A View From the Field








January, 2006





January 31

Gee, January is over already! Amazing! And what an interesting weather month!


I crashed last night, and while I could have kept on sleeping, I was up in time to have most of my orange juice before the builder came.


Buster appeared, after being coaxed, about the time I was getting ready for bed, and he spent the night with me, but when I got up this morning he was gone again. I guess he thought the workmen were coming back, or something. Poor Buster! Adam is sometimes a workman, but he wasn't doing anything like that today. We just talked, and he took some measurements, since the plans for my house seem to have disappeared, and apparently all my copies of them are at the other house. Now I am waiting with trepidation for the numbers. It would really be nice to get the basement finished off before I move all the junk in. We'll see.


My other activity for the day was to go to Shepherd of the Sea Lutheran church to take communion, and actually,  I had a little church service, just me and Bonnie. It was lovely, and I feel much better for it. The leaders of my flavor of Lutheranism may not quite approve of a female lay minister giving communion, but circumstances alter cases, and I wonder if they would think it better that I didn't receive it at all. In fundamental theology I agree with the Missouri Synod, but in a lot of the other things, I think they are mired in the 19th century and it wouldn't do them any harm to loosen up a bit. Comes from being stiff-necked Germans, I guess.


It was a truly beautiful night last night, and I'm sorry I couldn't enjoy more of it. I was out the moment my head hit the pillow, before my eyes had even accommodated, and it was 2:30 before I woke up again - 3½ hours, about my maximum. When I looked out, I could see enough stars that I put on my glasses, and I was excited to see Orion standing on top of the mountain! Rigel, the lower right hand star, was already behind the hill, but there he was, standing there. I knew Taurus and the Pleiades should be around there somewhere, but my orientation was off enough that I couldn't find them. It's sometimes hard to interpret what I'm seeing when I'm looking through the windows.  There were a lot of stars out there, though. That wasn't supposed to happen till today during the day.


This morning was beautiful, too, with sunshine and a clear sky and temperatures in the middle 20s. It did cloud up a bit late in the day, but the temperature stayed in the 20s and by sunset the winds were calm. How I do love to see the harbor when it's like that!  I looked out the windows shortly after 5:00, and I swear I saw a sun pillar, but I had to put my shoes on and run down the hall (figuratively, of course - I couldn't run if my life depended on it) to get the camera, and by the time I got back to the office, it was gone. However, a while later, after the sun had set, there were some really interesting clouds in the southwest, so here is the first picture of the year. See? I knew I'd see some good things if I was here! That hill on the right is the west bluff (where the Mountain Lodge is), by the way. I think maybe, if the bird feeder wasn't there, the sun would be peeking in the camera. I may move the feeder. It's on its way north now!


After dark, it cleared up quite a bit, and when I went to get my winter, the tiny sliver of moon, with the old moon in her arms, was shining brightly over the mountain. They say it's supposed to cloud up and snow overnight, but we'll see.


Anyway, I got another day of free heat. The boiler hardly runs at all when it's that sunny, even with the temperature in the 20s.


So that was a nice day in Copper Harbor, and maybe I can get to bed earlier tonight, too, although I do want to finish the purple afghan square if I can. Peace in the field.


January 30

Wow! Do I need to go to bed! For some reason I don't remember now, I didn't get to bed until 1:30, and while I slept well for a while, along about 6:00 I started getting warm, and since I knew I did have to get up, I didn't sleep very well anymore. I did manage to drag it out until 9:00, and I really, really didn't want to get up.


However, the plumber arrived with his helper and two cars at 9:30, so it was good that I did. Eventually, I got over it, but now I'm really tired.


Buster ran away when the guys arrived, and I still haven't seen him. I'm afraid he was in the basement with all the banging and rustling around, and where ever he is, he hasn't come out yet. Poor Buster.


However, the humidifier is installed, and while it is a bit noisier than I would have wished, it is already raising the humidity - it's 33% in the office, which is getting into the realm where I'm comfortable. Unfortunately, the plumber forgot the register covers, so I have some holes in the floors, but he will eventually take care of that.


As for me, I unloaded the dishwasher and knitted, and that's about it, except to consult a couple of times on where to put ductwork and things like that. I have finished one purple square that puts together two of the green squares, and I'm working on the other one now. I didn't have so much trouble with the pattern today, but I think that's because I was paying more attention.


I did have some trouble with the internet. For a while, I couldn't get any page to completely load to the point where it says "done" in the lower left corner. I don't know why, and I called PastyNet. After that, it would be fine for a while then quit again. There was one site where I never did manage to get everything to load. I put in an order there, too, and I'll be interested to see if they actually got it.


It snowed more or less lightly all night long and most of the day, until about 3:00, I think, but there really wasn't much accumulation. Ron reported that it drifted pretty badly out toward Mac's house when the wind finally turned from the north, but that's not surprising, since Horizon Drive parallels the shoreline. Otherwise, the road seems to be in pretty good shape. I have some little drifts against the garage door, and I'll just have to see if that keeps the door from closing. The temperature was in the low to middle 20s all day. The wind started out from the northeast at over 20 mph, and it has now veered north and dropped to around 18 mph, although it varies. I had hoped we'd get more snow, but at least the temperature is lower.


So that was my day, and now I really, really must go to bed!


January 29

Well, I was supposed to go to bed early, because the plumber might be here at 9:00 tomorrow morning to install my humidifier. But, oh, well.


Part of it was that I wanted to get the last green square knitted so I could start on the purple ones that begin putting them together. I did, and I started a purple square, but I had a terrible time. I think I forgot the decreases at least half the time and had to unknit back to the middle to do them, and at one point I did something (I don't know what) that lost a stitch and I had to pull out six rows, and when I knitted them back up, I ended up with less than ½" of yarn tail. Just not paying attention, I guess. I read two magazines while I was doing it, and that isn't quite like reading my book. I did a bit better when I went back to the book, but not much. It was that kind of day.


I got up late. I was up during the night, and while it was cloudy and dark, the snow didn't appear to start until about 6:00. It did snow lightly all day long, and there were gusty east (!) winds, but there doesn't seem to have been much accumulation. The lake is roaring at a great rate, and Ron says the waves are something else, but it wasn't a blizzard by any stretch. The temperature trend was down, but very, very slowly. It was right around freezing for most of the day, and it has now dropped off to the high 20s. A good day to hibernate.


I actually had a nice breakfast for a change. Some days I'm just not hungry, and some days I am. Today was a hungry day. Good thing, because I spent the late afternoon playing with my ovens.


I haven't done much but cook pizza in the ovens, but I wanted to try the convection oven on my chicken (for the second time), and I wanted to try the temperature probe, too. I am happy to report that I had a very nicely cooked chicken, although not without some glitches. First, I didn't insert the probe right, so I had to start that over. Then I kept getting a series of five beeps every 10 or 15 minutes for a while, and I have no clue what that was about. It turns out that when I use the probe, that is the temperature that is displayed (until it reaches the preset temperature), and not the oven temp. Then there are the blinking "probe" lights and a bunch of other things I don't understand and aren't in the manual.


It was a very nicely cooked chicken, I must say. The next time I do one, I'll have to get fancy and start it on its breast, to try to keep the white meat as juicy as possible. The convection oven does make the skin nice and crispy and keeps the juices inside, both of which are most desirable.


At the same time, I cooked up my squash. I'm sorry to say that a couple of them had gone bad, so I don't have as much as I thought I would, and it got done around the same time as the chicken, so I didn't actually eat any tonight. I wanted it to cool before I scooped it out of the skin, and that was after I'd finished eating my chicken. However, I'd had giblets and veggie tray before then, so I wasn't all that hungry.


In the meantime, I read magazines and knitted - and unknittied - and watched the snow come down. A nice quiet Sunday, I think.


The last time I looked outside, I couldn't see the lights of town, so it's still snowing off and on, and I guess it's supposed to keep that up through tomorrow. Maybe, just maybe, winter is coming back?


So now I really must call a halt to this and get to bed1 It's a dark, noisy night in the field tonight.


January 28

It was a beautifully clear night, and I enjoyed it by getting up a few more times than I would have liked. But there were lots of stars...when I can see 3rd magnitude stars through the screens without my glasses, it's pretty clear out. I was awake around 8:00, but it was still dark enough that I couldn't tell how the sky was, so I was rather surprised when I finally rolled out of bed (at 11:00) to see that it was cloudy, and according to the camera, it had been cloudy when it got light. That must have happened pretty fast.


So it was a dull gray day, but the temperature only got to about 34º, with a a light east wind, so we didn't lose much more snow. I was amazed by how much we lost over the past few days. There are bare spots in the side yard and on my driveway. That record temperature we set yesterday (by about 17º, it seems) really did a number on the snow. I guess the snowmobile trails are still OK, though, because I saw the groomer today. He had stopped at Mariner for lunch or something. That is one big machine! Looks like it would be fun to run.


I didn't do much, as is usual when I get up so late. Doing my thing on the computer was rather extended, because Charlie was working at the fish house right about the time I was trying to read my funnies, and he took the transceiver down for about an hour. I will say that instead of playing games, I knitted, and I finished another square of the modular afghan (or stole or whatever it is).


I did go to the post office, and I did go to dinner. The road isn't good, but it isn't as bad as it was when I got back here, which is a good thing. There was quite a crowd in Mariner tonight, several large parties, and at least one of 50-somethings (or older) in snowmobile suits, along with three wives. I guess there are some women who just won't let their men go off along or something? Or maybe they really like to snowmobile. I think I would.


They maintain that we are going to have snow overnight (it's snowing over by Marquette, but it hasn't gotten here yet), and tomorrow and maybe Monday as well, and that should get things back in good condition again. However, the temperatures are still running about 10º higher than normal, and I'm beginning to wonder if the harbor will freeze over at all. There is a little pancake ice around the shoreline, but that's about it, and the wind keeps blowing it hither and yon. The inland lakes are frozen, I guess, but probably not very thickly. I guess that because the little creek that goes from Lake Lily to the harbor (through the culverts) is open, and what ice I can see on Lily looks mushy and thin. What an interesting winter!


So that is about all I know, and it's cloudy in the field again.


