kept having to sit down for a few minutes between trips, and for more than a few minutes when I did the cat pans.


Thankfully, it wasn't another beautiful day. It was cloudy and 40-ish with almost no wind at all, so it wasn't bad working in the garage with the door open. If it had been sunny, I'm not sure what I would have done.


It didn't help that I didn't sleep very well last night, quite a bit of JD notwithstanding. I was up every hour from 2 am, and I finally decided I might as well get up at 8:30, although I fiddled around for a while before I had my breakfast. Then there were a couple of loads of wash - the bathmat had gotten so stained from being wet that I just decided to wash all the towels and some pot holders as well, and I decided to wash the dirty underwear so as to make the laundry bag as small as possible.


The shutters had to be pulled down over the screen porch, and I had to fiddle with one of the locks, I had to gather up stuff from the bedroom, bathroom and office. 


Fitting everything into the car is like a jigsaw puzzle, but I did manage to get all six blue boxes as well as two crates, the cooler, two suitcases that are more full than I thought, three craft totes and a Rubbermaid barrel full of project cases. Whew! There are a few things left over, and it's a good thing I don't have a passenger, because there wouldn't be anyplace for them to sit. Once the cats are in and the sewing machine is in place, I'll be able to put something on  top of that, then it's just stuff, stuff, stuff.


Buster is sitting on my lap looking miserable, and I'm getting hungry, but I don't want to eat until everything is pretty much packed away. So that's how it is. We are about to leave the lovely field.


More weepin' and a-wailin' in the cloudy field tonight.


November 15

It was another fantastic day in the field, although it clouded up in the afternoon. It was still bright and lovely, with temps in the mid 40s and practically no wind. The little birds took full advantage, with flocks of chickadees and goldfinches raiding the feeder all day long. I wish I had had more time to watch them, but the camera did catch one bird this morning, better than any picture so far. They ate almost half the seed out of the feeder!


I got a late start, as usual, and, as usual, I had to sit down frequently, because my back was bothering me, not to mention my knees. However, I did get something done. The kitchen is as clean as it will be: I decided to forgo the floor. The fridge has been cleaned out - and cleaned! - and I stuck a lot of crackers in the freezer. The bathroom is clean, except to sweep up the floor with the Swiffer. My suitcases are pretty much packed, including all the pill bottles and extra bathroom-type stuff. I have determined that the cooler will go in the middle of the back of the truck, so there is an off-chance I may actually be able to take six blue boxes! That would certainly help with all the odds and ends in the office. 


Tomorrow will be a busy day, but I think I can probably make it. Whether there is a journal or not before I copy the files to the laptop is iffy - but maybe.


I had a last dinner at Mariner, and drank too much, and I expect to be in bed really early, but before I go, I will at least get the cat food packed in grocery bags. So we're making progress.


I had decided what I was going to wear Monday, but then I checked the weather, and I would have been dressed far too warmly, so I will change that.


My work has been hindered because whenever I sit down, there is a cat on my lap. Usually it's Buster, but right now it's DC, and he seems inclined to stay.


I was certainly glad, as I said yesterday, that I'm still here. It was a real delight to have another beautiful day! I guess it's supposed to be cloudy tomorrow and Monday, but it will still be quite warm, so I'll get to enjoy.


We're getting there


There is weepin' and a-wailin' in the field tonight!


November 14

What a beautiful day! How glad I am that I was here to enjoy it! Actually, during the middle of the day, some clouds rolled in, and I thought, oh, well, but by 2:30 they were gone, and the rest of the afternoon was pristinely clear with a temperature in the low 40s, probably. The thermometer in the feeder tree got up to 50 or so, but that was probably when it was in the sun. The wind was light, from the northwest, and altogether it was just lovely.


I managed to get to bed late last night, so I got up late, and for various reasons, I didn't get much done...you've heard that before, I think. 


This was only partly my fault, I think. i started cleaning the kitchen counters and the stove rather late, and shortly I notice that the hot water wasn't very hot. I also noticed that the boiler hadn't run all day long, which is very unusual, especially when I'm running hot water. So...at 5pm I'm calling the plumber who did the installation, and running (well, walking slowly) up and down the stairs checking things out. Eventually he came, and spent ten minutes or so changing a valve (whose name totally escapes me at the moment), and I think it's all right now. The alternative was to set the heat in the basement up to some high temperature, so hot water would run through the heating coils in the tank, and I really didn't like that solution, nor was I interested in leaving it broken until I get back in the spring. Things that should work should work. It cost me, but I think it's fixed. I'll find out when I take my bath. 


I still think I have enough time to get ready to leave on Monday, but the next two days, I simply will not be able to dawdle over the computer or the knitting. 


The nice thing about the sun and the temperature is that all the ice is gone off the deck. Getting the bird feeder in and out yesterday was interesting, but most of it was gone when I put the feeder out this morning, and it's all gone now.


So there's not much news from the field. The east half of the kitchen is clean, and at least I swept up the floor, although in emptying the popcorn out of a nice heavy box, I spilled popcorn all over under the dining table (the card table), so now I have to sweep that, too.


It's quiet and beautifully clear in the field tonight, and I'm glad I'm still here.


November 13

Well! What a difference a couple of days can make!  I was in the process of taking another box out to the car last night when - boom - no power. And no power for the next six hours. When I realized it was going to be a long one, I investigated my pantry cupboard and came up with a can of soup and a can of salmon, which at least filled my stomach, and then I went to bed. 


While I was lying there in the dark, trying to go to sleep, it occurred to me that if I was leaving on Friday, I was either going to spend today packing the car, or I was going to spend today cleaning and have to pack the car Friday morning before I left. Since there is no real reason I have to be at Champine on Friday, except that was the day I said I was going, I immediately decided not to go. But when? Saturday, I would get messed up in the beginning of deer season (last year it began on Friday, which wasn't such a problem), and Sunday I would undoubtedly get caught in the return traffic that had gone north only for the weekend. So I am now planning to leave Monday. The car is about half packed, and I have begun to clean the kitchen, although I confess I didn't do a lot today.


