A View From the Field








November, 2006


November 30

Well, November is just about history, and I haven't done any of the things I thought I wanted to do. Oh, well, that's how it goes.


I didn't get to bed early last night, and when I did go, I didn't sleep very well, so I slept late. In fact, Buster had finally settled down beside me for his midday siesta when I had to boot him out to get up.


Since the jeans and underwear situations were getting critical, I did do a few loads of wash. The jeans are dry and folded, there is one load of tops in the dryer and the underwear is in the washer. I have at least three more loads to do: more tops, fleece, and sheets and towels, but they aren't quite so critical. So I did accomplish something today.


I also deleted the game from the disk, since it was causing all sorts of problems including crashing the system. I emailed the place I bought it and got their instructions for trying to repair it, which I will try after I get the disk replaced, since I'm afraid that may be causing some of the problems.


I just now opened up the case and installed the new disk, and wonder of wonders, when I booted up the system, there is is! Plug and play is just wonderful. When I talked to my friend MIke, he says the big computers I used to work on are that way, too, and he doesn't usually shut them down more than once a year. Of course, when he does, it takes weeks to get ready, because he has to make sure all the added hardware is in the sysgen and correct. One more headache I don't have anymore.


Anyway, the instructions, such as they are, for running Drive2Drive say that everything should be shut down before it runs, so after I get this uploaded, I will pull the plug on the wireless receiver, take down Norton and everything else, and have at it. I'm not planning to stay up all night to watch it, so if it takes a long time to create the new disk, we may or may not have a system tomorrow morning. Just a warning. You may still be seeing tonight's picture, and there may or may not be any tomorrow. Once I start on this exercise, I expect to forge ahead until it's finished. As an old systems support techie, nothing grinds me more than having to fall back to a previous configuration because the new one didn't work.


The computer case is sitting beside me right now, with its side panel open. It takes up one heck of a lot of room in the desk area of the office, and I have to be careful not to bump anything with the mouse stand or my fingers, knees or chair, but it seems to be running just fine.


Last night, about half the web copied before it timed out, including the journal, and that did not solve the problem with the left sidebar, so what that problem is, I don't know either. That is something else I need to look into, but I want to get the disk out of the way and make sure it is working properly before I go on to other problems. I also plan to try to update all the software, which is another good reason to make sure the broadband is working properly.


When I went to bed last night...well, this morning...the temperature was 19º and the wind was from the northwest in the 15-30 mph range. Brr! I thought the wind died down during the night, but what actually happened is that it began to veer toward the north. I was awake before dawn, and I noticed that there was some white on the ground around the house, and when it got light, I could see that maybe an inch of snow had fallen. It has kept snowing lightly for most of the day, and maybe another inch or two has come down, but it has blown around so much it's hard to be sure. The NWS station is completely useless for snow. I should have pulled down the shutters yesterday, I guess.


Winter sure has come with a thump! The temperature has been slowly, slowly rising all day long, and it is now 25º, with a 15 or so mph wind from the north-northeast. That big heat sink out there is keeping us about 10º warmer than the airport. It was chilly in the house this morning: the windows and doors aren't all that tight: but once the wind shifted toward the north, it was quite comfortable. My comfort level also depends upon what and how much I've eaten lately, and my first meal of the day was a nice bowl of very good clam chowder, which kept me warm and comfy all afternoon. I do think possibly the plumber's last fix may have solved the worst of my problem with the heat. I hope.


So that was our first real winter day, and I guess we won't have no snow in November, although we may set a new record low. The forecasts for the next week are typical for this time of year - chance of snow every day. However, the big blizzard that's coming through is going to be 400 or more miles south of us, so we will be making do with clipper systems and lake effect snows. Considering how winter is around here, I'm just as glad we seem to be easing into it slowly.


So it's a cold and snowy night, and all of a sudden, it's winter in the field.


November 29

Well, see, there's this game called Blockout that I've been playing since 1991...it's a 3-D version of Tetris, and it's addicting. It had slipped my mind, but I was looking around at what's on the system, so I started playing it. I won't tell you when I went to bed, but Buster thought I was nuts.


So I got up at noon, having had the potty dream and the food dream, and not much got done today except for paying a few bills.


I do need to thank the reader who pointed me in the direction of the program I think I can use to solve my disk problem. It is called Drive2Drive, and it copies disk drives from within windows. I did buy it and download it, but except to read about it, I haven't tried it yet. It will mean installing the new drive as a slave, and I just didn't want to get into that with the little time I had this afternoon. I also tracked down how to get into the BIOS setup program on this computer - would you believe, it involves opening up the case and resetting a jumper cable? For heaven's sake...


Anyway, then I got too bold, and downloaded a new game and part of an update to a utility program, and oh, boy, was that a mistake! I'm not sure if the game is buggy or I'm just not getting a good download, but just about everything happened that could. I finally had to do a GoBack to last midnight when I lost the IE icon in the quick start tray.


I did get the game back, and it is still buggy, but I decided to postpone downloading the utility. Maybe tomorrow I can get up a little bit earlier and have enough time to get the disk installed and try fooling around with it. I expect to have the case sitting on my stool with the side opened up for some time, until I'm finished with this exercise.


Otherwise, it was a day to watch the weather. Overnight, the temperature peaked at 52º, about the time I went to bed, but by 6:00 it was under 40º, and it has declined slowly all day long, so that now it's 28º. The wind, which was from the southwest last night, has veered around and is now out of the northwest and it has been rising, until at 10:00, it was in the 20-35 mph range. It was snowing in Houghton at 10:00. Winter is upon us, for sure.


For a short while late this afternoon, we had some sunshine, which was lovely to see, but by sunset, there were clouds coming up out of the west. When I went to the kitchen a while ago, there seemed to be a little moonshine, but I doubt it will last long. It's pretty noisy out there, between the lake and the wind...just the way I like it.


I want to report the progress of my feet. I actually have ankles and feet again, instead of elephant legs and flippers. All the fluid isn't gone, of course, and I still have sort of a roll around my left ankle, but just the few days I have been wearing the compression hose has made a remarkable difference. Since they are toeless, and I'm wearing wool socks over them, they feel sort of funny (of course, my toes always feel sort of funny), but my shoes fit better and today I was moving around much better. That has something to do with my back feeling better, of course. It was stiff when I got up, but it has pretty much worked itself out. I did send for a few more pairs of socks yesterday, because the logistics of having only one pair of socks to wear are bad, and as usual, I'm kicking myself for not having done this a long time ago. I knew where to get them, and I kept thinking I should, but I just never got around to it. Except for where my toes hang out, I find the hose very comfortable to wear. They are sort of a struggle to get into properly, although not as much as the first day when my feet and ankles were so swollen. 


The place is a mess, even more so than earlier, because I got some more packages today and there are boxes all over, as well as tons of catalogs, but somehow I'd like to see if I can get the computer situation resolved, then I can think about other things. I am going to have to do some wash pretty quick, because I'm running out of underwear and jeans.


So that is all there is, and I would really like to get to bed by midnight if possible? The howling of the wind and the singing of the lake should make it a good sleeping night.


November 28

Third try.


It was a dark and dismal day in the field. I did manage to get up at a more reasonable hour than yesterday, and I did manage to do something.


I should have gotten up about an hour before I did, because I wasn't sleeping and Buster was making a nuisance of himself, but it felt good to just lie there. I didn't sleep on the heating pad all night, because getting it arranged properly after I got up or turned over began to bug me, but my back did feel better today, so I guess I'm getting over it.


My accomplishment of the day was to get the pots and pans all washed and the dishes done. Much as I hate that chore, I really don't like to have the sink full of stuff, and it was beginning to get to me. It was probably getting unsanitary, too. Nothing is put away, but part of that chore is now done.  I also got the bird feeders filled, but I didn't do that until it was almost dark again.


It was really dark and dismal all day long. When I started working in the kitchen, I actually had to turn on the lights to see what I was doing...the first time since last winter that I've had to do that during the day. The temperature was steady around 35º until about 11:00, and it has risen slowly and steadily to 46º. There was a south wind in the 15-25 mph range, which I could hear, but I didn't notice it when I was outside. For most of the day, it was either raining or drizzling and foggy. Yuck. "They" say there is snow headed our way, but I'll just wait and see. It is about time.


So that was another quiet day in the field. The computer was annoying enough that we didn't get very many pictures. It seems to be more likely to go down right after I walk away to do something else than it is when I'm sitting here. The innate perversity of inanimate objects. And a couple of times, I had some trouble getting it back up. One of these days, I will have to try the disk thing again.