January 27

It's the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, and I've been listening to a concert of Beethoven and Mozart, and time is passing, so I'll have to do my sleeping in the morning again. Mozart ranks right up there with Bach and Beethoven as three of my favorite composers, and for some reason it seems that until today I haven't heard much of any of them lately.


I crashed pretty well last night, but I was up a lot. I was so thirsty by the time I had lunch that I drank everything I could get my mitts on from then until I went to bed, and it told. However...


It wasn't a pristinely clear night, but I did see stars. I was awake at one point when Capella, Castor and Pollux were setting in the northwest, and I finally figured out that the bright star I've been seeing behind the picnic tree at that hour of the morning is Saturn. It's nice to see stars.


I finally gave up and got up around 10:30, and it was nearly clear outside then, although there were some high cirrus clouds. They went away shortly, and oh my, what a day it was! The temperature got up to 53º, and there was a brisk wind, 15 mph or so, first out of the southwest, then it veered west in the afternoon. And the sunlight was poring into the house from all available windows.


I soaked up as many rays as I could. first in the desk chair, until the sun went behind the wall, then later on, it was shining in the slider for a while, so I sat in the ugly chair and finished off the sweater. I still have to work in all the yarn ends and decide for sure whether I want it that long, but so far it seems like it's done. I couldn't use the computer much because the glare on the screen was washing it out, and that was probably a good thing.


I did take time to get the rest of the stuff out of the car, but that was about it. There is now a wash basket in the office, too, that I have to figure out how to get emptied. I'm going to be having visitors over the next week or two that I would like not to see how perfectly awful it is in here right now. I have some work to do.


When I came in from unloading, Buster was curled up in one of the Ny chairs on a fleece throw, with the sun beating down on him, looking very sleepy and very content. He didn't move until the sun went down. He loves the sunshine, too. Sunshine is good for us, unless we overdo it, and especially at this time of year, I figure we need to get as much as there is to keep up our vitamin D levels. At least that's a good enough excuse for both of us. The sun also warmed up the house wonderfully, The boiler hardly ran at all, although the temperature got up to 74º or so in the office. For most of the year, I really appreciate the free solar heat!


I will also note in passing that there were footprints under the bathroom window again this morning. I'm pretty sure they weren't there yesterday. When I noticed them, they were too melted to tell for sure what they were, but they looked round, like the last cat tracks I saw. So I guess he's back, whatever he is.


I didn't go out until dinnertime, and the road is getting rather mushy. The paved roads are nearly dry, but there was a lake lined with ice in front of Mariner tonight, really ugly. I may have to start wearing boots just to keep my feet dry!


All this warm, sunny weather is supposed to last through about tomorrow afternoon, then it looks like we may really get back to winter again. Since it's only the end of January, I hope we do. Woodland road either needs to melt completely or get a new coating of snow or it will be really ugly, and there a lot of snowmobilers and skiers with reservations over the next two months, and my friends need the business.


It sure has been nice to see the sun, though.


As a nice little ending, my sneakers finally came today, and they are the right ones, and the right size, although I haven't tried them on yet. I have my fingers crossed. If they fit all right, I think I'm going to order another pair, just in case.


When I came from dinner, Saturn was shining in the east, and I think I might have caught a glimpse of Sirius down in the south...unless I was seeing things. So there will be starshine in the field tonight.


January 26

It was after midnight when I wrote last night's entry, and I fiddled around for quite a while after that and ended up not getting to bed until 2:30. Not exactly what I intended, but oh, well. I was awake a couple of times before dawn, and the sky had stars in it - the first time in quite a while that I could really see Polaris out the bathroom window.


Obviously, I didn't get an early start this morning. I simply cannot exist on less than about 8 hours' sleep, and that was about what I got. I felt pretty groggy when I got up, but this was the go-to-town day, so go to town I did. I didn't leave the house until after noon, but I went.


The covered road was covered with a layer of packed snow and/or ice, just like it is between here and Copper Harbor, but when I reached the 55 mph sign, they had been salting, and the rest of my trip down was on damp but clear roads. It was clear that they've also been spreading sand, and from Mohawk south, the snow was really dirty. They have been cutting back the banks in Mohawk and some of the other towns south of there, where the houses are right beside the road. The banks are awesome - five or more feet high, and this hasn't been a big snow year. The way some of those happy householders do their plowing, I think they're retarded kids who enjoy building snow forts. Anywhere there is a parking lot, they are obviously using end loaders, because those piles were 12' or more high, and  they didn't look like they were made by blowers.


I guess I haven't mentioned one thing I am enjoying most about driving around here in winter: it's just beautiful! Woodland Road is about the best, of course, because it it's beautiful at any season, but the drive down to Mohawk was just as beautiful. The evergreens look almost black against the snow, just like the bare deciduous trees, and some trees have piles of snow on some of their branches, or in the crotch, or along a branch. There is more than 12" of snow on the tops of the stone fence at the Mountain lodge. 


Both Keweenaw and Houghton counties (or whoever is doing it) are taking good care of US-41, and they have cut back the banks to the edges of the shoulders. Even on the covered road they've done that, and I do wonder where they've been putting the snow!


So eventually I made it to Houghton. There wasn't much traffic, and even though I took it easy on the covered road, I got there in about an hour. I had feared there might be tons of people in town today because of the weather, but either they were earlier than I was or they didn't come, because there really weren't very many people there.


So I did Wal-Mart and got my light bulbs and a wash basket for Buster, as well as a bunch of other things. I succumbed and bought one of their fleece throw kits, mainly because the print side is printed with pink ribbons - the breast cancer symbol. I saw some of these before I left, and I was tempted, because they are the throws that you just fringe the edges of both pieces of fleece, then tie the corresponding fringes of the two pieces together. See? When I bought that rotary cutter five years ago, I knew I'd find a use for it!


There was also a piece of heavy pale pink fleece, and I've been thinking I want a pink fleece overshirt. Now I can have one.


Oh, yes, and when I found the wash baskets, right beside them was a two-step plastic folding stool that will hold 300 lbs. I've been thinking I'd like one of those, but the ones in the catalogs are expensive, and this one wasn't. So now I can replace my light bulbs without hauling the ladder up from the basement.


I almost got Buster a cat tree, but it is a tension pole, and I would want to put it in the great room, with its 2½ story ceilings, and there isn't anyplace to put the pole. Too bad. I'll have to hit the catalogs. I know he would love to sit up at the top of one of the windows and look out from there. He likes to be high.


Even though I only did what I needed to do, I was sweating and tired by the time I got out of Wal-Mart. I think they keep that store much too warm...I think I've said that before. I even took off my jacket when I went in, just because I know it's hot in there. So I trundled off to Ming Gardens for lunch.


I was also thirsty, because I had only had my orange juice for breakfast, but after drinking water and tea and eating my soup, an egg roll and two crab rangoons, when I got the rest of my lunch, I wasn't hungry at all and I didn't eat much of it. I hate to waste good food, but I wasn't going to stuff myself, either. Really strange. I did get a while to rest, though.


Then it was off to Econo Foods, and oh, my, was that an order! However, I do have enough food to last me several weeks, which is good. I got two packages of beef country ribs, pork chops, ground round, and a little whole chicken. They are selling chicken that they claim is organic - no pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics. 'Sall right with me. So I will have a nice roast chicken Sunday, my way - stuffed with celery, onion and garlic. I think I will cook up my squash, which has been sitting out in the breezeway forever. That sounds like a nice Sunday dinner to me.


Anyway, I also laid in a lot of frozen dinners, just for contingencies. Breakfast may be a problem again, but maybe I can figure something out.


With everything I needed, my basket was overflowing, and I was totally exhausted by the time I checked out, but Econo has a package pickup, and a nice young man essentially loaded the car for me, which I really appreciated very much.


Because then I had to feed the car. Gas was $2.34, which is up from when I came back, but not much. My only complaint was that there is something defective about the nozzle at the pump I chose, and I got gas all over the side of the car, both when I was putting the nozzle into the tank and when I took it out. Drat.


It was so messy that I didn't even think about stopping at the car wash, but I will certainly have to do that the next time I go to town, and in the meantime I am going to have to wash off the back window, which is only transparent where the wiper was. The rest is almost opaque. There is a very thick coating of salt all over the sides, not to mention that gas...


By the time I finished all that, it was 5:00, and while there were a few cars lined up to cross the bridge, there wasn't much traffic, and I didn't meet anybody north of Mohawk. I pulled into the garage at 6:00, but I didn't unload the food until nearly 9:00, when I was getting a bit hungry.


One of the things I found at Econo Foods was a nice veggie tray, nicer even than the Food Emporium's, because it has cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas as well as the rest of the veggies on it. The Food Emporium's dill dip is better, but this one has a ranch dip that isn't bad. So dinner consisted of a TV dinner and some of my veggie tray. 


Tomorrow I will have to get the rest of the stuff out of the car, including 85 lbs of birdseed, but I am too tired and my feet hurt too much to do it tonight.


It was a perfectly gorgeous day, and I wish I could have just stayed here and watched it. The sky was clear all day long, and the temperature here got up to 36º. There was a rather brisk wind, but it was from the southwest. I wished I hadn't been going in the wrong direction when the sun set (or that I'd been here) because it looked really nice. I'm sorry it got so warm, but I was not sorry about the sunshine! I really don't think we lost much snow, except on the main roads. I did encounter a few snowmobilers crossing the road, especially on the way back, and while I didn't inspect closely, all the trails I crossed looked pretty good. No mud.


Even up here, where there is lots of traffic the snow gets really black after a while, and where they had cut back the banks, it looked like sedimentary rock, of different shades of gray. So it's pretty ugly from Mohawk south. Up here at the north end of Keweenaw, the snow is still mostly white, and it really is pretty. It has covered up some not-so-pretty things, too, and softened the mine tailings. Some of the piles and drifts are awesome, and you have to be careful at all cross streets, because cars have to stick their front ends out into the road in order to see around the corners. Going through the woods, I saw any number of downed trees with 15" of snow on their trunks. It was really neat.


I like it here. I like snow. This is my place.


So now it is midnight again, and I am going to bed and sleep for a long time, although I may peer outside and see if I can see Orion...


January 25

This will be short, because it's late, and I do have to go to town tomorrow.