When the power went out, not only was the oven on, preparing for my pasty, the computer on, and the radio in the office on, there were lights in the garage, the breezeway and the kitchen, and I was in the middle of washing one load of clothes and drying another. So I went to sleep, all crumby and dirty, and when the power came back on, shortly after midnight, I had to scuttle around and turn everything off that was on, and restart the dryer (I closed the laundry door).


It was a rather wakeful night, because I had cats clinging to both sides, which made it hard for me to sleep. The wind was sustained at over 35 mph, with gusts into the 40 mph range, but out of the north, so I didn't hear a lot of it, but the lake was extremely angry, and no doubt the waves got up to close to 12 feet, before anybody could see them.


When I got up this morning, it was still pretty hairy. When I looked out at the deck, it was clear that we had not had more than an inch or two of snow here, and it had all turned to ice. Putting out the bird feeder was, shall we say, interesting. but the little birds came, so it was worth it. The temperature was in the lower 20s, too, so the wind chill was probably in the single digits.


After the power went out last evening, when I tried to call UPPCO, I could hear that the phone line was pretty bad, so I called SBC, too. They couldn't find anything wrong with my voice line, but they said there was a problem with the computer line. I was finally fixing breakfast when the repairman showed up, none too happy about being out here on a cold and slippery morning. He fooled around for quite a while, and he maintained he couldn't find anything wrong, but he did reconnect a bunch of wires, and it seems better now. At least the line isn't dropping every 15 minutes, and the only dead line was before he got here. We shall see.


There were a couple more brief power outages today - I'm tired of resetting all the digital clocks! - but otherwise, all was quiet. Well, not quite quiet. The wind is still high and the lake is still pretty riled up, but overnight everything should be quieting down.


I'm pretty comfortable with not leaving tomorrow. The weather here is supposed to be nice - partly cloudy and warmer - but the eastern UP got hit today, and I'm not sure about road conditions. By Monday, it should be better. They are forecasting a chance of rain on Monday, but I can handle that.


So that is a November gale. I'm certainly glad I had a nice warm house (although the floors didn't warm up until around 3 am this morning) to be in, and I'm really sorry there are no pictures of the lake. I guess I could have gone out this morning and taken some, but the roads were pretty bad around here even when I went to the post office. The only picture I have is of sunset tonight, and it's not the best, because I took it through the window, but it does bode well for tomorrow. It did begin to clear up this morning, and there was some intermittent sunshine all day.


Besides, I'll get to spend another weekend in Copper Harbor. The car is close to half packed, and I have begun on the kitchen, half-heartedly. I actually ended up not doing much today, except to make a few phone calls. 


I still do not know why these power outages upset me so, except that I feel things that are supposed to work should be working. i was annoyed at not having my nice dinner last night (had it tonight instead), and it did interrupt my packing of the car. I also went to bed feeling really yucky and dirty, and I will really enjoy my bath tonight. Even if there had been no interruptions, there is no way I could have left tomorrow. There is just too much to do, and all I have to do is force myself to do it, and not procrastinate any longer. I keep saying that. Maybe tomorrow...I really would like to get the kitchen clean and the floor washed tomorrow.


I started writing this very early, because I still don't trust the power, but in spite of  spending nearly 12 hours in bed, I feel the need for another good, uninterrupted night's sleep. Maybe tonight.


Oh, yes, and I have to report on what I saw while I was awake last night. The moon is still about three-quarters full, and apparently the cloud cover wasn't all that thick, so it was bright out, even when I couldn't see the moon. At one point, I actually saw clear sky, and I saw the rising moon in the bathroom windows. It was pretty neat, and it was really nice not to have the entire area look like Buster's insides. I could have made my way around without light, although there is always the possibility I would have tripped over a black cat - he gets pretty invisible at night, which he forgets.


There were times yesterday when it looked like it was snowing really hard, but either it melted, or it didn't last long. Shirley was in town, and she said it was just gorgeous from Mohawk north this morning, with all the snow on the trees, and I guess up there in the "higher elevations" they got about 8". Almost made me want to go see it. Almost. My picture from last Friday made the Pasty Cam this morning, and I expect that's what it looked like, except more sun. How I wish I could stay and see it all!


It's calming down in the field tonight.


November 11

There is something wrong with the phone line tonight, so I guess I'll do this before it disappears completely.


Well, the blue boxes are pretty much packed, except for the stuff I can't get in them and a few things I'll need. There are still a lot of piles in the office, but the desk is almost completely cleared off. Once I got it clean, I wondered just why I hadn't done that before, it's so nice, but I guess I just feel I have better things to do than sort and file most of the time.


As usual, there is so much miscellaneous stuff that I feel the need to take with me that getting it all in the car will be a real trial. It's supposed to snow tomorrow, so I think that would be a good time to start stuffing things in the car and see how it goes. I remember one trip up here when, after I had as much as I could stuff in with the lift door open, I closed it, opened the back window, and just dropped stuff down between the door and the boxes. The trouble with that is, when I opened the door at the other end, a whole bunch of stuff fell out...


I sometimes think it would be nice if I didn't need to have all my stuff with me, but the idea of just sitting around with my hands folded or looking at TV just makes me gag, and I can't have it both ways. This year has been bad because I really got into the bead thing again, but I'm hoping that when I get settled on Champine I'll be able to settle in the sewing room and really start working with those things, as well as all the little boxes.


The day started late, because the evening ended up being rather late. After I uploaded the journal for last night, I decided it was time to settle down and get my new version of Norton Internet Security installed, so I shut down the camera and began, and also started the install on the laptop. It just took a while, especially since everything on the CD was out of date, and the online updates took a long time to load. It took two and a half hours, and for a good part of that time, I had both phone lines connected to computers! However, it's done, and before I get online at Champine, I will do it there, too, so we will be all up to date.