And that's about all I know. Maybe I can get this saved, at least.


November 27

Well, let's try this again. It's been a short day and I don't have much to report, but I had just about finished it when the computer hung again (of course). There just isn't any good way to recover from that. If I use Word, I have all kinds of problems getting the result into FrontPage, and if I use FrontPage, I keep losing things.


I ended up not getting to bed until after 2:00 again, and I don't quite remember why. What with the computer problems and the upload problems and the difficulty of going between Word and FrontPage, it has been taking me 2-3 hours to get the journal updated, and I've ended up having to copy it manually for the past few nights. What a pain.


Anyway, I woke up around 10:30 and thought I would just lie there for a few more minutes, and I finally got up around 12:30. It was nothing I didn't need, but it certainly shortened the day. By the time I finished my daily surfing, it was almost time for ATC and it was getting dark already. I did fill the bucket I use to keep the sunflower seed in and brought it back to the office, but by then it was getting dark. And that was all I accomplished today. Maybe with another night's sleep I will have more energy and my back will feel better. It does feel better today, but it's still stiff.


The weather wasn't exactly nasty, but it wasn't so good, either. The temperature hung right around 35º all day, and there was a gusty wind in the 10-20 mph range from the northeast. The wind was higher overnight, and the lake has been singing all day. I am well shielded from northeast winds, so I only heard a few gusts hit the side of the house last night. It was dark and dull and gray all day long and night fell earlier than usual, even.


I forgot to mention that over the weekend, I noticed a whole flock of goldfinches, in their drab winter colors, at the thistle feeder, so I'm glad I left it out. They are nice little birds. I may get out some more thistle socks, so they will have plenty of places to perch.


And I guess that is about all I have to talk about. I was going to say something about the shortness of the days and the analemma, and when I went looking for the illustration, the computer hung, so I guess I'll forget that for now and at least get this saved.


It's another dark, cloudy night in the field, and it will be good to hunker down under the comforter and listen to the song of Mother Superior.


November 26

Wow, talk about a frustrating 24 hours! I didn’t make it into bed until about 2:00 because I was trying to copy most of the C: disk to the TravelDisk. As it turned out, I didn’t get everything I needed, but I’m afraid that way isn’t going to work anyway.


I slept on the heating pad for most of the night, and while the really sore place is better, my whole lower back is very stiff and uncomfortable, so I guess a few more nights of heat are in order. I knew I should have brought the heat wrap back with me, but I didn’t, so I will have to figure out a way to strap the regular heating pad around me. I didn’t sleep very well, but that was only partly because of my back (which feels fine when I’m lying down). I kept thinking about the disk thing.


Eventually, I rolled out of bed, and I finally got my compression hose down to the bedroom, so I put them on. The doctor seemed to think the bands around the knees would be uncomfortable, but that isn’t my problem at all. What is bothering me is the place where my feet bend forward, where I have creases anyway, and the stockings crease in the same places and they hurt. So I don’t know what I’m going to do. I guess I will try them again tomorrow. They really aren’t keeping the fluid out of my feet anyway, at least so far. Contrary body again.


After I did my morning thing and the system kept freezing up, I decided to bite the bullet and try to get the disk installed. Installing the hardware is a no-brainer, just like I knew it would be, except that the disk drive is so tightly held in the cage that it took me some fiddling to get it out. I guess that’s a good thing, rather than if it was loose, but the ends of my arthritic fingers aren’t that strong. Later I was looking at some instructions and they said to grasp the disk only by its sides…now, how you are supposed to do that when the end is even with the cage, I really don’t know. Sometimes those people are really amazing.


Anyway, then I got myself into a real mess. I really, really do not want to have to reinstall all of the stuff that is on my current disk. Besides, I seem to have misplaced several of the disks I need to do a complete installation – important things like GoBack and Photshop, as well as a couple of other things. It has gotten to be such a mess around here in the past week or so that I’m not surprised something got lost, but I’m going to have to do some hunting. Anyway, I don’t want to do that at all!


However, it eventually became clear that I’m not going to be able to use the TravelDIsk as a medium to move everything. It uses a USB connection, and the computer doesn’t recognize that until Windows is running. But if Windows is running, there are a number of files locked in use and a number of others (like the registry) that have been changed, so everything on the TravelDisk won’t copy over anyway. Then I began to get a black screen with a message on it that disappeared so quickly I couldn’t read it, followed by a shutdown. Then I was able to get the message and an instruction to bring the computer up in DOS (now how the heck do you do THAT???) and run scanreg, because the registry was corrupted. Eventually, I figured out a hokey way to get into DOS, then I had to search the laptop to find out where scanreg was hiding, and I did manage to fix it…I thought. So I got part of a system, but then I got another black screen, and I never did see what this one said. Sigh.


So I admitted that I might have to reinstall everything. That’s when I discovered that I don’t seem to have everything I want to install. In the meantime, I brought up a basic system, and then I discovered that a few important things, like the modem, were hiding someplace where I couldn’t remember where they were…


And then I said to heck with it, opened up the case, and put the old disk back in. I also took a look around at the hardware configuration and wrote myself some notes about how things are put together. My modem is on a shared board with the home networking adapter, and it is COM3. What I can’t remember how to find out is, where is the configuration I’m using with the wireless broadband? I may have to call PastyNet to find that out.


However, I have one last gasp, I think. I won’t be doing it tomorrow, but I think I’m going to install both disks, see if I can get into DOS non-destructively, and just use the old-fashioned DOS copy command and hope that works. In the meantime, I will do some cleaning up around here and see if I can locate all the missing software. And my tech support person should be around on Wednesday.


For the time being, though, I am going to have to hassle with a reluctant disk and everyone will have to understand that the camera won’t be updating very regularly. Bah! I’d hoped to get this out of the way so I can do something else for a change.


Anyway, I’m tired, and I’m trying a new way to get the journal updated tonight, although it will surprise me a whole lot if the entire copy works. This is beginning to get very tiresome. And the new way doesn't work very well either, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do. You would think that all the formatting would copy from Word to FrontPage, but it doesn't. However, when I started typing this, I had about a page done in FrontPage and the computer hung up and I lost it. I guess there is just no good way...


Oh, the weather. It was a good day to have other things to do. The temperature was constant at about 36º, with not much wind from the east. It was cloudy all day long, so the last picture showed about what it looked like. I’m sorry there were no sunset pictures, but I didn’t have a computer at that point. They are still promising rain and/or snow, but the temperatures look to remain very mild for the week.


So we’ll see. I’m tired and frustrated, and I need to go lie on the heating pad.

November 25

I'm still trying, but it's trying to upload the entire web, so it hasn't worked yet.


And I'm still trying. I did get far enough that I think the sidebar is now spaced right, but I still haven't gotten it to appear on the journal page. I'm not sure exactly what the problem is.


However, after trying it four or five times today, the computer hung up, and it hung up so badly it took me half an hour to get it back. So I will be trying to back up C: tonight, and possibly tomorrow I will attack the disk. I can say that I'm beginning to believe the problem with the disk is in part related to the relative humidity. It was down to about 25% in the office today, before I set up the humidifier. It's now over 33%, which is better for man and beast and computer. However, I will have to almost close the register in the bedroom or I will start growing mold on the window frames.


Other than fiddle with the computer, I didn't do much of any thing again. I did start reading one of my stories again, so that kept me occupied while the upload wasn't doing its thing.


Part of the upload problem may be the disk, but part of it seems to be that the broadband frequently loses control packets. This doesn't usually happen on the dialup (the line just drops!), and it doesn't happen at all on the DSL. FrontPage's FTP routine is clearly very bad at error recovery, so it will miss something, apparently never retry, and eventually just time out and die. When it decides it needs to copy the entire web, the chance of that happening seem to be very great. If I ever get the disk replaced, I am going to have to get hold of PastyNet and try to find out what can be done about this...besides me investing in a different program to build my website.


Anyway, it's a double frustration. I do think that I got into this mess because of the problems with the disk: yesterday a bunch of stuff in FrontPage just disappeared completely, and I had to rebuild it from scratch. And I think probably a lot of the strange problems I've had over the past year or more with this computer may have the same source. Or at least I hope so. And no, I simply am not in the mood for a new computer. The kind I want to get is probably going to cost as much as this one did when I got it - around $3500, and after the thousands of dollars I spent this year moving and repairing and replacing, I just really can't do it now. Maybe next year. Maybe after the house sells? Maybe. The list of things I want to do with some of that money is getting pretty long.