It turned out to be a very social day for me today. The ladies' sewing circle was this afternoon, and it was very well attended and I met some more peoplej, and enjoyed myself. I also got the blue sweater ready to work the bottom edging (although I may end up tearing out some, because it seems to be awfully long). They are all pleasant ladies, and they all love it here just as much as I do. 


Then Chip and Nancy invited me to dinner, which was delightful, and we talked for a long time. They have to leave on Saturday, so I was happy to get to spend some time with them.


The weather was rather nice, with some sunshine amidst the clouds, and not more than a few snowflakes. The temperature was around 25º, and the wind began to die down in earnest around 11:00, and is now around 13 mph, still out of the north.


I did get my home equity application put together and dropped off with Shirley for the UPS people. In the summertime, UPS is very convenient for me, and I prefer to use it, but in the winter, it's a real pain, since there is no way a UPS truck could get down the road or back up it. But oh, well, that's done.


And that is about all I know, and it's time to trundle up to the north end and collapse.


January 24

It's been a wild and hairy day in the field, that's for sure! 


I didn't get to bed early, but i did sleep. The lake was singing quietly in the background, and that certainly helped. It didn't seem to be snowing overnight, but I was only up a couple of times, so I can't say for sure, but when I finally rolled out of bed at 10:30 it was. I didn't want to get up, but I had to walk anyway, so, oh, well.


It was snowing and blowing pretty good already at that time, and sometime earlier the wind had shifted around to the north, and it was beginning to blow. It's been like that all day long, snowing and blowing, and the lake is howling. We seem to have hit the max around 7:00, with 38 mph winds and gusts to 48 mph. That's a gale, folks - a strong gale.


Here where I am, it's mostly just noise and some interesting windblown snowdrifts. It has been snowing lightly all day, but I really don't think there was much accumulation. Frequently we couldn't see beyond the end of Lighthouse Point, but when it really snows hard, you can't see beyond the deck railing. So light snow.


I ended up having to go out, because there was a package from UPS at Shirley's that I needed, so I went to the post office, too. The road was good, with not much drifting, but in town there was almost a white-out while I was there. The wind swirls around the buildings, and at the post office it blew the car door shut (fortunately, my leg was inside at the time!) and at the  motel, it blew it open! I was just as glad to get home, although the temperature was in the upper 20s at the time, so if I stayed out of the wind, it wasn't all that bad.


Otherwise, I finished up the wash, and did not much else except sign my name a couple dozen times to the application documents for my home equity loan. I also spent quite a while on the phone on hold with Trans Union, trying to find out why their website said they already knew me but they wouldn't let me sign in. I didn't find out, and all I can say is, beware the credit reporting companies! Their computers are so screwed up it doesn't surprise me they screw up people's credit reports, too. One of them said they had no recent credit card data, and the other one said I have too many credit cards (total three!!?). I did manage to get somebody to send me my current credit reports, but I have the feeling I will have to get the originals from each company in order to try to straighten things out. I believe I went through this same thing about three years ago when I got my present mortgage, and I'm getting tired of it. Those people should certainly have their systems under better control than that!


So I decided that merited a double JD, and I will save the rest of my wine for tomorrow.


I might add that TransUnion's hold music was Mozart and Beethoven, which was nice, and would have been even nicer if the reproduction had been better. I was also more glad than I can say to have my telephone headset, so I didn't have a sore ear and sore elbow and I could do something else while I was waiting.


So that is another day in the field, and the lake is howling loudly on a wild and wintry night.


January 23

Today would have been my parents' 66th wedding anniversary. I always at least try to note it, since otherwise I wouldn't be here.


I read until after 1:00 last night. I know I've read that story any number of times, but I was at a part that I like a lot, and I just kept going until my eyes started crossing. So I got to bed very late, and  got up very late. Oh, well.


It was actually a rather pretty day today. The sky wasn't perfectly clear, but we had a lot of sunshine. Buster was quite content, especially after I laid out a paper with catnip on it, right in the sunshine. He didn't go crazy, but he sat and soaked up the rays and inhaled his fix for a very long time. The temperature got just barely over freezing for a little while, and there was a moderate wind, mostly out of the southwest. The wind is now shifting toward the west, and there is a winter storm advisory out for the next 36 hours or so.


Rats. I was going to town tomorrow. I guess I'll just have to wait and see how things are. Wednesday is the ladies' sewing circle, which I would like to attend, and its possible my humidifier may be installed on Thursday. I guess if I can't go tomorrow, I'll just have to play it by ear and go Thursday if nobody comes here. I can't go next Tuesday, because the builder is coming to talk about finishing the basement, amongst other things. And I'm finally getting low on orange juice. Everything always happens all at once, doesn't it?


For some reason, even though I was late last night and I was tired, I didn't sleep very well, so I will try to get it a little earlier tonight.


I did start doing a little wash today, and I got two loads done. I still have the white stuff (underwear, mostly) and fleece to do, so if I don't go to town tomorrow, I can finish that. I actually haven't worn much except a lot of underwear, but I like to try to clean up the water a bit before I wash that, by doing other things.


I don't think I mentioned that the zone valve on my water heater seems to be stuck open, which is giving me hot water at over 160º...a little hotter than I could wish! When the plumber comes with the humidifier, he will look at that too. That temperature is actually dangerous, I think. I certainly can't put my hands in it to wash dishes without scalding myself (that's how I discovered the situation). Oh, well, it's always something...


The sunshine today got me thinking about the height of the sun over the horizon, and when I checked it, I discovered that it is only 23º high at noon (which occurs at 1:03 pm here). That's up from 19º on the solstice, but not much. At the summer solstice, it is 66º high, so we have a way to go. I will try to remember to notice when it moves out of view from the south windows when I am sitting there. Slowly the days are getting longer - about 2½ minutes a day now - but we have a ways to go.


I'm happy that the short days don't seem to bother me much, and it is so nice to see the sun every so often! There is ice in front of the house on the harbor now, but it is still very thin and being pushed into the shore by the wind. Not at all what I expected to see at this time of year!


So that was my quiet day, and I will have to take myself in hand and not read forever tonight, just in case I can get out tomorrow. Besides, I'm tired tonight.


January 22

Last night, I decided to have my second drink and read a while, so it was my usual hour when I got to bed, but I did sleep better, and I was up around 10:00, which was good. Since I didn't plan to go anywhere, I got into my sweats. And I actually had breakfast, although it gave me indigestion. Hmm.


After I ate, though, I got to thinking it might be nice to do something useful, so I paid a bunch of bills, which I will run to the post office tomorrow. Then I took myself in hand and completely reworked the "previous months" page of the website, so that it is formatted right and expandable. I've known for a couple of months that I was going to have to do that, and I didn't want to come up to February 1 and have to do it right then.  If anybody finds any broken links on that page, let me know. There was a lot of repetitive drudge work, and I'm not very good at that. Then I looked at my ledger, and created the blank one for 2006, but I didn't really feel like getting into that, and besides, by then it was getting dark.


It was a dreary, dull day, but there wasn't any snow or much wind. The temperature got up to 32º for a while, but it didn't get any higher, and there is still ice on the harbor. I suppose the snow softened up somewhat, but I don't think there was any melting except off the eaves.


Once I could turn the lights on, I read some more and knitted. Back in December, I think I mentioned the afghan kit that I had left at Champine, and I thought I had not left any needles with it. Well, it turns out that I did - they were in the page protector with the directions. I should have looked, I guess. Anyway, I have all the size 8s I could possibly ever use here, so I am working on a square and planning how I am going to change the pattern once I get the initial squares done. There is too much sewing in the original, and besides, I've decided I don't really like the way the colors are placed. I hardly ever knit anything from a pattern without making some changes. It's an interesting magic square thing in rose, purple and green with black. That sounds pretty garish, but the yarns are actually rather muted, heathered colors, and I think it will be pretty. It is actually shaped more like a shawl, 60" x 30", and a series of interlocking diamonds. It's one of those things that I'm not sure what I'll do with, but it's fun to make.


So it was a nice, quiet day, and in a while I will toddle off to the north end.


January 21

So last night I started looking at a catalog, and I got to bed at my usual time and slept for almost 12 hours. i took a throat lozenge when I went to bed, and that seemed to fix my scratch throat. I was thinking maybe it was the dryness that was causing my problem, but when I got into the house just now, I started sneezing again. I think I am fighting it.


So I didn't do much except go to the post office and try to make a little sense of my desk, which I didn't. However, I did find a few missing bills, and now with what came today, I have most of the month end bills in hand. Of course, there were more catalogs and more magazines, too, so now I have more to keep me busy and not doing anything creative or chore-like.


I only got up when I did because the sun was shining, and it was at least partly sunny for most of the afternoon. The sun set into a cloud bank, however, and there is more snow on the way. There were some really interesting clouds late in the afternoon, with wisps going in different directions, but unfortunately they were too delicate for the camera to pick up and I was on the phone. It was neat to see. The temperature was around 20º all day, and while there was a 15 mph wind this morning, it died away in the afternoon and it is now calm.


There is some ice building on the harbor, but it is patchy and mostly floating and the wind will blow it all around. If it stays this cold and calm, though, there will be more, at last!


It was very nice to sit and soak up the rays, although for a while I was having a hard time seeing the computer screen. Buster moved out of the closet onto the window seat, and he was much more wakeful than usual today. He was bored. He wanted somebody to play with, and there wasn't anybody. So eventually he went back to sleep. Poor Buster.


I see that we now have more than 9 hours of daylight, but the sun is still so low in the sky that it shines in the south windows for about 4 hours when it is out. It will be quite a while before it doesn't shine on me, probably not until I get back from Detroit in May. 


So that was my quiet day, and it's clouding up again in the field.


January 20

I was late to bed last night, and I was restless all night long, for some reason, so I made up for it by sleeping until 11:00 this morning. It's so much nicer when I can get up at a semi-reasonable hour. The day really gets truncated when I'm so late getting up. I was up any number of times overnight, and once, about 2:00, there was a little moonshine on the snow. It was gone the next time, but Environment Canada was right about that one. They haven't been so accurate with the sky conditions lately, but I suspect that's because they have no way to predict the lake effect clouds, which affect our weather here in Copper Harbor very strongly.