It didn't help that I made some bad choices when I was installing on this computer, and this morning I had to call Symantec (at a price) to find out how to get rid of an alert box that kept coming up. The new product is actually a lot more comprehensive than the old one, but they changed some things I don't like at all. Oh, well. At least this computer should be well protected while I'm away from it.


Today was a day I actually would like to have been outdoors. The temperature topped out at over 50 and it was mostly sunny this afternoon, although somewhat breezy. Tomorrow, while it's supposed to get up almost to 40, it's supposed to snow, which means it will be raw and sloppy. 


I am doing this journal quite early, partly because of the phone line, which is still acting up, and partly because I want to get to bed early and maybe have a longer day tomorrow. If I can get a good part of the car packed tomorrow, I can have some time to do some washing and cleaning. As I mentioned, my goal is to not have to be running around like a maniac Thursday night and Friday morning, packing the car. It's cold enough in the garage that I think I can even pack the cooler Thursday, which will be helpful. Then I can direct my attention to getting the cats together Friday morning. That's always a trip - I remember having to follow Buster down the basement stairs and rout him out of a box last year. He dose not like that car trip!


So we'll see what happens.


We are sad and dismal in the lovely field tonight.


November 10

Eek! Three days!


The boxes are gone, so whatever goes back with me is what fits in the car, and as usual, I wonder how I'm going to do that.  It will be interesting. On the way back from the post office, I dropped off five orange bags at the trash compactor, so that stuff is out of the house. I'll have to make one more trip with the last of the stuff, but most of it is gone.


My "little" pile of current magazines and catalogs turned out to be about 10" high, but I got them in a blue box with, I think, enough space left over to put the last couple of file folders in. After that, I have been sitting around sitting around looking at the remaining three boxes (two of which are nearly half full) and wondering how I'm going to get all that stuff in such a small space. Tomorrow, I will have to just do it, and put the overflow in tote bags - and hope I can get it all in the car.


I was resigned to having steak tonight (I had a steak sandwich last night), when the last serving of ziti with Italian sausage nearly fell out of the freezer, so I had a nice, comfort-food dinner. Tomorrow will have to be steak, and then I want to clean the oven.


I rustled around so much yesterday that I was tired today, which is my excuse for not doing much. Not doing it isn't going to make it go away, and I keep hoping I won't be loading the car at 10 pm Thursday night, like I've done before. We shall see. I am a procrastinator, I don't want to go, and I somehow have the feeling deep inside that if I don't do anything, it will go away. Hah.


The weather was dull and gray all day long, with not much wind, and temperature right around 40 with little change. Most uninspiring, but the flock of chickadees were happy it was warmer, and the little chipmunks were around, too.


Most of the snow is gone, except going up the hill on the other side of Lake Lilly, where it is muddy and messy. 


Now that it's above freezing, I finally realized what has been going on in the manholes and around the fire hydrants - they are draining and flushing and getting ready for the winter. Ever since the old Mariner burned to the ground because the hydrants were frozen, the fire department has been very careful about that. The trouble was, the township put in the water system and the sewer system without anybody in the volunteer fire department knowing they had to do some maintenance to keep the hydrants operating. Now they know. They do the same stuff in Grosse Pointe Farms, too, but usually over the summer, because there are so many hydrants.


I guess we are in for some rain for the next couple of days (mixed with snow later), but they are still saying Friday will be a pretty good day. It will be nice not to leave in a blizzard like last year.


By the way, depending upon how well I manage with my packing, I'm considering not doing a journal Thursday or Friday, so don't anybody panic if you don't see any updates here. Just once, I'd like to get an early start and maybe not run around in panic mode the last morning. We'll see.


It's quiet and dull and the fur balls are very unhappy in the field tonight.


November 9

It wasn't as clear as they promised, but it was very nice to see the sun. The only thing is, it's already so low in the sky that it shines in the south windows right in my eyes at about 10am. Earlier it was the setting sun shining on the monitor, and now it's the morning sun. That's all right: at this time of year, I like to sit and bask when there is any sun at all.


While I was doing the morning thing, Nancy, the woman who is building west of Hunter's Point, called, to see what I was doing about dinner. They are here to get some of the final decisions made.


I was sitting around printing pictures, and learning a bit more about Photoshop. That program has so many features it is really intimidating, but I learned that if I like the way a picture looks on the screen, I should print it using color management based upon my monitor, while if I don't like the way it looks, I should at least try it the way it came out of the camera. Some of the sunsets were washed out when I printed them that way, but the pictures I took of the late fall color in the harbor were much better printed than they are on the website. Sorry about that. I did waste quite a lot of photo paper, but I have a set of prints to show people who don't have computers. The last one I had to reprint was because I had gotten ink spots on it, which seems to happen once every year.


The phone call prompted me to get going, and shortly after 1 pm, I started packing boxes. What a horrible job, particularly since I kept wondering, why did I bring that? I am going to try to rethink the crafts next year, because I certainly have been shipping back and forth a lot of stuff I'll probably never do here. There are two boxes of craft stuff, and for a while I was panicking because there seemed a lot left. There is a lot left, but then I realized that I have an empty blue box, too, plus a lot of tote bags. Packing the clothes was actually easier, because I know I left most of my winter clothes at Champine, and besides, I tend to wear a different set of things there. I left one box open in case I see something more tomorrow, and there is a small pile of stuff to put in the suitcases (other than the underwear, of course),as well as the wash. The only thing that isn't going to make it are most of the magazines. I've more or less decided they will just have to wait until my summer trip back next year. I will take a few of the current issues and a few of the important, current catalogs, and that's it.


The cats are both freaked out, of course, because they know what the packing of the boxes means. I wish I could do something to console them, but that's the way it is.