It was another nice day, although I ended up not seeing much of it. I woke up around 7:30 when the phones went "bleep!" twice and the clocks started to blink, but that was too early. I woke again around 9:30, but I was still tired. I had had a leg cramp in the middle of the night that kept me awake for a while. So I went back to sleep and didn't get up until 11:30. The aftereffects of my strenuous Thursday have left me with sore legs and a very sore, stiff back. I will have to sleep on the heating pad tonight and see if I can get rid of that. I've been hobbling around like a 90-year-old.


When I got up, it was sunny, with high cirrus clouds, and it stayed like that all day, although the clouds thickened a bit at times. There were some clouds in front of the sun at sunset, but shortly thereafter, I noticed the crescent moon in the south windows. There were clouds around it, but it wasn't completely cloudy. Pretty. The temperature did get down to 28º overnight, the lowest it's been in quite a while, but it got up to 45º this afternoon, and there wasn't much wind all day long, so it was quite nice out.


I ate at Mariner tonight, and there were a few people there, but it was real quiet. I did check, and the dinner menu will come back when the traffic picks up - probably the end of December. That's nice. The lunch menu is a bit more limited than the dinner menu, and I like different things to eat. However, it's all good, and I had a nice steak sandwich tonight.


So that is about all I have to report, and I will try this upload exercise again...and again...and again...the problem is, because of the bugs in FrontPage, I have to reboot the system between each try, and sometimes I end up in the pickle I was in earlier today, when nothing works. After I'm sure this has uploaded, I will try to set up the backup to the TravelDisk and hope that works. This is getting more than painful.


So that is how it is in the field. Maybe tomorrow I will do something??


November 24

This was a really lost day. I didn’t sleep very well last night. I had been drinking so much water and stuff that I was up any number of times, and I was so stiff and sore that I could barely walk. Cooking is hard physical labor. I got up around 10:30, to find that for once, the computer had made it through the night…and of course, it was a cloudy morning.


I did absolutely nothing. It was hard enough to get to the bathroom, and I was shuffling around all bent over, so I just relaxed. I did pick away at the turkey for most of the day, and it’s good.


Arthur called around 5:15, and we had a nice conversation. They have been traveling all over, as usual, and they enjoy all that.


He pointed out that the sidebar on this page had disappeared over the past few days, and I’m not sure exactly what I did, but somehow I managed to completely zap the entire website….aarrrggghhhh! After fiddling around trying to download it from the website (which I’m not sure would have worked anyway), I finally did a rollback to last midnight, and everything is OK again now. However, I do know why the sidebar disappeared: Word doesn’t recognize it, so it had disappeared. When I tried to just recover the web files using GoBack, I discovered that the entire web had been changed a dozen times or more between 5:15 and 6:30, and I have no idea why or how. So I promise, I will be much more careful after this. I think I know how to get the sidebar to come back, and while it is fussy, it is still better to do the typing into Word. I sure am glad he called and told me. I don’t usually look at the new page after I’ve published it.


The weather wasn’t bad, even though it was cloudy. The temperature peaked at about 49º. The wind was very strong (in the 20 mph range) from the south between about 8:00 and 11:00, then it dropped off, and that was when the temperature went up. It’s cooled off into the lower 40s now, but there is no wind at all. The clouds looked like they might be trying to break up around sunset. The sun turned into a bright red ball over the Mountain Lodge about the time it was setting, and there were some nice pink clouds in the sky. I just had to recover today’s camera files, and while the pictures were OK, they weren’t anything to save or publish. It did look like it was probably clearing up.


On the subject of sunrise and sunset, the sun is now rising at around 8:10 and setting about 5:05, so the days are shorter than 9 hours now, and it’s very obvious. This is the dark time of year, for sure, and it will get darker before it gets lighter. That’s why I enjoy the sunshine we had for the past couple of days so much.


So that is about all I know, and I'm really tired and sore, so I think I will go to bed and try to sleep long and hard. That's about all this time of year is good for anyway.


Well, after fooling around for quite a while, maybe I've got it straight now. Hope so. I'm about fed up with this thing.

November 23 – Thanksgiving Day

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving with lots of good food and good friends.


My day turned out all right, although dinner was very late.


I got to bed late last night, of course, but I slept well and long, and finally made it out of bed by 10:30. Then I diddled around, so I was late getting the turkey in the oven, and it took a lot longer to cook than it was supposed to…don’t know why. The last one I cooked was overcooked in a lot less time. Anyway, the stuffing was fine, but I used turkey stock for the gravy, and that wasn’t so fine. It has enough herbs in it that it had a definite flavor which was different from the flavor of the stuffing. When I boil up my bones this time, I will have to consider that, and maybe not put so much stuff in it.


Ron and Trevor did really well on it, which was good. The turkey was fine, although I don’t think the breast was very tender. And I have a lot left for eating and making other things with. They are nice guys, both of them, so it was a nice time. Buster even made a couple of appearances, and he let Ron pet him for a long time. He was very wary of Trevor, but I think before they left, he was beginning to see that even though Trevor is a kid, he’s OK.


The weather wasn’t too bad. It was sunny for most of the afternoon, although the sun set in some clouds. The temperature got up to 45º or so in the morning, then it fell gently all afternoon. There wasn’t much wind at all. And there was a very thin crescent moon over the Mountain lodge in the twilight. I’m not sure whether it is clear now or not.


So my feet are sore and my legs are sore, and I think I will be going to bed pretty soon now. The stove is a mess, but Ron helped put the stuff away and load the dishwasher, so all I have to do tomorrow are the pots and pans.


So everything turned out all right, and I am a thankful person. I’m in the field, and that is where I want to be, and I’m going to be staying here. And that’s good.


November 22

I didn’t quite make it to bed by midnight – it was 12:30 when I turned out the light, but that’s a lot better than lately. I did really well, too. I was up a number of times, and for the first time in a long time, I could see Polaris and the two end stars in the Little Dipper, which are now east and below Polaris. The western part of the sky is pretty barren early in the morning at this time of year, but I do think I glimpsed Aldebaran coming into view later in the night. That’s Taurus. Around 5:00 or 6:00, there were apparently some high clouds coming in, because Polaris just about faded out, and when I got up (10:30), it was cloudy again.


It stayed cloudy until sometime in the afternoon, and I can’t find out when, because the computer hung up right after I left the office last night. It was a bit better today, so we got some nice shots of another very nice day, thank you. The temperature got into the middle 30s overnight, but it rose quickly to about 49º, where it’s been all day. There was either no wind or light breezes from the southwest.


I diddled around, of course, and had the slow breakfast for lunch. I do have sort of an excuse – my back was bothering me every time I stood up. Somehow, I managed to get the trash to the compactor (which appears to be open all the time now – good!). Of course, I forgot something, and I immediately began collecting more stuff. I guess I would feel a lot better about some mail-order and internet retailers if I didn’t get a catalog from them every week at this time of year…Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, and The Vermont Country Store are among the worst. Tree killers. Now I know where the six full log haulers I passed yesterday were going. One of those haulers had what really looked like building lumber – 15” – 24” logs – but the others were full of junk clearly destined for the paper plants.


Eventually, I started splitting squash. I have a lot of squash, even though one had gone bad. I had three full cookie sheets, and I now have a 3-quart bowl that is pretty full. I still have to add the butter and pepper and get it packed away, but I will certainly have enough squash to keep me happy until next year’s crop comes in. It is so sweet and mild it actually reminds me of sweet potatoes. I kept having to sit down for a few minutes, and I stopped after I had all the flesh scooped out of the skins and had my dinner. So I still have part of that to do.


Not nearly as much got done as I’d hoped, but even if I hadn’t been diddling, I couldn’t have done much more standing. Sometimes it’s fine and sometimes it’s not. I hope it’s better tomorrow.


This weather is really amazing, another tale to tell, just like last year’s gale is. I have always been interested in the weather, and it’s one of the things I like about Michigan – you can just never tell what might happen. If we don’t get measurable snow up at Delaware next week, this will be the first year since records have been kept that there was no snow in November. Now, that’s amazing.


Of course, all hell could break loose anytime, and I have confidence that we’ll get our 250” this year as usual, one way or another. Seeing what happens is part of the fun, especially now that we have the nice tractor to dig us out.


I just wanted to note that I am going to have to find a way to eat more beets. I discovered last week that beets are a better diuretic for me than lasix…and they don’t deplete my potassium like lasix does. My ankles looked better than they have for over a year. Today I got the pair of compression knee-highs I ordered, and I will try them tomorrow. I’m only afraid they aren’t long enough, but we’ll see. I have thought about it since I saw the dermatologist, and I am not going to wear thigh-highs, especially after I discovered they have to be held up either by garters or body adhesive. I will absolutely, positively never wear a garter belt or girdle again in my life, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find that body adhesive does the same thing to my skin that compression bandages do…and that isn’t good. So I guess it’s knee-highs or nothing. We’ll see how they work.