I had an inkling of what my problem just might be late this afternoon, when all of a sudden I had a sneezing fit, and my throat feels a bit scratchy. I do hope I'm not coming down with a cold. I am starting this early tonight, with  the idea of getting to bed very early and maybe heading it off. 


When I looked at the humidifier, which was on my dresser, this morning, I discovered that after I turned it off last night, it leaked, and did a number on the finish on top of the dresser. Not that it was so great, but water on wood that doesn't have acrylic varnish doesn't go very well. Oh, dear. So the humidifier is now sitting on a folding table, where it should have been all along, frankly, and according to the plumber the central system should be installed sometime next week.


It snowed a little overnight last night, and it snowed some more this morning, but probably not more than an inch total. It was the usual dark, dreary day, with a temperature that hung in just below 30º. There were a couple of windy hours this morning that pushed all the ice down into the bay at this end of the harbor, and then the wind dropped to nearly zero. I just heard a gust outside, so it may be picking up again. There was enough snow on the trees that it wasn't possible to tell if it was snowing or the snow was just falling off the branches when I went to dinner tonight.


There was a glitch in the broadband today, but it didn't last very long, I don't think. For once, I seem to have been the first one to report it. I do wonder if some of the little hiccups we've had lately have to do with PastyNet moving their equipment to Kearsarge. It was a short blip, and nobody missed much when the camera wasn't updating.


Dinner was good, as usual. Mariner was pretty busy, and who should I see as soon as I came in but Chip and Nancy, who have just arrived. I'm glad they made it. I was going to say "so soon", but two-thirds of January is over. Time just glides by here, and I don't pay much attention to it. Anyway, it was good to see them, even though they were eating with somebody and I was eating with Shirley.


The continuing snow has kept the road in pretty good condition, and it makes walking ever so much easier. Somebody blew out the road today, although my driveway didn't need it. I guess out toward Ron's house and a couple of other places, the drifting is pretty bad. It does make me feel a bit better that it's not my drifts that they have to blow out, but their own. My turn will come, I'm sure.


So that was another quiet day, and maybe, just maybe, if I get to bed early, I can head off a nasty head cold.


January 19

I didn't make it to bed quite so early last night, nor will I tonight, but I turned out the light before 11:00, which was good. however, I didn't get up until after 10:00 this morning. I was wakeful, with a new pain - in my right hip. I've suspected for some time that I had (or was developing) arthritis in my hips, and I guess so.


Anyway, I missed the snowplow, so I didn't have to help move snow, and there is kind of a hump in front of my garage door. Maybe tomorrow.


It didn't snow much overnight, but it did this morning, a bit. Then it lightened up a lot, and the wind was calm, and it was  a pretty nice day. The temperature was around 20º until noon, then it went up to about 25º. One consequence of living right on the shore of the big lake, as I've observed before, is that there is normally less deviation in the temperature over the course of the day.


The below-freezing temps and calm winds have resulted in a glaze of ice over parts of this end of the harbor. It's probably not more than a quarter inch thick, and it's spotty, but it's there. A stiff wind or a warmer temperature will make it go away, but for the time being, we have a little ice.


After it got dark tonight, it began snowing again, straight down, and lightly but steadily. 


The road was in fine shape today, after being blown out to smooth out the new snow. Not many bumps and no really slick spots. A 15 mph day, at least going. Coming back, I went a tad slower, just because I don't trust that hill. And walking around the post office was much better, even though Clyde hadn't shoveled. Snow has some resistance to it, sort of like sand and not like ice at all. Surprisingly enough, I seem to be walking all right lately.


I did pay a couple of bills and I got to the post office, where there was another pile of new catalogs and magazines and more bills...and pills. 


We changed prescription administrators this year, and when I set up my online account, i discovered that I could get the last refill of my prescriptions, so I grabbed them. It cost me, because they've changed the rules for brand name drugs, especially those not in their preferred list, from a flat fee to a percentage. Fortunately, that was my allergy meds, which I discovered last year is a combination of two over-the-counter drugs. I did get the last refill, and I probably have enough to last the summer, but after that I will be poking around trying to find chlortrimaton and sudafed in the strengths I need. Everything else I get is a generic, and pretty cheap.


There are still dozens of snowmobiles in town, apparently in big groups, from the way they were parked around Mariner. If there was one guy per sled, and they were al inside, the place was jumping at 3:00 this afternoon.


I was also happy to see that Polaris makes a sled that comes in blue, so that when I break down and get mine, I won't have to have yellow or neon red or poison green! Not that I plan to match my outfit to the sled, like a lot of the guys do, but if I have to look at it, I want it to be a color I like.


On the subject of clothing, while some of the riders seem to be color coordinated, especially in their helmets, I have noticed a lot of them wearing two or three brand names on their clothes...Arctic Cat pants, Yahama jackets, etc. Apparently Yahama sells a really good jacket, or maybe just cheap, because I've seen a lot of them. I don't wear any logos on my clothes except my own, or Copper Harbor. I'm just a contraraian, I guess.


So that was about all I did. I spent some time reading, starting my February Sky & Telescope, and while I ate dinner (a little steak), I looked through my new jewelery catalog. Fortunately, I didn't see anything there I have to have, but I do have lots of ideas, all of which, of course, require me to buy more supplies. Oh, dear.


And now it's time to trundle up to the north end and call it a quiet, snowy night.


January 18

Well! I actually did it! I was in bed, with the light turned out, at 10:30 last night! It took me a few minutes to get to sleep, unaccustomed as I am to going to bed at that hour, but it didn't interfere with the rest of the night. I was up several times, of course, enough to notice that it wasn't snowing until sometime after 6:00. However, when I got up at 9:00, it definitely was snowing and blowing both. So I got nearly enough sleep, and got up at a more or less reasonable hour.


A quick check of conditions said that the temperature was in the low 20s and the wind was in the 20-35 mph range. All day long, periodic lake effect squalls would come in from a wind which was from the northwest. The wind chill was unspeakable, and I didn't go out.


At around 10:00 my snow remover appeared, and he is a nice young man with, I think a little more ambition than most of the guys around here. While he loves to hunt and fish (although he doesn't eat deer or fish), he wants to do something, anything right now, to make a buck, and he is actually very modest with his bills. 


So I now have a relatively clear deck and a person I can call and ask to do some of the chores around here that need doing and will need doing. We spent a long time talking, and he is a nice person, not the smartest I've ever met, but very nice.


Not much else happened, except that we watched the squalls come through all day long. It is too windy for me to have any idea how much snow fell, but it has to be 3" or more. There were whitecaps on the harbor all day, too, and at times it was quite dramatic out there, with the snow and the wind and the waves.


Buster was, of course, nowhere to be found, even though Walt was here for quite a while and we were talking quietly and laughing a lot. He is just very shy about new men.


Oh, yes. The computer got screwed up this morning and updates of the camera page were spotty until I rebooted. I don't have a clue what the problem was, but programs sometimes don't load right. 


Also, I won my two plates, and they should be arriving in a few days, so that turned out all right. Somebody had a platter and a serving bowl in my pattern, too, but dummy that I am, I didn't bid on them, and they are now gone. I hope they'll come back, because I don't have much in serving dishes. I only brought one small melamine platter up here, and all of my melamine serving bowls got broken (yup - melamine breaks, too, under the right circumstances). Well, I'll continue looking.


So now I am tired, and if I want to get to bed at 10:30 tonight, I'm going to have to go some. It is dark and snowy in the field tonight, and I'm glad to see it.


January 17

After I posted last night's entry, I went to put away the leftovers of my dinner. Somehow, a cereal bowl I had left on the counter got tangled up with the lid of the casserole and crashed onto the floor in a million pieces. I didn't know Corelle was so easy to break - in fact, I didn't think it was breakable. So I grabbed the broom and began to sweep up the pieces, trying to be very careful to get everything. Of course, right after I started, Buster came dancing through the kitchen, right through all the pieces.


Snot cat. He would have run when the dish dropped, but since he wasn't there, he just had to find out what was going on! I don't think he stepped on any pieces of glass, but he easily could have. So I swept up everything I could find, and the kitchen floor is now somewhat cleaner than it was yesterday.


Then I got to thinking about having broken one of my cereal bowls, so I got back on the internet and went looking for Corelle Old Town Blue. I found some, but then I remembered that couple of years ago, I had realized that my mother's Corelle, which is plain white, was missing one dinner plate. I almost replaced it then, but for some reason I didn't.


Well...I found my Corelle on EBay. Replacements for Old Town Blue are available elsewhere, but replacements for Just White aren't, and I'm not sure that the newer plain white pieces are the same. Sooo...the only place I could find both patterns was on EBay. It looks like I will end up getting my two pieces of Corelle for 99¢ - plus about $5 in shipping and handling. Since both pieces are being offered by the same guy, I am hoping I can get him to ship them together for one shipping and handling charge. Stay tuned. The auction isn't over until tomorrow. This is the first time I've bid on anything in any auction anywhere, and I'm not quite sure how to act. However, nobody else is bidding, so I think I'm the winner.


However, then I was on EBay. So I started looking around and ended up in collectible sewing items...wow! Along about 2:00, I was having a hard time seeing the words on the screen, so I finally gave up and went to bed. That place is evil. It sucks you in.


Fortunately, all the items I found interesting were being bid on by a number of people and the prices were too high, or they were offered by somebody in Argentina...But it was interesting. I can't say I actually collect antique sewing tools, although I do have a small collection of things I've inherited, but I think I'd like to.


I mentioned that it was snowing when it got dark, and it snowed pretty much all night, although not heavily. I think there was probably 4" or 5" on the ground , but in spite of the wind not being very strong, there were some 12" drifts in the usual places - in front of the garage door and in front of the office slider.


I was up around 10:30, again because I had to walk, and I ended up doing some snow shoveling. Mac came by with the tractor around noon, and I helped him push the snow away from the garage door, then I moved some of the snow off the deck in front of the slider, because the bird feeders were empty. That was on an empty stomach.


I had to go to the post office, and the road was actually in better condition than it's been for a week, since the snow filled in all the ruts, and even packed snow isn't as slippery as ice. There were dozens of snowmobiles in town. At 2:55 there weren't all that many at Mariner, but 10 minutes later, when I went back in the other direction, the parking lot was packed with them. Evidently all the groups got there while I was at the post office. It's so good to see that!