I finished around 5 pm, and I was sitting and knitting a bit when Nancy called again to say that they would be a bit late, because they had picked up a nail in a tire on their way out of their driveway and Chip was changing it. What a pain! However, I suspect I did the same thing back in the fall of 2000, because ever after, the lemon car had  a slow leak in one tire.


We had a lovely dinner, and it is fun to see them, they are so excited about their house. The builders will start painting this week, and the heat was on, and it's really starting to look and act like a real house. I remember how I felt in the fall of 2000, when I watched the drywall go in, and realized it was actually all coming together.


The weather started out pretty clear this morning, and while it was quite cool in the morning, it warmed up quickly, and the temperature topped out around 41. the highest it's been in some time.  The clouds moved in during the afternoon, and there is no moon tonight that I have seen, but I was able to walk out onto my front porch without a coat on to say good-bye and not freeze to death. There is about a 15 mph wind blowing, but it's from the southwest, which isn't usually the cold direction, and I guess it's supposed to be around 40 all week, not much precipitation, and partly cloudy skies. Not too bad for mid-November.


I am hoping that having gotten the boxes out of the way early will give me the time to get everything else together and maybe do a little bit of cleaning...I have to do some cleaning, because both the kitchen and the bathroom are disasters. I will try hard to continue tomorrow, and get the blue boxes all packed up and stacked at least in the hallway. It's a bit cool and damp to put them in the breezeway. I can't stop now.


So it was a busy day, and I find I'm tired.


It's warm (relatively) and windy in the field tonight.


November 8

It's amazing what a difference not having a wind can make. It was down below 20 mph before I got to bed, but mostly, it had veered around to the north, where the trees shield the house from the full force. Not only was it quiet, it was a lot warmer, and I was quite comfortable all night. I didn't freeze my butt off when I got up, either. Unfortunately, I didn't make it out of bed until 10:30 or so (I really was tired last night!), which really truncated the day. I will try to do better tonight.


Since I hadn't taken the time yesterday, I had the slow breakfast today, which put me further behind, and just about the time I was finishing, Tom Boost called. So my pump hose is now disconnected, the pond is pretty much drained (except for about 2" of ice) and covered, and the storm doors are on. He approved of the antifreeze, and we talked about when I am going and when I am coming back. He was also kind enough to haul the two boxes of kitty litter downstairs for me.


While I was down there, I brought two boxes upstairs, so we now know we are really going, and we are not happy about anticipating it.  I piled up a few more things that need to be packed, and I sorted all the magazines and catalogs, and threw away two bags of stuff. How those things do pile up! Next summer, when I take my midsummer trip back to Champine to see the doctor, I will have to make sure I take the magazines, anyway. For some reason I didn't do that last August, and now I'm sorry.


Except to update my call list for changing my address, that was about the extent of my work for today. I'm hoping to get more done tomorrow.


It was another very cold day, although the wind was a bit less, and there were a couple of snow squalls. The "partly sunny" didn't start to happen until after sunset, and it was cloudy and frigid and spitting snow all day. I think the temperature, according to my thermometers, topped out at about 22. Brr!


Sunset was interesting, however. It was still very cloudy, but about 10 minutes after the sun went down there was a very red glow over the west bluff, so I ran to take a couple of pictures out the great room slider. I had just uploaded them and thought they were kind of pretty, when I looked out again, and wow! In order to get more pictures, I had to go out onto the deck, and I took as many as I could before I froze. This one was about the best, and the show didn't last very long, but you can even see a bit of a sun pillar. Sometime I hope to be here when there's a real sun pillar.


Actually, when I think about it, all the beautifully clear weather we had after I got here meant a pretty bad year for atmospheric effects. Oh, well, we can't have everything. I'll take the summer we had, thank you.


As it began to get dark, the sky cleared beautifully, and when I went out to dinner, instead of the full moon rising over the trees, there was a half moon - the eclipse had actually begun before the moon rose. When we left Mariner after dinner, totality was just about over. Like the May eclipse, the edge of the moon away from the center of the earth's shadow was so bright it hardly looked eclipsed at all, and I thought that was partly because the total phase had ended, but actually, the bright spot was smaller when I got back here - and I could watch the entire thing out the back windows of the great room!  I really like those windows!  When I went to the bathroom a few minutes ago, the moon was half-lit again - on the opposite side, of course.


While it's clear, it didn't seem as pristinely clear as the May eclipse was, so there weren't that many stars, but I didn't stand around outside to let my eyes acclimate to the dark - it's cold out there! I am just not enough of a masochist to be a real dedicated astronomer, I guess. However, it did clear up enough to see the eclipse, which was about all I wanted. 


Tomorrow is supposed to be clear and warmer, too. That will be nice.


Speaking of that, sometime in the next couple of days, I will have to take down the camera to install my new Internet Security package, so if the camera doesn't seem to update for a couple of hours, don't anybody panic. I want to get that in place before I go, since the old version expires at the end of the month. I had thought about doing it tonight, after the camera stops recording, but I have decided to go to bed early, hoping that I will be all full of vigor (hah!) in the morning.


Slowly but surely, I'm getting ready to leave. I have five days.


It's cold and clear in the field tonight.


November 7

It was a cold, noisy night in the field last night. I am not sure what was going on at the NWS station, but the wind out here was a lot stronger between 10 pm and 4am than they reported. They finally caught up after that, but I'm pretty sure it was up around 30 mph or more with gusts all night long, and since it was coming from the northwest, it was slamming right into the front corner of my bedroom. What a racket! It was also kicking up the lake so much that I could hear the roar of the surf from my bed without trouble. Lately, I could only really hear it well when I was close to a window.  The surf was also up in the harbor, and some nice breakers were hitting my beach. At intervals, when I woke up, snow squalls would have come in from the lake and not only could I not see the lights of Copper Harbor, sometimes I couldn't see the harbor in front of the house and I could barely see the lighthouse light. With that kind of wind and temperatures in the low 20s, it was really frigid.