Using Word to do the journal is working, although getting FrontPage to be happy with it is sort of fussy (as a lot of things in FrontPage are). I do like the way Word works a lot better than the way FrontPage works with text files, though, so I will try it for a while before I decide what to do for the future.


So that was my day, and I guess I’m about ready for the big push tomorrow. Now I need to go and work on squash and try to get to bed at a reasonable hour so I can get up reasonably early tomorrow.


November 21

Well, there that went. I had written most of a rather long entry when the computer froze. For a moment, I thought I had recovered it, but no such luck. It really makes me want to try writing this thing in Word...hmm. Well, it does seem to work. Now If I can get it back into FrontPage…Word keeps a temporary file that can sometimes be used to recover when the system crashes. It also ought to do a slightly better job of grammar checking (well…its grammar checker is crazy, but sometimes it helps).


I had hoped to get to bed before midnight tonight, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen either.


Now, where was I?


I did get to bed a bit earlier last night, but I wasn’t ready to get up when the phone rang at 10:00…especially when there was dead air on the other end of the line. When I checked, it was apparently a solicitation call. Grr. I did get up at around 10:30, but I wasn’t ready to.


It took me a long time to get out of the house, because the computer was really cranky today…still is. We didn’t get very many pictures at all, although there were some nice ones of sunset. I eventually pulled out around 1:00, and it was a good trip. The sun is so low it was shining in my eyes all the way south, and I had to pass a couple of slow drivers, including a full logging truck, but there wasn’t much traffic.


The parking lot at Econo was full, but for some reason there didn’t seem to be many people inside. Maybe that’s because it’s such a huge store (and Wal-Mart is bigger…yiieee!) I got everything on my list and a few other things besides, but I couldn’t find any savory, strangely enough. Apparently that herb is used by an ethnic group that didn’t emigrate to the Copper Country, or something. So my stuffing won’t taste like it usually does. Savory was the herb my grandmother used for her stuffing, and I still prefer it to either sage or thyme/marjoram/rosemary, which is what this year’s will be.


I got gas - $2.30 a gallon, despite the warnings I heard that prices are going up because of the holiday. And the companies claim they aren’t gouging us? Ha!


Then it was a fast trip home, even easier than the one down. The fridge is now packed to the gills, and so, I discovered, is the freezer. Econo had whole beef tenderloins and standing rib roasts on sale. I couldn’t justify $40 for something to stock the freezer, so I got a tenderloin. I’ve been wanting to try cooking one of those for a while now, and it’s a cut I think has to be special ordered in the Detroit markets. So it is safely stashed away, and about the time I can’t stand fowl anymore, I will have something equally nice to eat.


Mac had invited us over to learn about the tractor, so I went over to his house, and that is a very nice machine, with all the bells and whistles, including power steering. They also have a very nice house, not quite as large as mine, but nearly so, with lots and lots of windows.


We got to talking about last Thanksgiving, and I had just finished rereading the journal when the computer froze. We seemed to remember it was nasty, and boy, were we right. We had a three-day winter storm (meaning higher winds than “gale”), with 40 mph winds and wave after wave of lake effect squalls howling down the harbor. How different this year – not much wind, and they are predicting temperatures in the low 50s tomorrow and Thursday. We can’t believe we won’t get it, but the longer it’s postponed, the nicer.


The weather today was lovely. It was cloudy this morning, but it cleared up before I left for town, and it was sunny and pleasant. There were some high cirrostratus clouds turning the sky very pale blue, but they didn’t interfere with the sunshine. The temperature got up to 48º here, and it was over 50º in town, and there wasn’t much wind at all. In fact, it was calm until just a little while ago.


Ron had run across some Pepperidge Farm stuffing in Wal-Mart, so I won’t have to wing it completely after all. I need to measure the amount of bread cubes and write it down, along with the amount of water. I remembered what to put in it, but not the proportions. So maybe after this, I can make it from scratch without worry. I’m still annoyed by the savory. I think I may have two bottles at the other house…


Oh, well, the only way to cure that is for there to only be one house. Some day…


So now I’m going to try saving this and see if I can make FrontPage work right. If it does, believe me, I will take the time to do the extra step from now on. Word is a much better behaved program. And then I can toddle off to the north end. I was sneezing this morning, and I was sneezing tonight, but maybe it doesn’t mean anything.


November 20

I did eventually make it into bed this morning, and I got up around noon, so the day has been a truncated one. It was too bad, because it was a lovely day, and the camera was down for the morning, but oh, well. It looks like it will be next weekend before I can attend to the disk drive, so we'll just have to cope.


The weather was very nice. There was a lot of sunshine for most of the afternoon, although it did cloud up a bit late. The temperature was in the upper 30s, although it recently went over 40º, and the wind, which was strong overnight, died down to almost nothing. Sunshine really does make everything more cheerful.


To make up for no camera this morning, I saved one of the last shots from tonight, which I thought was rather nice. The reddish cast, of course, is an artifact of the camera. I was doing other things, but I don't think the sky was really that red, although it didn't last long.


I actually accomplished a few things today, amazingly enough. I got my return package to the post office, and while I didn't get to the trash compactor, I did clean off the counters in the kitchen. The dishes are ready to wash. The counters and the cooktop are still gross, but that doesn't take long to fix.


Now that I have figured out the delayed start on the dishwasher, I'm getting addicted to it. It's so nice to find clean dishes in the morning. This dishwasher is the quietest I have ever had, and I can't hear it in the bedroom, which is nice.


Things are still sort of a mess around here, and tomorrow I have to go back to Houghton and get my turkey and a few other things I forgot, but I guess everything will get taken care of relatively well.


And tonight, I'm going to bed at a more or less reasonable hour. Really.


November 19

This will be really short, because it's tomorrow morning and it's time to go to bed. I got up before I wanted to this morning, because I thought I should, and I was groggy all day, so I didn't do much.


What I did was bask in the sunshine! It was a beautiful day, and I'm sorry the camera was down for the morning. There were a few clouds for a while, but the afternoon was mostly sunny and clear and beautiful. The temperature was mostly in the upper 30s. The wind was from the north, and it was rather strong around 3:00, then it dropped off to nothing at 5:00, and now it has risen into the 20-30 mph range. The lake is singing nicely.


Oh, yes, and I did do one thing: before I even fed the cat, I finally unpacked the suitcases of stuff I brought back from Detroit. It isn't all put away, but the suitcases are stashed in the closet. I have a few things to dispose of, but it is easier to get into my closet now, and Buster won't have to look at the suitcases anymore.


So that is all I know, and I think I'd better go to bed sometime this morning...


November 18

Well, for the first time in a while, the computer hung after I'd typed a page or two, so I'll start this over again and see what I can remember. Rats.


It was one of those nights...I got to playing a game and lost track of the time, so I ended up going to bed at 4:00 and getting up at noon. I'm on the night shift, for sure!

I'll see if I can't do better tonight (although if I have more disk problems, I might not!).


Since my day was rather truncated, I didn't do a lot. I did get the bills to the post office before the mail came, so that is taken care of.


I also spent an hour or so hassling an order that wouldn't go through. Everything was fine until I tried to check out, then every time I tried to select my shipping address, the page hung up. Finally, I gave up and called, to discover that that merchant has instant and total access to every order anybody is entering. In this case, it worked out, but it doesn't give me warm fuzzies about them.


After that, I was fiddling around when I decided I might as well install the new monitor. I'm pleased to report that it was an instant success. I knew the old one was dark, but I didn't realize how dark it had gotten until I started using the new one. The only problem is that it is a 1680 x 1050 pixel screen, and I don't have any drivers that support that size, so everything is stretched out horizontally. It is so sharp that I was able to set the display for 1280 x 1024 and still read it, but a few things do look rather weird. Eventually I will do a more thorough search and see if I can find some drivers that work with Windows ME, but for the time being, I can cope. It also has the capability, with an optional stand, to rotate 90º, so that I might be able to display an entire page in Word, for example (or in FrontPage?). I'm sure ME doesn't support that, though.


The only thing about this monitor (and it's only a quibble!) is that there isn't any room on top of it to put anything, so my little clock with the embroidered inset and my little calendar will have to go someplace else, I think.  On the interesting plus side, if I wanted to use them, there are four USB ports in various places on the back of the screen. Boy, have things changed in the past five years! At that time, Gateway was nearly unique because it has two USB ports on the front of the CPU box.