Well, I came back and decided that the front porch needed to be shoveled, and that was a mistake. There was about 8" on the porch, and it was heavy. I didn't do a really good job, especially at the bottom of the steps. And when I came in and sat down, there was a little tightness in my chest...Always believe the doctor, Shari. I'm fine now, by the way.


So I called the guy who was recommended to me for odd jobs, and he is coming tomorrow to do the deck, and finish what I didn't on the front steps. Ron might get it done, but it's getting heavier and heavier and deeper and deeper, and he is just a little guy. I hope this works out. 


Buster was amusing. He was sitting on my lap when Mac arrived, but he hadn't ever heard the tractor before. He took off toward the basement, but halfway down the great room, he had to rear up on his hind legs and see what that was. He was right, it was a guy in work boots, so he beat it, even though Mac didn't come near the house! Funny little cat.


So now I am really tired, and I have to get up at a really reasonable hour tomorrow, and tonight, I promise, I'm not going to get tangled up in the internet or games or reading or knitting or anything else.


It didn't snow after I got up this morning, but they are predicting more for tonight and there is snow in the forecasts for the next week or more, so maybe, just maybe, our January drought is over. It's still a lot warmer than it ought to be, but I guess I'm not going to complain too much about that so long as it stays below freezing.


So it's a good winter night to hunker down and sleep long and hard. I think I will.


January 16

Well, I didn't want to get out of bed this morning (at 10:30) but I had to walk anyway, so I did. As I was lying in bed trying to pretend I didn't have to get up, my neighbor's two young black labs came galloping through the yard. They are very handsome dogs, each wearing a red collar, but I do wish they would stay out of my yard. I am beginning to wonder if there is an "animal lover" sign on my doors? All the local dogs end up here when they get loose.


Anyway, that was about the extent of the excitement for the day. We didn't have any new snow overnight, so there is around 2" of new on the ground, but there was a squall right before sunset, and they are predicting more for overnight and tomorrow. I do hope so.


The bobcat didn't come back, but after comparing the dog tracks with his, I am even more certain that it was in fact a bobcat.


I did some reading and some knitting and some usual diddling around, and that was it. A nice, quiet day like I like it. There was a short glitch in the broadband, for maybe half an hour, but that enabled me to move my latest program to the laptop and run it there. This one isn't a game, it's called PC Pitstop, and it does all sorts of cleaning up and tuning. I think it has helped my internet connection a lot by setting a bunch of parameters that are usually defaulted. It also cleaned out a ton of real garbage that had gotten into the registry on this computer, which is good. I was surprised that the laptop was actually in better shape than this one, since I've had it longer and done more different things with it. I have used this one more, though. Anyway, that was a good thing to have done.


I also cooked tonight, one of my fast chicken recipes with rice that I enjoy. That still needs to be put away, so it looks like I'll be late tonight again. Oh, well...


January 15

It turned out that, as usual, I got to bed around midnight. I got to writing something that won't ever be part of the online journal, and that took a while, and then I sat staring at the floor for a while. However, once I got to bed, I did sleep well, although I had a bed partner all night, and I got a bit upset when he started rustling around and stuck his claws into my chest. After that I wouldn't let him sleep under the covers, so he curled up on top.


We arose about 10:30, I think (maybe it was 11:30? I don't remember now) and since I wasn't planning to go anywhere, I relaxed in my sweats, which are sooo comfortable. I didn't have to cook, since I had dinner left from last night.


It apparently started snowing sometime after midnight, lightly, and it continued all day until not long before sunset. We now have 2" or 3" of new snow on the ground, and the forecast looks hopeful for next week. It isn't going to be very cold, but there is snow in the forecast every day. That will be good.


So I diddled around as usual, and read some more catalogs. I did begin unpacking the Craftstor, although I didn't get very far, because I have to figure out someplace to put the stuff I take out of it. I located most of the remnants for my nightgown patching project. I'm slowly working toward that, but I have several steps to go - clear off the counter around the sewing machine, oil the machine, and things like that. I'll get to it.


After dinner, I called Debbie to find out how she's doing, and I think we talked for about three hours, pretty normal for us. While we were talking, I was knitting on the blue sweater, and I now have only ten rows plus the edging to do.


So tomorrow will be a sort of quiet day, because of the official holiday, but I think i will try to get to bed at a reasonable hour anyway. It's a dark and cloudy night in the field tonight.


January 14

At least I got to bed before midnight last night, and I slept exceptionally well until about 7:30 when my sinuses started draining. So I took a cough drop and went back to sleep. It was light last night, so the clouds weren't very thick, but it was a cloudy night and a cloudy day. The wind died down overnight, too, so the lake has gone silent. The temperature has dropped from 25º overnight to about 20º now, and the wind is nearly calm. When I came outside after dinner, the moon, which is full today, was visible through the clouds, rising in the east.


I did get up early enough to have a nice breakfast at a reasonable hour for a change, but I can't say that I did much. I finally brought the Craftstor that I packed with new stuff to bring here into the office. I haven't looked in it yet, but it's sort of like Christmas - I can't remember what I put in it. Tomorrow. I am still working my way through all the magazines and catalogs that came the first week of January, and I'm not through with that by a long shot. The mail isn't as interesting now. Today's had only bills and pleas for money.


Dinner was good again, and Mariner was jumping, nearly packed with guys in snowmobile gear. They were a cheerful but not rowdy bunch, and just about the time the first groups left, a new couple of large groups came. Both Shirley and Donny looked pretty cheerful, although Shirley doesn't have many rooms rented. From one nice guy we talked to, I get the idea that maybe a lot of them don't realize there are places to stay in Copper Harbor. You don't have to stay in Houghton. 


Shirley is having some trouble with her website, and maybe that is part of the problem.


The only thing I found discouraging is that a lot of the guys were smokers. I thought we were getting over that? I know more people in the UP smoke than in more civilized places, but most of these guys looked pretty civilized to me. Both my parents smoked, but I've gotten used to being without that since my mother died, and the smoke gets in my nose and bothers me (says she, sneezing). And I suppose most of these young guys will continue until their doctors tell them they are ripe for a heart attack and scare the wits out of them. Too bad.


Anyway, it was nice to see so many people in town, and Zik's has a band tonight, so I was just as glad to get out when I did.


I will mention that walking is a severe trial. Everyplace that there was snow or slush is frozen solid, and in spots it's very slippery. I have always been cautious on ice, and with my legs in the condition they are now, I tend to take teensy baby steps very slowly. I've been toying with the idea of getting some of those strap-on cleats, but that poses a problem, too - putting them on, taking them off, and keeping track of them. It might make me feel more comfortable on my feet, though.


So now Buster has finally awakened and come to get petted, and it's time to call it a day. I had hoped for some snow today, but, well...


January 13

The reason I don't do much reading should be apparent. I started dipping into my book on animal tracks and tracking and ended up not getting to bed until after 3:00! And I got a phone call at 8:30! I finally rolled out at 11:30, but I wasn't good for much .


By the time I finally got to bed, the lake was singing loudly, and I could hear the wind occasionally, but it was very cloudy and dark. It was very cloudy and dark for most of the day, too, with a temperature that hung in right around 30º and a north wind in the 20-30 mph range. There were even a few whitecaps on the harbor, and breakers on my beach. It was cold out, but the lake is still singing its north-wind song.


Just as I started out for dinner, a few flakes started to come down, finally, and US-41 had a dusting of snow on it when I came home. 


Dinner was nice, with Shirley, served by Cindy, and we were all heartened to see a lot of people in the place. I was hoping there would be, with Monday being an official holiday. It was also interesting to see one guy in bibs who had to weigh at least 300 pounds. Made me feel better about dreaming about having a snowmobile...if one would hold him, one will hold me. I don't weigh that much. 2X bibs wouldn't fit him, either. Most of the guys who come in from their machines look pretty young and fit, so it's nice to see a few older ones and out-of-shape ones, too.


When I came home, the moon, which is full tomorrow, was shining through the clouds, so our snow was clearly a lake-effect event, and they are saying it will continue tomorrow, at least.


Woodland Road is rather interesting, I must say. It was cold enough today that all the mushy snow froze, and it was icy. So far the truck hasn't had any trouble with the hills, I'm glad to say. My worst problem is side-slipping into the ruts left by other cars when it was melted. That is a feeling I just do not like, even though I haven't lost control of the rear end lately. It was certainly an under-t0 mph day, for sure, especially coming down that steep grade to the culverts...start 'way over to the right at the top to make the curve, then keep as far to the left as possible going down, to avoid sliding into Lake Lily! And keep your foot on the brake, to prevent the car from going more than 5-6 mph! Then you'll wriggle a bit right at the bottom when you hit the ruts. Isn't it fun?


And that is about all I have to report, except that I am going to bed early tonight and I expect to sleep for a long time. There is a little moonshine and a little noise in the field tonight.


January 12

It was actually cloudy for most of the night last night, but the moon was so bright that it not only illuminated the clouds, it brightened the snow and it was so light in the house that I could walk around and see the cat.  It reminded me of those couple of nights when the northern lights went crazy.


I got to bed late, but for some reason my mind was going in circles, so I didn't sleep very well, and I was up several times. I got up early for me - around 9:30!


That was just as well, because the plumber arrived at about 10:30. It seems there is an overflow tank (or I think that's what it is) in the circulation system, and it had stopped working correctly and filled up with fluid - a couple of gallons worth - and the reason the pump was vibrating is that there wasn't enough fluid in the pipes. The valves I opened filled the system with water, which solved the pump problem, but it isn't a really good idea, because it can dilute the antifreeze and, if there was a long enough power failure, freeze the entire system - yie! The tank was evidently leaking, too, because there was some wetness on the floor behind the boiler. So now I have a new overflow tank, five gallons of new antifreeze, and I'm poor. My plumber is a good one, but he isn't cheap. However, since he installed the system, and it is a complicated one (six zones, and all pipes under the floors), I figure in the long run it's cheaper to just call him.