I was later getting to bed than I'd planned, because this ridiculous program I use to create this site decided (after two weeks!) that it needed to copy all the pictures I have added to the site since May 5 or April 21 or something. It simply cannot handle the time change to and from Daylight Savings Time. I have been having to say "no" several hundred times every night (and will until after I get back to my DSL connection), but even so, last night it simply decided not to ask me if I wanted to replace all those pictures - it just went ahead and did it, and it took close to an hour. I wonder if the newer version of FrontPage has corrected problems like that (or that somehow I managed to convert this month's journal to a different font), but somehow, the way Microsoft tends to work, it wouldn't surprise me if they decided it wasn't worth the effort. To me, it's just slovenly coding when a program can't even check dates properly.


So back to the field. I think I will set up the night temperature in the bedroom and bathroom, because it got really cold by morning, and the radiant heat responds so slowly that the temperature was only about 60 when I got up...and that's too cold to be running around with not much on.


As a result of the noise, I didn't get a very good night's sleep last night, and besides, along about 4am when It got cold in here, I was sharing my bed with two cats who wanted to be as close to me as they could get, which, frankly, isn't very comfortable for me. My interrupted rest meant that I didn't get up very early this morning, and the NWS to the contrary notwithstanding, it was under 20 here in the field with a 30+ mph wind and intermittent snow squalls. Really winter.


I had promised I was going to town today, however, so I moved a bit faster than normal and broke out my down parka and my shearling-lined deerskin mittens (and my hat, of course!) and took off...slowly. It was before 11 am, really early for me! Enough snow had fallen and blown that the roads around Copper Harbor were, to say the least, interesting. In fact, after spinning both wheels (fortunately!) I went into four-wheel drive and left it there until I got to Mohawk. 


Around the time I passed Lake Medora, where there was a snow squall over the lake, I realized that the wind had blown the snow onto the sides of the trees and the drive was actually very pretty. The problem was to decide where to stop and take pictures, and I was south of Mandan before I stopped at a couple of places. In the first picture, you can just make out a curve sign, which is the only indication that I didn't take the picture in black and white. 


You can also see the condition of the road. Enough cars had been along the road to make it icy, although after that one instance where I spun my wheels going up the hill toward the Mountain Lodge, I didn't have any more trouble. I didn't drive at my usual 55mph on the covered road, either. 


Shortly after I took the second picture, I picked up a sand truck, and I followed him nearly to Mohawk, when he pulled over so I and the guy behind me could pass. The guy behind me took off at over 60mph, which I thought was just a tad fast for conditions. South of Mohawk, the road was well sanded, and in Houghton county it had been treated with a combination of sand and salt, so while it was wet, it wasn't slippery. Tell that to the other drivers.  I was glad I wasn't in a hurry, because there was some interesting driving going on. Even up here, people forget over the summer, if they ever knew how to drive in snow.


Periodically, on the way south, I drove through more snow squalls, but every so often the sun would shine through, which told me all the snow was lake effect, and if it wasn't for all those billowy gray clouds near the ground, the day would have been partly cloudy.


There wasn't much traffic either on the way down or in Hancock and Houghton, but I soon found out why: everybody was at WalMart. I have never seen that parking lot when it wasn't at least half full, and since most of the lines on the pavement were covered, people were parking pretty much where they wanted to. I scurried around and got my antifreeze and my light bulbs...and another granite pot to take back with me! As I suspected, when the shelves were bare, they reordered, and they had lots today. I also picked up a few things to take back with me, and I may have left a bag in the store, since I know I bought shampoo, and I can't find it. Or maybe I just can't find it...or maybe it fell out of the bag and it's still in the car.


Then it was off to Ming Gardens and a farewell lunch, good as usual. While I was eating, first a ray of sunshine illuminated the stone building behind the mine hoist building at Quincy Mine, then the next thing I knew, there was a snow squall blowing right down the Portage Canal. Up on the hill, where I was, there was no snow at all. Fun to watch.


Next was EconoFoods, and I hope I got everything I need there, which wasn't a lot, but again, some things I want to take south with me, mostly breakfast food. As a rule, I don't shop in Grosse Pointe on weekends, so I need enough to tide me over until Monday. As usual, I can't remember exactly what I left on Champine in the way of toothpaste and shampoo and things like that, so I wanted to take some back just in case, and I can leave here what I'm using now. I also want to leave some Jack Daniels here, just in case.


The trip back was much easier, because the road was either dry or just wet all the way to the Eagle Harbor Cutoff road, after which it looked just like it did on the way down.  I kept hearing a strange sound from my tires, so I went back into four-wheel drive and the sound went away. I think posslbly the tires were slipping just a bit on every revolution, and it was a weird noise. There wasn't any traffic on the covered road until I got almost to the Mountain Lodge and got behind a guy who was driving just a little slower than I would have, but that's only a mile or so, and he didn't turn right at the blinker.


When I got home, somebody had been in the driveway, and I soon discovered that the UPS guy had come to pick up the boxes I only called about yesterday - the empty boxes are still in the basement! He will come back twice more, Monday and Tuesday, so I know for sure what I'll be doing over the weekend! He is a nice guy, but he's just a little too much on the ball. I had hoped not to see him until Tuesday or Wednesday.


There was also a call from Shirley, who said she had passed me on the road this morning - she had spent the night at her house in town - and she wondered if I was thinking about dinner. So I went back to Mariner, and ate most of a quesidilla, and was one of five diners and seven paying customers they had all evening. It's really dead around here.


The latest on Ken and Red is that they operated on his arm today, and she is breathing on her own now, so I guess they're making progress, but they're still in Marquette, and they probably will be for a while.