I didn't feel too bad about getting this monitor, because if I get a new system one of these days, I can always use this for a backup monitor. I really like it. Almost all the tube-based monitors I have had eventually get dim and fuzzy. I wonder if these new LCD ones do, too, or if they last longer?


The old monitor is on the movers' dolly in the middle of the great room. Maybe I can haul it downstairs this week? I was rolling it out the door when I ran into the outer box the disk drive was in. When I tried to move it, it seemed very heavy for an empty cardboard box, and then I realized that the rustling I had heard a while before was Buster pulling the paper out and crawling in behind it. He does things like that often enough that I wonder if he would like one o f those cat beds that is shaped like a sack? Unfortunately, they are a bit pricey just to try, but I might. He likes to be with me, but he likes being warm better, and at this time of year, that means curling up in or under something. I could put it under the sewing machine (which I don't use much anymore), and maybe he'd sleep in here. Hmm...


I was so delighted with my new screen that I didn't know what to try first, so I fiddled around some more and discovered that Gateway's search function into their support documents is just horrible, so I guess I will have to call and talk to somebody before I install the disk. As I think I mentioned, I know how I want to do it, but I need to know if it will work. I guess the way to get the boot sectors onto the disk is to format it? I haven't been that far down in the hardware for a long time. Then I need to access the TravelDisk (which is a USB device) to copy everything onto the new drive. Alternatively, I could define the current disk as a secondary and copy the files from it. I don't know, but I will do almost anything to keep from having to reinstall all the stuff that is on this computer from scratch, then do all the updates!


Anyway, that's for another day. For now, doing my daily stuff will be a lot more pleasant.


The weather wasn't anything to write home about. There was a little bit of rain between 5:00 and 6:00, and then the wind started rising. It was 15-25 mph from the north all afternoon, so the lake is speaking medium-loud. There was apparently drizzle or light snow flurries off and on for most of the day. The temperature was 37º all day long, and it was dark and dreary.


On the dark and dreary front, I had been wondering if the camera was going bad, because the pictures were so dark, but it turns out, that was the monitor, too, and the camera seems to be fine. However, I also noticed that the monitor is so bright that it reflects off the window and leaves a red haze in one corner of the last picture, so I guess I will be turning it off around the time it gets dark...or maybe I won't. I will be interested to see how well I can read when (or if, at this time of year) we have another sunny day. The sun only gets up to about 23º above the horizon at noon these days, which means it shines in the south windows for a while. I think, by the way, that it is setting out of camera range to the south now, but you couldn't prove that from the pictures.


So anyway, that's about all I know, and I really do want to get to bed early tonight. I'm tired enough and the lake is singing loudly enough that I don't think I will have any trouble sleeping.


November 17

I wasn't very early getting to bed last night, and I was a bit wakeful between 3:00 and 6:00...the aftereffects of the beets, I think...but then I made up for all that by sleeping very well until 11:00. I think I'm caught up.


Of course, when I get up that late, I never end up doing much, and I didn't. I did write some checks, but I was waiting for UPS and FedEx, so I couldn't get to the post office (and I forgot about it when I went to dinner...duh.).


The new monitor (oh - did I mention that I broke down and got a new monitor? Maybe not) came fairly early, in a box that isn't more than 6" deep. Boy, am I going to like that monitor. I will have so much more room on the desk, even though it's a 22". I haven't unpacked it yet. I thought I'd wait until I have more time. Originally, I thought I might wait until after I get the disk installed, but I don't think so. The real problem will be hauling this boat anchor down to the basement. It weighs a ton - a lot more than a TV set the same size. For all the weight and all, it seems to me that it could have had more adjustments than it did. I've had the brightness and contrast cranked all the way up for a couple of years, and it is still so dark I just can't see anything in shadows in pictures. I was looking at some today that people assured me had detail in the shadows, and by golly, they looked all black to me! What was almost neater was the price. If I could have gotten a monitor like the new one when I bought the system, it would have cost me several thousand dollars, instead of $400. I guess that was a close-out special or something, but that's all right with me. Of course, the case is black, and the rest of the system is beige, but the black will look much better on the desk.


I had given up on the disk, when a guy drove up after dark and tried to deliver it to the breezeway door, since the only light in the house was in the hallway. I caught him, and good thing, too, because I had to sign for it. I haven't unpacked that, either. Tomorrow.


I am pleased to report that Buster has deserted the basement. I guess he got tired of not being very near me. I still don't know where he goes for his midday siesta, but I don't think it's downstairs. It is warmer in the north end, and much warmer here in the office, so he has been bugging me a lot. Right now, he is curled up under the east windows, because I won't let him sleep on my lap. I guess he has finally decided we aren't going anyplace, even though I haven't unpacked the suitcases. And he's right.


The weather was just about like it's been for the past week. There was a little wind last night, as I mentioned, until about 5:00 this morning, and there was a little murmur of surf, but then it died down again and it was about 10 mph from the north (more or less) all day. the temperature was steady at 36º.


What a strange November! No gales, no snow, no cold weather...no nothing to speak of. Very boring, and very dark and dreary.


I just deleted the first porn email message I've gotten in a long time. These things go in waves, and I guess we're back to that one again. Just a little variety from the drugs, penny stocks and loans. 


Anyway, back to the weather. I guess this is supposed to continue through the holiday, which is good for all those who are traveling, but very, very strange. When George Hite left on the 11th, the road commission reported that there had been no snow in November, and I don't think there has been any since. He has records going back to 1957, and that's never happened. Of course, John Dee says there may be some the week after Thanksgiving, but it's too early to tell yet. And November of 1991, we got 75". That's what makes living here so much fun. You never, never know.


There were a few people in Mariner tonight, and while I was waiting for my dinner, who should walk in but Ron and Chris Waara of Harbor Haus fame. They were up working at the restaurant and came in to have something before they went home. So those of you who sneer at Mariner, even our local five-star chef eats there on occasion. He had a reuben.


So that is about the extent of my report, and it's time to trudge up to the north end again. It's quiet and dull in the field again.


November 16

I made it up by 8:30 this morning, although I'm not quite sure how. I didn't sleep all that well...temperature problems and whatever else it has been...but I wanted to be dressed by the time the plumber arrived. As it was, he was late, so I got to fill my pill dispensers and curl my hair. I don't know what people in more strait-laced businesses do, but my experience has been that people here keep Keweenaw time, like my bank used to keep NBD time, and very seldom do people come or meetings start at the time they should.


Anyway, he fiddled around for nearly an hour and changed two more zone valves, and we'll see if that solves the problem. One zone valve is the one for the bedroom, and he seemed to think that somehow it had gotten coupled to the one in the bathroom. The other one is the one for the great room, and that's just to try to make it unnecessary for him to come up here during the winter...although I notice he wasn't unhappy about coming last year when he was installing my very expensive humidifier. Sorry, he complains a lot, and with what I'm paying him, it's hard to be sympathetic.


So maybe that has solved my problem? We won't really know until it gets cold and windy again, which it wasn't today.


Anyway, after the plumber left, I had some breakfast and diddled around some, but I did get away around 11:30. It was a relatively painless drive down to Houghton, although the roads were wet and there was a little light drizzle. Curiously enough, somewhere between Phoenix and Mohawk, the plumber caught up with me, having left off his load of PVC piping, and while he stayed behind me, he was moving rather fast when he came up behind me. If he drives that fast all the time, he's overcharging me for travel time. Since it was near lunchtime, he turned into Slim's, which is a fast-order lunch place that has been there forever. The locals all like it, although I'm not sure whether it's because it's cheap or because it's good. I've only been in the place once, for breakfast a very long time ago, and at that time, tourists were not welcome. I think things are different now.


So I continued on to Wal-Mart, where I was very modest for a change. I forbore to get any more storage boxes, but I did get batteries for my garage door remotes and some other stuff, including a baster. It's not as nice as the stainless steel one from Williams-Sonoma, but it didn't cost $22 either.


Since I had eaten relatively early, I decided to stop at what is now called the "Ming Asian Buffet". Lunch was pretty good, and I got there in between the crowds. I didn't eat much - I wasn't that hungry - but I was about the only one who didn't. There was a woman sitting at a table in the window who had at least four plates of food plus dessert. Now, she got her money's worth, which I didn't, but I had some things I like. I like their won-ton soup, their egg rolls and their crab rangoon, which are the best I've had. Today they had something they called "crab puffs" which were yummy. I was glad I got mine when I did, because a guy came in later, and the first thing he did was take six or eight of them. By the time I finished that, I wasn't hungry, so I only had one more small plate, mostly of noodles. I think they do better when it isn't as busy as it sometimes gets in the summertime.