He also gave me a price on a central humidifier, and while it's expensive, I think I'm going to go ahead with it. The humidity in the office was 19% last night before it warmed up, and that is just too low for comfort. I haven't zapped the cat yet, but I have had trouble with my nose, and this is only January.


I did make it to the post office, and the change of address is now in full force, thankfully, and later on Ron came and chipped away at the porch a bit. I would have helped him if I hadn't spent most of the morning on my feet.


It was cloudy and nondescript, but the temperature got up to almost 40º, so it was actually rather nice outside. The snow on the porch is very spongy and soft, and it's not as hard to move around as it was for a while there.


So that was most of my day. The only exciting thing I have to report is that I think we have a bobcat. There are paw prints all around my house and in the snow, including one nice one on the front porch this morning. They do not look like dog tracks - they look like cat tracks - but they are 2½" - 3" wide. And there are tracks in the deep snow where he dragged his feet that look just like the pictures in my book on tracking. If Buster knows he's there, he is big enough to intimidate the little black fellow. Buster really sounds off at the sight of other housecats, even if they're bigger than he is, but a bobcat is enough bigger that I don't suppose he'd want it to know he was watching. Or he might not know. He has been sleeping a lot, and a bobcat would be really quiet.


It has been really interested in the cedar north of the house, and I wonder if maybe some small critters stay under it at night. Most of the really clear tracks this morning were under the bathroom window. The heat from the house melts the snow around it, and a lot of critters, from mice and shrews to whatever  my visitor is, prefer to walk on the stones rather than in the deep snow.


My goodness, how I wish I could see him! He was all over the place, and I think it was mostly last night or early this morning, but it would be just pure dumb luck that I should ever look outside when he was there. I don't, by the way, think it is a lynx - the prints aren't quite that large, and particularly when it was crossing the snow, it seems clear it isn't a really big thing. Bigger than a housecat, but not huge.


I think my house is on its normal path, because I also saw the prints before the last snow and wondered what they were.


So that is all the excitement in the field, and it's late again.


January 11

I think I was a bit earlier to bed last night, but I don't really remember. The moon did shine in the window for a while around 3:00, but it set in a cloudbank, although I could still see Regulus up in the sky. And it wasn't so clear today. There were a couple of rays of sunshine, but along about 1:30 we had a couple of lake effect snow squalls. No accumulation, but that wasn't predicted either. It didn't get as warm as they thought, either, so that was good. The temperature topped out at around 34º late this afternoon and is now falling back. There were a few patches of clear sky at sunset, and after it got dark, when I went to get dinner, the moon was shining in the east windows of the great room so brightly I didn't even need a light, amid some puffy white clouds.


My heating system is holding up, and the plumber is coming tomorrow to check it out and also teach me how to determine when it needs fluid and how to add fluid. Just because I'm female doesn't mean I can't do routine maintenance myself.


I guess I didn't do much today, except to try to make some sense out of the desk, which is a disaster. I have been knitting on the blue sweater, and I sat and watched the sun set over San Francisco, which was very nice. There is a camera on the UC-Berkeley campus that looks west over the bay (http://sv.berkeley.edu/view/index.html ), and they have been having clear afternoon skies and very nice sunsets lately. It's kind of fun to watch the sun set here (as much as I can see it behind the clouds) then go to that site later and watch it set again.


There was also one webcam picture this morning that shows a big lump in the lower right corner, which is me bending over to fill a couple of the feeders that had emptied out. The squirrels, especially, prefer some feeders to others. Bent over like that, I look sort of like a bear. It was only about 28º when went out, but there was no wind at all and it was really rather nice out. I would have wanted a coat if I'd been out much longer, but it really didn't feel too cold.


George Hite was reporting that the last sunshine before yesterday was in November, but according to my notes, the last sunny day was December 19. and the last day before that was November 22. So it has been a remarkably cloudy winter, especially considering how little snow we've had since the middle of December. I don't think I mentioned that the final total for December was 111". Wow. OF course, it isn't piled up that much, since it was mostly light, fluffy stuff and it packed down, but I suspect there is a good couple of feet in my backyard still, even with all the warm weather.


They are predicting a bit of precip tomorrow, hopefully snow and not drizzle, but John Dee isn't too hopeful that we'll get a real dumping very soon. Well, it isn't even the middle of January yet, and we have, at a minimum, 2½ months of winter weather left. We will have to go some to reach 300" this season, though. I was just looking back at the records, and December and January seem, in general, to be the heaviest months for snow, so if we don't do very well this month, there won't be any records. I just hope there's enough to keep my friends' businesses going.


See, I knew these ramblings would be of some use. I can go back and check to see what happened when, even if I don't have any numbers for snow totals. 


So now I've fiddled around enough that I won't be getting to bed any earlier tonight, and there is moonshine ion the snow n the field.


January 10

It was even worse last night, except that once I got to bed I did sleep. However, by the time I made it into bed, the moon, which is approaching full, was shining in the window, right on my pillow. As a result, no stars were visible until it set, around 4:30. I went back to sleep until around 6:30, and then, oh, my! It wasn't a super-clear night: I could only see Polaris and the two end stars in the Little Dipper from inside the house, but the western sky was full of bright stars. Capella set while I was watching, and (as I've discovered since: I had no idea what I was looking at then) Castor and Pollux were setting in the northwest, Procyon was in the west, and Regulus was on its way down. That's Auriga, Gemini, Canis Minor, and Leo. 


I was awake again just before sunrise (which is still after 8:30!) and the snow on the mountain was pink, the sky was perfectly clear, and the harbor was nearly calm. Oh, well, I thought, the camera will catch it. Ha! I should be so lucky! Just because it was the first clear morning in a very long time, when I rebooted last night, the camera got jacked up and showed a black screen until I finally got to the office and rebooted again around 11:30. Rats! Also my apologies to anyone who checked in early in the morning.


By then it was beginning to get a bit cloudy, but I did save the first camera shot of the year, just because it's been so long since there was anything worth looking at. Blue sky and blue water, my favorites!


It was cold overnight, but the temperature got up to about 35º this afternoon, with a brisk southwest wind. It did cloud up some late in the day, and I don't know how clear it is now. But that moon...


I did get to the post office today, and my new prescription card finally arrived, and yesterday two boxes came to King Copper...my vitamins and more candy. Yum. The first forwarded mail came through, too, so I guess that is taken care of, finally.


The road was good, surprisingly enough, but I don't know how well it will hold up in these mild temperatures and the sunshine, if we do indeed have some more tomorrow.


I spent some time with Shirley, and learned that we lost a snowmobiler last night. According to the paper, he missed a curve, was thrown from his machine and hit a tree. DOA. Apparently even his companions thought he was going too fast. That is the main reason I will probably never try to get a snowmobile. There are too many idiots, or guys who have spent too long in the bars, out on the trails going much too fast for the best of conditions, not to mention the middle of the night. But it really is a shame.


When I got home, there was a lot of noise coming from the furnace room, and when I went downstairs, it was a pump sort of thing that is close to the ceiling, and it was really vibrating. So I called the plumber. He called back a while later, and something is wrong with the heat, but we don't know what yet. I am probably down on fluid, but he is going to have to show me how to add it. It is working, sort of, so I will have heat overnight, but I expect to see him in the next day or so. to check things out. Oh, the joys of the happy householder...


So far, I haven't touched a needle of any kind all day, although I did begin reading some of the pile of magazines and catalogs that have arrived. I will be calling the plumber back around 9:30, and then we'll see. If he is coming tomorrow, I will go right to bed, but otherwise, I probably won't.


It was just so nice to sit in the sun, especially around noon when it was so bright, and it was nice to see blue water, too. I did notice some slush very close to the shore in front of the house, but there wasn't much of it and it wasn't very frozen. According to Shirley, there are still lakers going by, and apparently I just missed one this afternoon, going toward Duluth, which is rather surprising. However, if the lakes stay so ice-free, I imagine they will extend the season. It usually ends on January 15, I think. 


So it was a bright and sunny day in the field, and it might even be a clear night again.


January 9

Well, I did it again, although my hands were too sore to finish the sweater, but I read until midnight again. Then I jumped into bed and didn't sleep very well at all, for some reason. I was trying to figure out how to bead some little clusters from a necklace Shirley lent me, but that isn't any excuse. I just didn't sleep well until morning. So I was tired all day and I've been yawning all afternoon...and here it is 11:00 again, and I'm still at it.


I did finish the glove and the sweater today, so I can't say I did nothing. Now all i have to do is wash the sweater to get rid of the funny feel of the yarn. I've gone back to the blue merino sweater, which, being on 10½ needles, suddenly seems to go much faster after I was finished with the #8's. It's also nicer to work on, because the yarn is so nice and soft. I still have 30 or so rows to do, but I'll plug away at it, and it will get done...finally...too.


The wind was strong last night and there was about an inch of new snow on the deck this morning, but the temperature was around 30º all night - maybe that was why I didn't sleep good - but it began to drop off and the wind began to die down around noon, and it's now around 20º with a light southwest wind. What is exciting is that it has cleared up! We actually had a bit of a sunset tonight, about 5 minutes' worth, but after sunset, the clouds began to blow away, and a while ago I went to the powder room and the moon is sailing so high over the house that I can't see it and casting blue shadows on the snow. It seems to be mostly clear! I can't wait to get the lights off and see if I can see any stars! If I do, that will be the first time in about 3 months that I have! Whee!


I didn't go out again today, so I was comfy in my sweats again. Tomorrow I will have to go to the post office, and that means getting dressed. Oh, well.


So now I will read a bit more before I give it up for the night and hope to do a bit better than last night.


January 8

Well, this was a wasted day. Oh, well. I ended up staring at the floor for a long time before I took my bath last night, so I was late getting to bed and late getting up. I seem to need 10 hours' sleep a night, regardless of when I start. And it will be late tonight, too, because I've been reading, and I was knitting until my hands got sore. I have only a couple more rows to do on the old sweater, but it will take a while to complete, since it's more than 240 stitches around.


I also finished the index finger of the glove and started the thumb, which should be done tomorrow. Then I have to work in all the ends, and I will have a rather jazzy pair of nice merino wool gloves. As usual the hard part of that project was the ribbing...which is why it's taking so long to finish the sweater.