So that was my interesting day. I don't necessarily mind driving in this kind of weather, but I do find it tiring, and at least from the south end of the house, it doesn't seem to be quite so noisy as last night, possibly because the wind has shifted north (or it had an hour ago), and possibly because it is finally dying down some. If the bedroom is a little warmer, and the noise is a little less, I think I will probably sleep for a long time tonight...


It's winter in the field for sure tonight.


November 6

Well, I fiddled around so long last night that it was nearly 1 am before I got in bed, and then I couldn't sleep (which had its good moments, as you will see), so when I woke up this morning it was 8:45 already and I didn't feel like getting up at all. Eventually I did roll out of bed, but the weather and the time made me decide not to go to town today. So I will have to go tomorrow, snow or no snow.


I was restless and thinking about packing after  got into bed last night, and Buster was busting all over the house, thumping and yelling and generally making a nuisance of himself. I don't know if it was because I had ignored him or because his litter is pretty bad or what, but he certainly made a pest of himself. So I was lying in bed, trying to sleep, and noticing that the clouds were very bright from the moon behind them, when I realized that there was a cold, blue light shining on the bed. When I looked out the window, there was the almost-full moon behind the (dead) birch. It was only visible for ten minutes or so before a new batch of clouds came through, thick enough that for the rest of the night it was dark.


The northern sky wasn't clear and anyway the moon was so bright it probably would have washed out almost any but the brightest northern lights, so I don't know if there were any or not.


Just on a whim, I put on a flannel nightie last night, and I was glad I did. With a 20mph and higher wind out of the northwest and temps in the upper 20s, I regret to say it was cold in here. This morning, when I finally did get up, it was only 62 in the office, which is right over the machine room and the warmest place in the house. If I were to stay here over the winter, I would have to set up the thermometers and I would clearly have to lay in a supply of wood and burn it in the fireplace, just to heat the great room. That high ceiling, with all those windows, makes it really hard to heat. Of course, I realized that from the get-go, but being able to look out my windows and see stars almost at zenith is worth it.


In order to keep me from asphyxiating myself or the cats, the house can't be really air-tight, and that northwest wind will find any tiny crack to get in. However, I have gas and down quilts and flannel nightgowns and long johns and lots of warm tops. I even put on my baby cap to go to the post office, which was noticed. But when the locals are wearing their watch caps (indoors, too), I figure it's time for me to cover my head, too.


And it was cold outside. The wind chill all day long was around 20, and at that temperature, the 20 to 30 mph wind (regardless of what the NWS station says, that's what it was here!) feels like little knives cutting at my face. Not a good day to take a long hike!


It was a good day to stay home, because after an uninspiring start, including a couple of lake-effect snow squalls, for a good part of the day, it was partly cloudy, and the sun was shining in. It was so nice to see blue sky for a change! The wind is so strong the clouds were moving through fast, and toward sunset, they began to thicken. I'm sorry it was so cold, because for about an hour, we were treated to various crepuscular rays, way off in the south to the left of the camera view. I would like to have taken pictures, but I did not think a bunch of shots of gray clouds was worth standing out in the wind and wind chill for. Sorry. I couldn't move the camera, because the tree would block the view, so I would have had to sit outside with the Nikon, and the idea didn't appeal to me very much.


There is a winter storm warning out for tonight and tomorrow, but John Dee says it probably won't amount to much. He also observed that the NWS putting out a warning for large amounts of snow is the kiss of death for a really big fall, which certainly seems to be true. However, I've said before that I think they tend to exaggerate wildly anyway, then retract after they see what's really happening. Anyway, snow doesn't really scare me much: I've driven in enough of it.


What does scare me is the other drivers, and that was brought home to me this morning. Red and Ken Twarzik were on their way to a basketball game in Houghton Tuesday evening when they were in a head-on crash with another Copper Harbor resident (whom I will decline to name, because he was drunk). Both of them are in Marquette General: Ken had surgery today to put pins in a very badly broken arm, and Red has a collapsed, punctured lung. Both of them have broken ribs. The other, nameless, driver walked away. I think both Twarziks will be all right, but they'll have a long recovery, and it's a real pity. They have just turned The Pines over to the new owners (although it's not official until after the first of the year), and I'm sure they were looking forward to their retirement. This is not the way it should have started out.


However, US-41 is so windy and twisty that even driving defensively doesn't always help, since it's hard to defend against somebody you can't see. The accident took place just north of Phoenix, I guess, and that is one of the places where there's not much shoulder and a lot of S-turns.


So that is the bad news.


I began to think about packing, and I've ordered the pickup for Tuesday or Wednesday, so Saturday morning, I'll have to haul the boxes upstairs and then we'll know for sure that that terrible car ride is coming up. I have also begun trying to sort out the stuff in the office, but it seems like I will have to do that as I pack the boxes, because there is stuff in blue boxes that needs to be in shipping boxes...and so on. I was a good girl, and didn't play one game today. I either worked on my sorting or I knitted on the crazy sock, and I am two-thirds down the foot, so I should be able to finish that before I leave.


I also finally finished buttonholing around the basket band, and I have decided that while a little Hardanger can be interesting, I could never make something big, like a doily or a collar, especially something with buttonhole stitch all around. It would (it did) drive me crazy. And this is really cheater Hardanger anyway - only the outside is cut, and there are no holes in the rest of the piece, just eyelets. I'll take a picture when I finish it, promise.


I should also point out that the rose bellpull has been hanging on the office door since I finished it, and you can sort of see a shadow of it, not very clearly, when the lights are on inside. That one is going to be very hard to take a picture of, since it's 45" long and only about 7" wide, but eventually, I'll try.


So that is all the news from the field, it is only 8:30, and I am going to trundle right down the hall as soon as I publish it, and go to bed. I may limp down the hall, because I was walking toward the office and I picked up my left leg to walk over a bag of trash and something felt like it came loose, and I could hardly put my weight on my leg for a while. What in the world I did, I do not know, but the last time I stood up, I had a very sore knee. So I will put it into a nice warm bed and see how it is tomorrow.