I had hoped that a rest of most of an hour would help me at Econo, but it didn't. That was partly because I had to run down a lot of aisles to find what I wanted. I'm still toying with whether to go to the community dinner on Sunday, but just in case, I wanted to get the makings for a really simple, crustless pecan pie, made with pecans, graham crackers and eggs, mostly. Have you noticed how many different kinds of graham crackers there are these days? Fortunately, they still had a few boxes of the old-fashioned kind. I had a terrible time finding baking powder (and what baking recipe doesn't use that??), so I didn't try to gather the ingredients for a couple of other things I'm thinking about...triple chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies. I might make the cookies for the cookie exchange, and I think maybe I can do the cake for one of the ladies' meetings after the first of the year. Those are two things I'm getting really hungry for, since I haven't had either since well before my mother died.


The cake is just yummy - box cake with pudding and chocolate chips - but the cookies are different. We always made all our cookies with pure butter, and from what I've tasted, very few people do that anymore, or else there isn't enough shortening in the recipe at all. If I'm going to pig out on something like cookies, I want the very best, and that means butter. They freeze well, and If I freeze them in small packages, I should be able to satisfy my chocolate craving for nearly a year. We always used the recipe on the chocolate chips package, but curiously enough, I found one on the box of baking soda I bought a while ago, which got me thinking about cookies again.


When I was at home and first out on my own, I baked Christmas cookies just like my mother did, and it was fun, if exhausting. After I got back to Detroit, I stopped, partly because my mother had practically gone into the business, making a dozen or more different varieties every year (yes, I have all the recipes). She would buy three or four pounds of butter and, I think, flour in 10 pound bags, not to mention different kinds of sugar and all the neat things they have to decorate with. She would have been quite at home at Econo. They have a nice supply of decorations, and besides, at this time of year, they even have pre-ground and cracked nuts, for not all that much money. Not all cookies have nuts in them, but a lot of the best ones do...although I do enjoy a sugar cookie or a spritz or shortbread every so often. Makes me drool just to think about those wonderful plates...nut balls, rum balls, chocolate...mmmm...


Anyway, back to today. By the time I was ready to check out, I was practically ready to check out...I guess that must have been obvious, because everyone was very nice to me. It was really dead in Econo about 3:00 this afternoon, and I was certainly grateful.


Oh, yes, and I ordered a fresh turkey, so I will have to go back on Tuesday, but I figure it's in a good cause, and I don't do that very often. I may get to pick up a few things I forgot, and I can get gas. I prefer fresh turkeys, and this is the same brand I got the last time I made turkey, which would have been good if it hadn't been over-cooked. I also broke down and bought a loaf of plain white bread, since it doesn't seem possible to find Pepperidge Farm bread stuffing here. So I will make my own, from scratch, and hope it comes out all right. My grandma always made hers from scratch, but that was back in the old days, and she had Stahl's bread to start out with. We'll see. If I flavor it up enough, it should be OK. As to the over-cooking, several things: I am thinking about starting it breast-side down as an experiment; I will watch it more closely this time, and I have my wonderful instant read digital thermometer, so I can check up on it more often.


Now is the time to start making lists. I need to get down into the basement (!!) and dig out the big platter from grandma's china, since that is the only large platter I have here. I'm sure I will think of some other things. I'm trying not to make a production out of this, but there are a few things I need to do.


The trip home was punctuated by a few light snow showers, in Calumet and again someplace around Mohawk, and from the sides of the road, it must have snowed rather hard around Mohawk earlier in the day. The rest was just drizzle, and it all went away before I got to the covered road.


The weather was very dreary, but the temperature was around 38º for most of the day. The wind was calm this morning, but it started rising a bit after 1:00, and when I got home (I can't tell you what a thrill it still is to write that!), the lake was speaking, and there was a little white right off the lighthouse. The wind has now risen to the 15-25 mph range, from the northeast. 


I think it will be a good time to sleep tonight. And I need it.


I checked my Gateway order tonight, and amazingly enough, it has all been shipped, and even more amazingly, it is all supposed to arrive (one by UPS, the other by FedEx) tomorrow. I will believe all that when I have it in hand.


The computer hung early this morning and a couple of times while I was on it, but then it was solid until about 4:30, which was not long before I got home. Not that there was much to see, except some dull, lead-gray clouds. Anyway, if the disk does come tomorrow, I've made it through this crisis. 


So that i s about all I know, and it is past time to go to bed. I sweated enough today that I need a bath, but otherwise, I won't be long out of bed, and just maybe I'll sleep better tonight. Hope so.


November 15

It was warm in the north end last night, but my experiment did seem to show that the zone valves for the bathroom and the bedroom are somehow coupled. The plumber will be here (early!) tomorrow morning, and maybe, just maybe, we can finally get this thing solved. I'm getting tired of it.


It was warm enough that I was comfortable with just the sheet blanket for most of the night, but I did sleep better than I have for several nights. I was awake for a while between 4:00 and 6:00, but then I went back to sleep. I looked at the clock at about 8:30 and turned over, and Buster actually came and laid full out beside me for an hour or so. I finally made it out of bed around 10:30.


However for one reason or another, I hadn't eaten anything by 12:30, so I aborted my trip to town. I will have to go tomorrow. I was trying to get a list together and ended up searching for a long time for what I wanted. The desk is a mess. I never did find the prescription the dermatologist gave me for a cream for my legs, so I will have to call about that tomorrow (they aren't there on Wednesdays). Whatever happened to it I simply don't know, but I did get it in the morning before my stress test and before I finished packing the car to come home. It's gone.


Anyway, I just decided leaving so late (it would have been 1:30 or later) wouldn't be very wise, and I would probably come back after dark. Better wait until tomorrow, although if I'd known the plumber was coming, I might have gone. Oh, well.


So I did not much.


The weather was dreary for most of the day, although there was a ray of sunshine while I was doing my morning surfing. The sun is only getting 24º above the horizon at noon, which means it is really very low in the sky...and we have another month or so before it reaches its lowest spot! That is something I will be interested to see, believe me. After that, it clouded up again. There was almost no wind, from the north mostly, and the temperature was around 40º for most of the day. This reminds me of 2001, although it was warmer then. It isn't very often when we get this far in November without a real blow. We'll pay eventually, I'm sure. There is snow on the ground at the higher elevations. The last rain we had here was snow from the Mountain Lodge south.


I need to mention that I will have to try to eat more beets. My ankles have been less swollen this week than they have been for a long time. Of course, that means I'm up any number of times during the night, but that's to be expected. I can also report that roasting the beets leaves a whole lot more dye in them than boiling them. You can guess how I know that. Anyway, peeling the beets isn't any fun at all, and I won't roast them again. There isn't that much more flavor in them that it's worth all the extra effort. After this, I will just throw them in a pot and boil away. and peel them easily.


So that is about all I know, and I need to get to bed early tonight, if I am going to be ambulatory when the plumber comes.


It's another dark, dank and very quiet night in the field.


November 14

Last night was marginally better than the night before - more like Saturday. I slept for a couple of hours, was restless for four or five hours, then slept a bit more. I'm sure I was warm, even though I'm wearing a cotton nightie. Unfortunately, I'm warm under the comforter and cool without it. Bah!


When I got up this morning, the floor in the bedroom was cool, and I had left the magazines I wanted to read in the office, so padded down to the office in my bare feet. The office floors were cold, the great room floors were warm, and the bedroom floors were cold. The bathroom floors were so-so.


There was also a dreaded blue screen on the computer, so I took time to reload that. I'm sure it has something to do with the disk, but I'm not sure what. It hung up a couple of times, but it was a bit better today. Good thing, because there was no change in the status of my Gateway order.


So I read for a while, then I shoved the thermostat in the bedroom up when I came down to the office. After I while, I shoved the one here up, too. I set the one in the office back down when the temperature hit 75º. I think the problem with the cool floors here is that it's fairly warm and not windy outside and the heat isn't coming on much. Or I hope that's the problem.


I haven't been down to the bedroom to see what that thermostat did for the temperature in the bedroom (or in the bathroom, which was what the plumber was interested in). It will no doubt be warm in the bedroom tonight, and I hope it's warm enough that I can find a comfortable temperature. This is getting really old, really fast.