I was sitting in the bathroom knitting this morning when I looked out the window and saw something moving, and found I was looking at two ruffed grouse pecking around the weeds that poke through the snow. I won't say they were a pair, because one went off toward the lake and the other one, after perching on a dead tree limb that broke off and dumped it into the snow, flew off toward the back of my lot. They are a rather large bird, but I have to believe that anything with such a small head isn't too smart.


Some kind of bird flew into the back windows of the office this afternoon, which excited Buster no end, but I didn't see what it was. 


The weather was nondescript, cloudy, and 30-ish, with almost no wind. It's really remarkable to have calm winds in January. That doesn't happen too often.


There is no agreement amongst the weather forecasters about tomorrow. The Weather Underground says it's going to be cloudy and may snow, while Environment Canada claims there may be some sunshine, especially late in the afternoon. Stay tuned...it would be nice to see the sun for a change.


Since I wasn't planning to go out today, I broke out one of the pairs of sweat pants I found at the other house, and I was very comfy, thank you. It appears I've never washed this pair, which puzzles me, but probably I got them after I stopped wearing them when I had surgery, and then I never went back to them...to the extent that, when I went to U of M Hospital, I completely forgot I had them! My jeans are pretty comfortable, but the only thing better than sweat pants is nothing, and that can get chilly.


So I am comfy and sleepy, and I will probably just keep right on reading.


January 7

I was going to go to bed early, but I got to thinking about shoes, and halfway through trying to find the ones I want in the size I need, the computer hung up. After I fixed that...three tries...I had to go back and find my shoes again and order them. I have my fingers crossed. If the ones I'm wearing now, in 12W don't fit, or the one place doesn't have them, I'm not sure what I'll do. I used to love shoes, but this is getting ridiculous.


Anyway, I dropped into bed after midnight, and I was wakeful for a while in the early morning, so it was another truncated day. About all I did was to pack up the shoes and take them to the post office.


Someone had cleared the road, and although it was very nice of him, frankly, from the driving standpoint, I rather wish he hadn't. The snow has filled in a lot of the ruts, but it's down to bare ice in spots, which isn't the best for driving.


Late in the afternoon Ron came for about 45 minutes and chipped away at the deck, but the snow is there is getting pretty icy and it's hard work.


Oh, yes, I did finish the middle finger of the glove and started the index finger, so I'm making progress on that.


The weather wasn't very nice. the temperature was around 30º all day and there was a brisk wind from the north, which made it rather raw and chilly out.  We had maybe 3" of snow overnight, but there was none today. The forecasts are calling for freezing drizzle overnight - yuck!


So that's all there is, and maybe I can get to bed a tad earlier tonight, although I do want to do some reading. We shall see.


January 6  - The Epiphany of Our Lord

Now the Christmas season is officially over, and I hope you enjoyed yours thoroughly. I certainly did.


I ended up reading until nearly midnight last night, so I got to bed late and got up late, but there wasn't much to do. I did wash the sauté pan and put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. I wasn't very hungry, so my first meal of the day was cheese and crackers. Strange how I seem to be hungry one day and not the next.


I did make it to the post office, not that I got what I wanted, but I did get a load of stuff, and two pairs of shoes I will probably be sending back. I thought I was getting a bigger size of the Reeboks I have been wearing for quite a while, and it turned out that they were labeled wrong at the website. The ones I got run very, very narrow. So now I have to decide whether to try the next width, if they still have them. That was a disappointment, and rather critical, too, because I am fast running out of shoes that fit me at all...


It did snow some overnight, maybe an inch or two, and while I was visiting with Shirley, it started again, and it was going pretty good when I came home from dinner.


Dinner was good - ribs - and I brought half of it home with me. It was kind of fun, too, because Mariner was quite full of men in bibs...several groups of from four to eight snowmobilers in for the weekend. There were also a couple of groups of skiers, too, I think. One could almost tell: the snowmobilers drank beer and ate a lot, and the skiers ate salads. i was glad to see so many visitors in town.


When I came out, there was a good inch of new snow on my car, and it was clearly lake effect, because I looked up and could just make out the quarter moon through the clouds. Lake effect clouds are low and puffy and full of snow, while it may be almost clear above them. However, looking down the harbor now, it looks like it may have nearly stopped. I hope it picks up again overnight.


The snow has improved conditions on the road considerably, and I had no trouble getting out or in. There are some ruts that were made in the slush before it froze, but the new snow is helping to even those out. The only problem I had was that I ran into Ron in the culverts, and since he has only a 2WD truck, I had to back up the hill on the north side to let him by. That hill is not so steep as the one on the south side of Lake Lily, so I made it without much trouble, except that I missed the turn onto Lake Lily Road and hit a tree, gently enough that I didn't damage either the car or the tree. I'm pretty good at going backward, but there isn't much contrast in the snow, and I just turned too quickly the first time. 


We have pretty much agreed on two rules of the road for Woodland Road in the winter: the guy going up the hill has the right-of-way, and the guy in the 2WD vehicle has the right-of-way over the guys in the 4WD vehicles. In good weather, Woodland is not quite wide enough for two cars to pass safely. In most cases, one car has to pull partway off the road to let the other pass, and with the snow and the ruts in the surface, it has turned into a true one-lane trail. However, all three of us agree on the rules, and we do try to avoid times when we know other cars are likely to be out there. 


Ron was bringing Trevor home from his surgery today, and he was anxious to get home, so as a result he met both Mac and me going out to the post office. That'll teach him. When I came home, he had moved his truck to the top of the hill. He walked down the steep part and skied the rest of the way home. Now I know what those odd looking tracks in the snow are: cross-country skis. Oh.


The squirrels have discovered the feeders, and I have two of the fattest little red squirrels chomping away on the sunflower seeds. They don't seem to be making a dent in the supply yet, though, so that's good.


Oh, yes, and when I turned out of my driveway to head for the post office this afternoon, a pileated woodpecker swooped across the road right in front of me. I only saw its backside and the underside of its wings, but it was unmistakable. I fondly hope to get one of those at my feeders before winter is over.


Speaking of winter being over, Mariner had a curious cancellation today. Somebody called up and said they had heard that snow conditions weren't too good up here (where they heard that is beyond me in itself!), and they wanted to cancel their reservations...for February 25. All Shirley and I could do is laugh. The winter has hardly begun, guys, and most people seem to think conditions are quite good, even in spite of our warm weather. Is there any wonder we call them "tourons"?


So that was my quiet day in the field, and another week has passed. Days go by like slipping down the road, and I hardly know they're gone.


January 5

It was so nice to go to bed rather earlier last night and drift off to sleep to the singing of the lake that I think I'll try it again tonight. I did have a few wakeful periods, but nothing too bad, and I was up earlier than usual this morning.


I was up around 6:30, then I fell back to sleep, and when I went into the bathroom again, there was a body on the floor. I never heard a thing, but but the Mighty Mouser was at work again.


I was curious about what it was, because it had a much more pointy nose than a mouse, and after poking around the internet a while, I discovered that it was a shrew. That's the third one I've seen in the house in the five years I've lived here. I may have referred to them as voles, but voles are bigger and have rounded noses. The shrew is smaller, sometimes a lot smaller, than a mouse, and it is a slightly different color, besides having a very pointed nose. There are several different kinds that live around here, but from the information I got, I couldn't really tell which one I threw in the trash.


Buster made up for his busy early morning by sleeping in the wash basket with the nightgowns for most of the day. He was so comfortable, I even investigated cat beds on the web, but most of them are too expensive to experiment with. I have one at the other house, but it doesn't have a cushy bottom, and that is clearly one thing he likes. He did sit on me for a while, but he gets upset when I don't give him my undivided attention, which cuts down on production.


So that was our early morning. When I got to the office, there was a note from Ron saying that the road was terrible, and stay home if I could. So I did. The temperature had dropped off nicely after midnight, but there hadn't been any snow, and so all the slush was frozen into ice. Eventually, the snow started, but very fine crystals, and it was late afternoon before there was any accumulation. A late note said that it's better now, and I hope so, because Ron's son Trevor is having minor surgery in Laurium at 8:00 tomorrow morning, and I hope they don't have a problem getting there.


It's also been a week since I've been to the post office, and I do need to go, and I suspect I will be out for dinner tomorrow night, so I hope there is a nice covering of snow by tomorrow afternoon.


I was doing my morning thing when all of a sudden the internet connection went away. It was down for 15 minutes or so, and it's been OK since, although I did have to reboot once more when an instance of IE hung the system for no apparent reason. So if there were a few pictures missing and some funny times on some of the archives, that's why. I figure the wind blew away something downstream, because when I tried to call the tech support line, it was busy. When I heard that, I decided it wasn't just me, and I went on dial backup for a little while.  In general the broadband has been so stable, I hate to even complain.


The wind has been in the 20-30 mph range, from the north, all day, which has cooled the house down nicely. I do sleep better when the bedroom is cooler.


The lack of snow caught everybody by surprise - we were supposed to get more, sooner, but at least it's coming, and that will help the road.


I brought a few more things in from the breezeway, but they are all sitting along the back wall of the great room. I did unload the dishwasher, and I worked at clearing the decks in the office a bit, so that I can get at the sewing machine. And that was about it. I am getting to the bottom of the old sweater, and I'm working on the ring finger of the second glove.


So it's quiet around here, and I like that. The lake is still singing its song, which should make for another good night's sleep, and with any luck our New Year's thaw is over.


January 4

Days pass, and I lose track of them...just like I want to. This one was rather truncated, since I didn't get up until after 10:00. I was in bed shortly after midnight, but I was wakeful during the night, and when I finally could sleep again, I just kept on. I developed a sort of cramp in a muscle down the inside of my right calf, which is a place it's impossible to stretch to work it out, and it bothered me enough that I didn't sleep. It was warm, too.


It was a warm, dark and dank day. The temperature got up to around 36º at the precipitation was light rain. I was up at 6:00 in the morning, when I heard Ron go by, then saw lights go by in the other direction...he got down to my house and decided he just couldn't make it in the truck, so he went home and got Trevor a ride to school. The rain and the warmth has apparently turned Woodland Road into something of a skating rink, although he did blow out the slush, just to keep it from freezing when the temperature does drop. 