Baby, it's cold in the field tonight!


November 5

It was another uniformly dull, gray day, cold and windy with a few flurries. The temperature at the weather station hung at around 32 all day, but out here in the wind, it was a couple of degrees cooler. It was so unpleasant out that not even many birds came to the feeder. I stuck my nose outside three times - to hang and fetch the feeder, and to get a towel off the porch. I didn't want to spend much time outside, believe me.


While it may not be obvious from the pictures of the office, I actually did make some headway today. All the papers are filed and one blue box is packed (it's so full I can't get anything else in it). There is one big folder of junk that I only went through quickly, but none of it is of great importance and will hold. Next spring I hope I can not bring some stuff like that. Live and learn. 


I located the two folders of stuff pertaining to this house, which I plan to leave here, and someday I hope to get it all organized. I'm reluctant to do that, partly because I hate to file, of course, but also because then I will end up adding up the total of what I spent on this house, and I really don't want to know. It was a lot.


This evening, I hauled out the step stool and got the light bulb that burned out, which I will have to take with me when I go to town. I am planning to go tomorrow, since most of the day is predicted to be windy but dry. They are predicting another winter storm for Thursday night and Friday, although John says it probably won't amount to much. 


Saturday is supposed to be OK, too, and (fingers crossed) so far they say it may be partly cloudy Saturday night for the eclipse. Wouldn't that be nice? It will be cold, but since the whole show isn't supposed to take very long (totality is only 25 minutes, which is very short for a lunar eclipse), the only question in my mind is (after the weather) whether the moon will have risen high enough for me to see it from here. I will have to check out Sky & Telescope's article with timings.


Oh, yes, and this morning the sun belched forth the biggest x-ray flare anybody has ever recorded. Since the region that did it is rotating away from us, only part of the CME is going to hit us, but there still could be a show tonight, for those who have clear skies. Not us, of course. I guess I'm just as glad that the full force of the blast didn't hit earth - that much stuff could conceivably cause major disruptions of power and communications. But I sure wish I could see the show. Drat.


So that's all there is in the field tonight.


November 4

Well, the snows came, but not until after 8 am this morning. It was wet and sloppy and maybe an inch fell before it began to turn to sleet and rain around 3 pm. The temperature has been rising all day, but what it was is iffy. The NWS station (when it was reporting) says it went from 33 to 37 now, but my thermometers have reported a low of around 30 this morning to about 34 now. The thermometer that fell off the tree is reading lower than the one behind the house, so when I get to Champine I will have to do some testing to see if it is broken or if it needs new batteries. Anyway, the wind has been strong, around 15 to 20 mph, from the east to southeast. It was impossible to see more than halfway down the harbor all day long. Not very nice.


With the temperature rising, there won't be any more snow for a while, but it may rain some, and sometime tonight the wind is supposed to switch 180, to the northwest at about the same speed. When I wish I had a fully functional weather station, so I could watch the switch. I know when it does that in the summer, with the windows open, it's a really cool phenomenon (sometimes in more ways than one!).


In spite of the weather, I made it to the post office, and there was more than two days' worth of mail for me, so that was kind of fun. I paid a couple of bills and sorted some more papers, but tomorrow I must do something more. Time is passing.


Buster is really getting upset, particularly now that it has snowed. He does have a delicate stomach, and he doesn't do really well with what we had for breakfast this morning, but he barfed twice during the day today. I wish there was some way to tell him it will be all right. Cats have remarkable memories, but they are like some people I know - they only seem to remember the bad things. I am trying to be extra nice to him, but having him on my lap all the time does get old. Oh, well. This too will pass, and he'll be happy to be back on Champine.


It was so nasty this morning that I did something I should have done some time ago: I took the bird feeder out the office slider, which is about four feet from where I hang it. In the nice weather, it's fun to walk down the deck in the morning and again after dark, and breathe the nice air and enjoy the view. Lately, however, it's been unpleasant to downright nasty out there, and I decided I was not going to bundle up like I was going to the north pole just to hang up the bird feeder! So now, I suppose there will be sunflower seeds all over the floor in the office, too, but it's a lot easier in the bad weather. That door is open infrequently enough that when I went to fetch in the feeder tonight, DC had to come and see what that door was all about. There's still some curiosity alive in the old guy yet.


Now I've made changes to this thing three times, and I think I've said everything I wanted to say today.


It's sloppy and dark in the field tonight.


November 3

Another lost day. I went to bed late and got up late and fooled around most of the day. The most work I did was to make a couple of telephone calls and make dinner. I really do procrastinate better than most anybody else I know.


I only stuck my nose outside the house twice, to put the feeder out and fetch it in, and it wasn't very nice out. The temperature hung in at just over freezing all day, but with the wind at around 15 mph from the northeast all day, the windchill was down in the low 20s. 


It is not snowing, despite what everybody says. South of us, from Iron Mountain into Wisconsin and the lower peninsula, it has been snowing or sleeting or raining, or a combination, all day, and I expect it's nasty. Here it was just cloudy and dull as usual. It's possible that we could get some snow here after midnight and on into tomorrow, but the NWS has backed off completely (as I knew they would), and are now saying 1 to 3 inches, mostly over higher terrain. Now, that's more like it for early November. Even after three years I know that much. If we do get more, it won't last. It will only be sloppy for a while.


Of course, since the clouds are thick, there have been another couple of flares from the sun, with the probability of northern lights from now through Thursday. And from now through Friday it's supposed to be cloudy and snowy. So we won't see that, and it looks strongly like we won't see the eclipse, either.


That's the one trouble with being an astronomer around these parts: when it's clear, it's really clear, but it isn't very often. Maybe I should buy a radio telescope instead...or spend my money buying time on one of the remote controlled telescopes that are popping up around the country. Nah - the fact is that, although the pictures are really pretty, there is nothing in the world like looking through a telescope with your own eyes and seeing for yourself what's out there.