I ended up losing another day, I guess. At least I don't remember doing much except paying a bill and going to the post office. I did read a couple of magazines, and while two issues of Science News came in today's mail (it is supposed to come out every week), I'm nearly caught up on the reading I neglected during the summer. One more issue of Piecework to go, and that's it.


The weather was nondescript again. The temperature went from about 35º overnight to about 42º for most of the afternoon and it has now dropped back again. There was hardly any wind at all, and in fact, the harbor was almost calm for most of the day. There was a little red in the sky for a short time tonight, but the camera was acting up again and all the pictures I took were out of focus. That thing...


Anyway, that is about all I know, and it's time to toddle off to the north end. I have plans for tomorrow.


November 13

Wow! That was not a good night! I wasn't hot, and I wasn't uncomfortable, and my mind wasn't going in circles, but I only dozed until about 6:00 this morning, even though I was in bed by 10:00. After that, I did OK, but it was nearly noon before I finally got up, and then I finished my magazine, so I had a severely truncated day.


I might have gotten up earlier, but when I looked out onto the harbor and at the windows and things, it was dribbling rain. Yuck.


As a result of all that, I haven't been up very long today, and I'm tired again, so I guess I will try the early-to-bed thing again and see if maybe, just maybe, I can catch up.


It was a very sleepy kind of day. It rained from about 7:00 until 1:00, lightly but persistently. It did rain some more later, but not enough to register at the NWS station. The temperature dipped down to 35º for a couple of hours this morning, but otherwise, it has been around 39º all day, with almost no wind at all until 6:00, when it got up to 10 mph or so from the northwest. A very drippy, dark, damp day altogether. Yuck.


I actually did accomplish something. Not much, but something. I got the magazines sorted and stored away, although unfortunately the pile of "current" magzines is till 12" high. And I more or less sorted out the catalogs, although there is one overflowing basket I need to go through again. I keep wondering how much cheaper places like Pottery Barn or Eddie Bauer would be if they only sent out catalogs as often as Lands End or one of my favorite needlework sites (Nordic Needle). When the pile of catalogs (if I could pile them that high) reaches 24", and half of them are duplicates with only the front cover different, I begin go wonder both about mail order merchandising and tree-killing.


I also had a chat with the plumber about the situation in my bathroom. I've had the thermostat set at 90º for three or four days, and the door closed, and the temperature finally got to 75º this morning, but the floor isn't really warm. He may come later in the week.


The computer was acting up again today, and the only good news is that my order number is now in the database, although it is marked as "processing". Since I did the order on November 3 and got the last glitches straightened out on the 9th, I wonder why it is taking so long to process my order? 


So that is all there is, and I need to go back to bed.


November 12

I did read for a while last night, but I got to bed at a reasonable time. And I didn't sleep well for the second night in a row. I think I was probably warm. I was up frequently, and in between I didn't sleep really deeply. So I am tired tonight, and I think I will try the same thing tonight.


As a result, I didn't do anything much at all today. I did cook up my beets. Maybe roasting beets in foil makes them more flavorful (I'm not sure about that), but it also makes them a lot harder to peel. In fact, I didn't finish peeling them. Tomorrow. I keep reminding myself that Mark Bittman is a man and men tend to have a rather strange slant on food and cooking. I also keep remembering that he is the person who 1) uses either onions or garlic in his recipes, but never both and 2) never mixes dairy with meat, even though he doesn't say he cooks Kosher. I will see how the beets taste tomorrow before I decide, but I think after this, I will be boiling my beets just like I always did. Then the skins slip right off, almost without a knife. I'd also like to  know what he means by a "thin-bladed knife", but that's another story.


I also made one of my favorite quick chicken recipes - the one with mushroom soup, only this time, I cooked egg noodles instead of rice. I was getting hungry for noodles, which are one of my favorite comfort foods. It turns out they go just as well with the chicken as rice does, so I had a nice dinner. I was wet and dripping before I was through, but I had on a heavy sweatshirt, and that's what usually happens.


I still have to put everything away, but that shouldn't take long.


The weather was a little different. Until about 3:00 we had partial sunshine, then it got really dark, although there wasn't any rain. What was different is that we had wind from almost due south, in the 20-30 mph range and very gusty. It isn't often we have winds from just that direction, and I kept wondering what was that noise outside the east windows...it was the grove of trees behind the house being blown around. The temperature was around 39º all day long.


Buster came and wanted to sit on me for most of the afternoon, until I finally had to tell him to go away. He was batting his tail around so much he was moving the mouse, and I don't quite know why.


And I guess that is about all I know. I'm tired. I want to sleep. Maybe tongight?


November 11

It was a horrible night. I got to bed just after 11:30, and I slept until 2:30, and after that I dozed and tossed and walked and...so I plan to go to bed nice and early tonight. When I woke up at 2:30, I noticed that I couldn't see the lights of the public dock, and when I went into the bathroom after a few minutes I realized that there was a coating of snow on the garage roof. By the time I got back into bed, the squall was over, and I don't think it snowed anymore for the rest of the night. There was maybe an inch on the decks.


Adam said he would be here around 9:00, so I hauled myself out of bed at about 8:45. I knew he wouldn't be on time, but I didn't count on his not getting here until 10:30. I could have used another hour's sleep.


Anyway, he came, and pretty much all the outside work is taken care of. He and his guys cut down four trees, two of which we added to my new woodpile. He brought about a cord of wood with him, and we will let the birch and the jack pine cure until next year. The storm door inserts are in, the pond pump and the water pump into the lake are winterized, and a few other minor things are taken care of. The lock for the door between the breezeway and the garage is now on the breezeway side, even though the handle curves differently from the other handles. So? Out there, what difference?


I had to do some walking around and some standing to show them what I wanted done, and where, so when they left, I was exhausted, and I spent the rest of the afternoon doing nothing much.


One thing they did was to take the window sashes down into the basement, so now I really have no excuse for not getting them stained and varnished. He wants to have his guys do it, but Adam is expensive, so I think I can do that myself...not that there is any hurry. I also don't think I want anybody opening my windows until next spring.


We did start the fireplace, and while the fire went out - not enough kindling - we did determine that the fireplace draws extremely well, and the fans work like they're supposed to. They left me some kindling and some birch bark to use for fire starter, and I will have to try that exercise again. I am pleased to report that there wasn't anything in the chimney, so what Buster has been hearing (ever since we've been here) is beyond me.


A while after everybody left, I was in the powder room, and Buster crawled through the cat door from the basement. I wonder where he was when Adam and I were down there? I'll never know.


There was an occasional fall of very fine snow or something during the day,l but mostly it was just cold and raw. The temperature when they got here was around freezing, with a 10-15 mph wind out of the north. In the course of the afternoon, the wind dropped off, and the temperature is now 30º.  I was out wandering around with just my lightweight fleece overshirt on, and while I wouldn't say I was exactly warm, I wasn't freezing, either, except for my hands, so it really wasn't all that bad. Standing around wasn't so good, but if we were doing anything, it was fine.


I don't remember if I've mentioned that during the past few gales, I have been hearing something banging someplace upstairs. Adam took a tour around the house and he says everything looks solid, and he thinks it is a pair of trees rubbing against each other. I don't, but I'll have to check that out. The trouble is, I really don't want to be wandering around in the yard when the wind is blowing 30 mph or more and the temperature is in or below the 30s. That's too cold!!


I do have to say that looking out the front windows, especially from the kitchen, is really strange. I miss my trees, even though they were dead. It looks so bare out there! There won't be nearly so many branches on the decks or in the pond, though, and that's good. I was really sad when the big birch died. I did like that tree, and besides, it was shade for the front of the house. But since it was dead, it's better that it come down and get turned into firewood than rot and risk falling on the house. I dodged that bullet, and I can't expect my luck to hold forever. It's good be rid of the red pine at the south side of the garden that died. I could see it out the south windows of the office, and it was ugly. The fourth tree was a jack pine that was not more than a couple of feet from the northwest corner of the garage, and even though it just died last year, it was deteriorating rapidly. Some of the bark had already fallen off, and I noticed, in the last blow, that it was leaning toward the garage. If it hadn't been there, I wouldn't have cut it down, because it was all full of woodpecker holes already, and I like to feed the woodpeckers. There are a lot of dead birches in the rest of the yard that they can use for food, though.


So that was my day. The bird feeders are almost empty, so I will have to take care of that detail tomorrow, because the little birds were around all day long and I like to keep them happy.


I finally figured out how to free up a file box for my magazines, so I will try to get that done tomorrow, too.