Around 3:00 the wind picked up and shifted to the north, and it is now blowing in the 20-30 mph range, and the lake is singing an angry song. The temperature is dropping...very slowly...and maybe overnight the rain will turn to snow. A good covering of new snow will give some traction on the road.


It was a good day to sleep long and stay in, so I did. Eventually, I decided the suitcases needed to be unpacked and put away, so I did that, and I put Buster's fleece where it belongs, on the window seat. However, I put the flannel nightgowns, all of which need their sleeves patched, in the wash basket, and when I went back to put on my slippers, there he was, curled up in the basket, in the nice warm flannel! Snot cat.


He came out when I warmed up my dinner, and he sat on my lap for a while while I knitted, but then I started reading, and he went away again. 


As I suspected, the birds found the feeders this morning. The blue jays just love that "squirrel mix", and there were chickadees and nuthatches flying all over. I hope to have some more interesting birds eventually, but I have to start somewhere. I know the goldfinches have to be around, since they don't apparently migrate, but it takes them a little longer to come back to the feeders. So far, no squirrels, which is fine with me. 


I was about to go searching for a birdbath last night when Outlook Express hiccupped, and by the time I got everything restored, it was too late to do any more surfing. I wonder if it has anything to do with my having had both FrontPage and Word open along with OE and IE yesterday? The next time I start playing with the journal files, I will stop both OE and IE and hope that helps. I think I got everything back except an order I place yesterday, but I got a shipping confirmation today, so that is OK.


I also brought the rest of the CraftStors inside, although I haven't returned them to their usual place. I do need to fire up the old sewing machine and get those sleeves patched! And before I fire up the sewing machine, I really should oil it, since I haven't used it in quite a while. That, of course, assumes I have oil with me...


So it was another quiet day in the field, and it sounds like it will not be a quiet night, but I sleep better when the lake is singing, and maybe that north wind will cool things down in the bedroom.


January 3

I had to laugh at myself. After railing about MS proofreading, and how I wanted to be careful about publishing something with bad grammar, the sentence In which I said that had a totally nonsensical word in it...Of course. That's how it always is, isn't it? Thanks much to the reader who pointed it out to me. I fixed it, in case you go looking for it, but I really will try to be a bit more careful with my proofing after this.


Stashed away under the sewing machine has been a bag with a partly-finished sweater that I brought up here several years ago. It is just acrylic knitting worsted, but it is a space-dyed color combination I like a lot - two shades of gray-green, sky blue and a dark heathered purple. It is a remake. I first did it fifteen or more years ago as a v-necked sweater, a lot smaller than I wear now. Then I realized I really don't like v-necks in sweaters: when it's cold, I want sweater up to my neck! So I unraveled it and began to re-knit it by the current master pattern, which is big and sloppy and very, very comfortable. I did the same with another one, which is rose and blue and plum, but I finished that one. I got down to the body of the green/blue one and lost interest, especially when it appeared that I had unraveled it when it was dirty and the reused yarn has a strange feel to it. However, it's going to be cold this winter, and I don't want to wear those huge berber tops all the time, so I decided I should finish my sweater. It will be more useful than the pale blue heather one, which is wool. The acrylics I can just toss into the washer and dryer and be done with. Wool takes more care and feeding.


So last night, after I finished the journal and rebooted the system a couple of times, I hauled one of my books and the sweater down the hall to the bedroom, threw on my nightie, and sat and read and knitted until after midnight, by which time my legs were getting twitchy. Then I had myself a really good night's sleep. 


It has been warm enough outside that it is warm inside, so I didn't have the covers pulled up to my neck for most of the night, and so Buster got to sleep cuddled up against me, which is what he really likes. It wasn't too warm for him. He seems to be becoming a good  enough bed partner that I won't have to keep him outside the sheets anymore, though. When he was younger, he'd lie with his feet against me and stick out his claws. It's really hard to sleep with somebody's prickers sticking into you at odd moments. Would you believe that "pricker" isn't in Microsoft's dictionary? Good grief... Anyway, he behaved himself last night, and mostly slept with his back up against me.


We got up late this morning, and I didn't do a lot, even though my legs felt better today than they have in a while. I did get the bird feeders filled, although it was late in the afternoon, and no birds came before dark. We'll see about tomorrow.


And I cooked. I was really tired of eating commercial frozen stuff, and I found a package of pork chops in the freezer, so I made pork chops with Spanish rice, which is one of my favorite dishes, and I haven't had it in a very long time. It's a bit harder to do than my other pork chop recipe, but not that much. I have a supply of freeze-dried green peppers, which works just fine for cooked dishes, and all I have to do is chop up some onion. I browned the chops slowly, like the recipe says, and simmered the whole thing slowly, and my goodness, did it taste good! I have enough for the rest of the week, too. Topped it off with some of the best chocolate (Lake Champlain Chocolates). Yum.


The weather was uniformly dull and gray, and the temperature hung in at either 32º, by my thermometer, or 34º at the NWS station for the last 24 hours. There was perhaps a little drizzle, and some fog late in the day. I think my thermometer is probably reading a bit low, because the ice on the part of the deck that got cleared was melting. I should have scraped it off, but I was too lazy. Anyway, the feeders are out, and now I remember that I was thinking about getting a heated birdbath. I have seen one that will clamp to the railing. I'll have to investigate that.


But now I will toddle off to the north end again, and probably read and knit some more. I'm making progress on the sweater, but I have a ways to go, and knitting and reading is a good way to relax before sleeping.


It was a dull day in the field, but it's supposed to start snowing again tomorrow...we shall see...


January 2

I had hoped we would continue to have colder weather, but it got up to about 34º today, and it was dull and gray. There wasn't much wind, and it probably wasn't too bad outside. I wouldn't know - I didn't poke my nose out. Ron got busy and didn't come to do the rest of the deck, and while I wanted to fill the bird feeders, well, I just got busy, too.


I actually ended up converting the rest of the Decembers to MS Word. It was interesting to see how widely the weather has varied. I think this is the first winter in some time where it has been so uniformly cloudy. Anyway, that took most of the afternoon. I apologize for the various spelling and grammar errors that have cropped up in the old journals - I was working on 2001 - 2003 - including one sentence and thought I began and just never finished...huh? I should proofread more carefully, I guess.


Some of the errors were places where I inadvertently typed a period when I meant a comma. In this font particularly, there is little enough difference that sometimes my tired old eyes just can't tell the difference, and FrontPage has almost no grammar checking at all. I really don't want to start typing the journals in Word and having to move them over to FrontPage, but maybe I'll have to do that. I really dislike publishing anything that has errors where I know better.


Word's grammar checking does leave something to be desired, and it has a very hard time with some of my personal idioms. Maybe it comes from having studied German, but I will frequently invert the order of a sentence and use passive voice to mention the most important idea in a sentence first. Word suggests alternative wording in some of those cases, and I find it uniformly bland and dull, dull, dull. Maybe if I was writing a business memo it would work, but not in my personal journals. And there are places where I use constructs that are just more complicated than it can parse...sorry, but I can still write better than Word.


Anyway, that is done. I'll be doing it for the rest of the year, I guess, unless I get really energetic and do it all at once. I did all of the October through December entries, but I have all the rest of 2001 - 2003 to do. One month at a time.


There was one little snow shower, just a few  minutes of light flakes late this morning, then it warmed up enough that it melted.


While I was sitting in the bathroom this morning, I saw a movement in the side yard, and I watched a little red squirrel who had apparently dug a deep hole in the snow out there and found a cache of seeds at the bottom. It would dive into the hole, grab a seed or two, then run back to the surface to eat. Why it didn't just stay in the hole, I don't know. Eventually, it apparently started digging its tunnel deeper, because it went down and didn't come back for a while. It was fun to watch.


Otherwise, it was a very quiet day in the field, and now I am trying to decide whether to stay here and read or go up to the north end and read there?


January 1 - New Year's Day

It was a quiet day, and that was good. I ended up not getting to bed until after midnight anyway. I sat in the ugly chair and knitted with a cat on my lap and saw a few of the fireworks that they set off at the Brockway Motel. Buster was sitting there, half asleep, and all of a sudden he came to full alert, then he jumped down and stared into the little crack between the slider track and the bar I use to lock the door. He kept moving back and forth along the window, and a couple of times he went over to the sliding part of the door. At one point, I saw the littlest mouse I've ever seen, not more than an inch long, I think, jumping up and down and trying to get through the crack, then running a couple of inches and trying again. We were both fascinated. It couldn't get out, however, so eventually it went back where it came from.


It looked to me at the time like there might be a nest right there in the corner, and I didn't feel like getting into that last night, so I just left it. Eventually we went to bed. It was really nice to have a quiet midnight. As I've mentioned before, in Detroit it sounds like a war has broken out at midnight on New Year's Eve. I didn't hear one gunshot here. Nice.


I was wakeful during the night, for some unknown reason, and I wasn't ready to get up when I woke up at 9:15 this morning, but I had to walk anyway, so oh, well.


As usual I sort of diddled around and didn't eat until around 2:00, then I changed the pages in my planner. I had just done that when Ron and Trevor showed up. Nice guys! However, that deck is going to be a terrible job. They got the front porch cleared off, except for the layer of ice under everything, and they got the deck in front of the office cleared, so I will be able to fill the bird feeders tomorrow. The rest will take some time. It is really deep, and while there isn't the crusty stuff there was on the front porch, it is heavy and packed snow, and hard to move. It really was too much for Trevor, but he helped where he could.  So I guess I will be seeing them again.


After they left, I changed check registers and closed out the 2005 register. Now all I need to do is the final months of the 2005 ledger,  and the bank statement, when it comes, and all that stuff will be over. What a pain. I've always said that if I were really wealthy, I'd have an accountant to do all that stuff, and I'd only have to worry about spending it. Dream on...


So now it is bedtime again.


It was another cloudy, dreary day, but no more snow. The temperature was over freezing during the night, but it fell off to the upper 20s during the day. It wasn't really too bad at all outside. However, I couldn't help move snow because Ron only has one shovel, so Trevor had to use mine. I gave them a soda when they were through, and we got to talking about the road and general conditions up here.


Now we are embarking on a new year, and it should be an interesting one in the field.


Last  updated 08/04/11 08:45 PM