Speaking of seeing, when I finally got out the sky maps, I realized that what I was seeing the other morning was Leo, and the bright star was Regulus. Saturn was up, but it's in Gemini, which I couldn't see from that window, and Jupiter is someplace else. I would hate to start keeping my planisphere beside my bed, but it may end up there.


It was a dark, dull, cold day in the field.


November 2

I forgot to mention that last night on the way to dinner, I had to come nearly to a stop around the holding ponds because there was a fox trotting down the middle of the road.


I got to bed at a more reasonable hour than I will tonight, and when I got up around 3am, I looked out the window and said  "Oh! Stars!" So I got on my glasses and peered out various windows...but not the right ones, actually. Out the back I could see Cassiopeia high in the sky, and when I looked out the closet window, the Big Dipper was vertical in the northeast. South of it was something I didn't recognize - which I later found out was Leo rising, possibly with Saturn in it. If I had come down to the south end, I would have had a lovely view of the winter constellations with Orion at about its greatest height. However, nothing jumped out of the sky at me, so I went back to bed, and I could see a dark cloud beginning to cover up the clear sky. It was nice to see a few stars for a change, if only for a few minutes. Of course there were no northern lights.


By morning it was cloudy again, although for most of the day, the clouds were quite high and a couple of times a ray of sun peeked in the south window for a minute or two. By 4pm or so, it was beginning to get foggy or hazy or something over the mountain. The temperature hung in there right around 40, and there was a brisk northwest wind for most of the afternoon. Not particularly inspiring, but better than it could be.


However...the NWS has a winter storm watch for tomorrow night into Tuesday with the possibility of up to 10" of snow. I think they are overreacting again, but we'll see what John Dee's forecasts say tomorrow. His winter forecasts start tomorrow, and of course he does the Houghton and Keweenaw counties forecast every weekday. One of the reason I like John's forecasts is that if he errs it is usually on the moderate side. If he says it will snow, he's usually right, and his depth predictions are usually more on target than the NWS is. I guess I can understand it: he pays particular attention to this part of the country, whereas the NWS has to try to forecast for the entire country, and they are likely to pay more attention to more populated areas. But they do frequently grossly overstate the severity of nasty weather systems, even in the big city.


So I guess maybe I won't go to town Tuesday. I'll see how it is. I do have to go to town one more time before I leave, but I doubt that Hughes farm is open anymore, so it really doesn't matter which day I go.


Today I embroidered some more scallops, but the big thing was that I attacked the pile of paper on the side of my desk and it is now a much more manageable size. I have moved the file boxes over to my side of the desk, and tomorrow I will get all the stuff filed away and sorted out between what stays here and what goes there. It didn't take all that long to get to where I am now, but It isn't my favorite task. I was spurred to do it, however, because yesterday I got what seems to have been a duplicate bill from Cottage Hospital and I wanted to check to see if I could find the previous bill and see if I had paid it. I had, so I guess tomorrow I will be spending some time on the telephone. The desk is still an awful mess, or it looks it, but I pretty much know what all the piles are, which is a step forward.


Tonight I ate at Mariner again, with Shirley. They have closed the motel, although they are still here. their last guests apparently left this morning, so now King Copper Motel is officially closed for the winter for the first time in a good many years. Shirley seems quite cheerful about the whole thing. The one thing I haven't asked her is what they are planning to do about people who call over the winter to make their reservations for next season...or maybe they just won't take any until May.


So it's getting quieter and quieter in the field.


November 1

Right after I uploaded last night's journal, I glanced out the window, and for a brief moment, there was a nice crescent moon, which was quickly covered over by clouds. It is there, however.


I made the mistake of leaving the dryer on when I went to bed last night (actually, the mistake was starting that last load of clothes so late), and it made enough noise that I finally turned it off at 1am so I could get some sleep, which I didn't do very well. While I was lying awake and thinking about boxes and other crafty things, I noticed that the clouds seemed a lot brighter than is usual on a cloudy night, so I suspect there was another light show that we missed last night. Rats. Anyway, I didn't make it out of bed very early this morning.


When I got up, there was actually a little sunshine between the clouds, and for a while the harbor was blue. Unfortunately, nobody saw it, because something wasn't right. I think this is the morning the system didn't boot properly and the system didn't ever completely come up. Or was this the morning the dialup wasn't redialing properly (it still isn't)? Or both? I don't remember now, except that there were no pictures until 10:30. Sorry about that.


For most of the night and most of the morning, there was a strong northwest wind, which contributed to the noise last night. The temperature hung in around the middle 30s all day long, and it was right chilly when I put out the bird feeder this morning. It was another good day to hibernate, so I did.


I am slowly working on the buttonhole stitch around my basket band. I'm doing the bottom, which is sort of scalloped, and it is very slow going. That occupied me until it was time to go to the post office. Afterwards, I was planning to start sorting my papers, but it was too dark, so I didn't. Tomorrow.


Other than a lot of clean clothes that need to be put away and a lot of clean dishes that need to be put away, not much else went on here today. The weather forecast is still for uniformly cloudy skies for the next week, although the snow they were predicting for today has now been pushed back to tomorrow night. There is snow in the forecast for every day next week, although I don't put much faith in anything past Monday. John Dee's winter forecasts begin Monday, and we'll see what he says.


Tonight, I ate at Mariner with Shirley and her daughter Cindy, and that was very nice. There was one couple inside when we left, but there were no cars but ours, no cars at Zik's bar, and no cars at either store. Really, really dead! Just the way I like it.


When I went to dinner, the moon was out, but by the time I came home, the clouds had covered it up again, so it looks to be another cloudy night. I am planning on an early bedtime tonight, but we'll see.


So it is quiet, cloudy and chilly in the field on All Saint's Day.


Last  updated 08/04/11 08:45 PM