I tried on my new jeans this morning, and I am sorry to report that while Land's End resized their regular jeans, they did not resize their fancy, expensive stretch jeans, so I will have to send them back. Just as well, I guess, because I don't really like the color, and the fabric isn't as thick as I thought it would be. So I guess I will just continue to get regular, non-stretch jeans. I mostly wanted this pair because they had "boot-cut" legs (actually, I'd call them bell-bottoms, but then that was the '60s name). The last pairs of regular relaxed-fit jeans I bought fit fine and have slightly wider legs than they used to, so I will just have to stick with those.


And I guess that just about covers everything.


November 10

Let's see, what happened  since last night?


I'm sleeping rather well lately, and rather long, and it was a quiet night last night, so I did well. The camera didn't hang up overnight last night, so we got the early morning pictures, not that they were so spectacular. It was a gray November day, with about a 15 mph wind from the north, and a temperature in the middle 30s. That is, until about 8:00, when the wind picked up to 25 mph, and the lake began to speak loudly.


I fiddled around for a good part of the day. Mac came in the afternoon to fetch the tractor, and the battery was dead (his fault), so he had the driveway clogged up for quite a while. He got it going just about the time I needed to go to the post office, which was handy, since I think it was Tuesday when I last went. I had a bunch of mail and three packages (good  - now maybe I have a new pair of jeans to wear and I don't need to wash).


I got to working on the files again, and all of 2003 is done, and I have only July and August of this year to go and that chore will be done. Then I guess I am duty bound to begin on the ledger...shudder!


When I read through the June journal, I was really surprised at how little I remembered. I think I remembered more about 2003.  That's the trouble with writing it down. It all just drains out.


I had dinner with a friend I met through the ladies' group, who is a reader of the site, and that was most pleasant, although we were almost the only people in Mariner, and Gilly kicked us out at 9:00. Anyway, she is a nice lady, and I had a pleasant time.


Adam called to say he will be here tomorrow morning at 9:00 with a load of wood and some chain saws, so I need to be at least up and dressed by then. It won't be nearly so nice a day as it was last Saturday, but that's his problem, not mine.


I need to be up and attem because, as I think I forgot to mention, I discovered the other day that the button battery in the garage remote I keep in the house is dead, so in order to open the garage, I have to go out into it. I have been avoiding the online stores, because I've already run up both credit cards too much this month, but I do need that remote.


So that was another quiet day, and I'm off to try to get as much sleep as possible. The lake is singing its song, and that will sing me to sleep.


November 9

The trouble with reading my old journals is that I forget what happened today...if anything.


Contrary to all the weather predictions, it was a windy night in the field last night. The wind was in the 20-35 mph from the northwest (also not predicted) all night long. The temperature started out in the middle 50s and by morning it was in the low 40s, where it stayed all day long. The winds eventually got up to a sustained speed in the low 30s with gusts up over 40 mph. Very noisy. It has calmed down some now, though. The wind is around 20 mph and it has shifted to the north, and the temperature is below 40º. It was dull and cloudy all day long, except for one ray of sunshine around 11:15, I saved the picture, because there haven't been very many lately, and I thought it was rather nice. Here it is. Looks pretty wintry, doesn't it? Notice the angle of the bird feeder up in the corner. That was while the winds were in the 30-40 mph range.


Amazingly enough, a few stalwart birds did visit the feeders today, mostly chickadees, I think.


I spent most of the afternoon working on the journals, and I now only have six files to go to be completely caught up, except for the pictures. Adding the picture files, even when they are shrunk down to fit on a 5½" x 8½" page, makes the files incredibly large, so I haven't been doing that. For one thing, Laplink couldn't handle a file of over 50 mb at all. Now that I have my TravelDisk, I will have to think about what to do about that. I would really like to print off a copy and bind it. I find leafing through a book is a lot easier than trying to leaf through five years' worth of disk files.


Otherwise, it was a dull day and the only other things I accomplished was to wash dishes and hunt through my mother's recipe file to find the pecan pie that was so easy...no crust, no corn syrup, not much of anything but pecans and graham crackers. It's good anyway, and I thought I might take that to the community potluck.


Oh, no, that isn't right. I am staring right at the wall where the pile of catalogs used to be. I still have several piles of catalogs, and I haven't gotten at the magazines at all, but I also have one very full orange bag. I think I may be able to get rid of even more as I go through the piles that are left. It's time to start another file box of magazines, and that will fill another orange bag and decrease the pile to reasonable proportions.


It is also time to begin to catch up on my ledger, which I have ignored since about March, and I'm not looking forward to that at all, but better I do it now than wait until January or later, when I need those numbers for the taxes.


I did have trouble with the disk today, which is why there weren't a whole lot of webcam pictures. I also had another conversation with Gateway. When I talked to the guy yesterday, he said no, they didn't need my billing address...well, today I got a call from the woman who sold me the disk, saying, yes indeed, they needed my billing address. I thought so. Mastercard wasn't going to stand still for an address that wasn't where they send their bills! Christina seemed to think I might get something next week. I hope so. It is getting tiresome to have to continually reboot. I keep wondering what we will do if the new disk doesn't solve the problem, but it is definitely the first step. She assures me that getting the boot sectors onto the new disk isn't hard, and I am planning to copy the entire C: disk to the TravelDisk before I even call her, in the hope that I can avoid that incredibly painful update of every single piece of software on my system. Keep my fingers crossed.


So that is all I know, and while the wind isn't battering the house anymore, the lake is still singing, so it will be a good night to sleep.


November 8

Wonder of wonders, FrontPage is back to normal again. It didn't try to copy any extraneous files last night. That was a relief.


So I went up to the north end and almost finished my book, and I did finish it this morning. I enjoyed that one, and besides, it's a good reference for when people start talking about the weather here.


I actually wasn't too late going to bed last night, and I did sleep well. The harbor was calm and foggy all night long, and it was calm and foggy for most of the day. There was some rain overnight, and some more during the day. Now there is quite a wind blowing out of the southwest, and that may clear up the atmosphere a bit.


The temperature was 45º all night and 50 until a couple of hours ago, and it has now risen to 56º, with a west wind. Radar shows that there is rain south and west of us, so I suppose we are in for some more.


I sort of fiddled around today, I guess. I wanted to email Karl Bohnak (the author of the book), and there were a couple of things I wanted to check before I did, so I got to looking at some old journals, and then I decided to start processing some of them into Word documents, sorted in chronological order. So that is what I did until, on the eighth file, the computer hung up and I had to reboot.


The computer hung between 7:15 and 7:30 this morning, but only twice since. Which is a good thing, because I called Gateway about my order this afternoon and discovered that there was a hold on it...they had my Champine address (and telephone number, as it turned out) in their system and somebody questioned it. While I'm not happy that the order was held up, I am glad somebody questioned the address! I think they have that straightened out now, but I still have no idea when I may see my stuff. So as long as the disk behaves itself, I can wait.


I was processing the journals from 2002, and that was interesting. That was the summer of my blocked vein, and it was interesting to read over. It was also while DC was still with us, and that was interesting, too. I still miss him!


What was interesting is, DC was a very vocal cat, and at one point I mentioned that Buster wasn't. I really think that Buster let DC do all the talking for both of them, because DC had a better vocabulary and I understood him better. Believe me, now Buster is at least as vocal as DC was, maybe more! He still doesn't have the vocabulary, but he is learning how to speak and I am learning to understand him better, I think. He still uses the same sounds to mean several different things, which DC didn't, but at least some of the time I can divine what he means from the context. 


Anyway, the computer hung up in the middle of August, when I was in Detroit, so I want to read through the end of the month after I get this uploaded.


One of these days, I have to do something useful around here, but for tonight, after I read through August, I think I will go to bed. It's a warm, windy and possibly wet night in the field tonight.


November 7

FrontPage actually did copy the rest of the web successfully last night, or I think it did. We'll see what it does tonight. I can hardly believe it, unless there were issues with the wireless that I wasn't aware of that have finally been cleared up. Or maybe it was that instead of doing nothing while it was copying, I was playing an online game that occasionally talked to the net. We'll never know, I guess.


I went up to the north end, but then I got to reading about floods, and it was ridiculously late before I got to bed, which meant it was late when I got up this morning, and it was a lost day, pretty much.


The disk hung up at around 7:15 this morning, which is before daylight, and it hung on me a couple of times while I was doing  my morning surfing, but it's been OK since. so I don't know what's with it. I tried to check my order with Gateway last night and couldn't find it, so I don't know what's with that, either.


Not that there was much to see. It was a moist, foggy day, with almost no wind. The temperature dropped overnight and settled around 45º, where it sat all day long.


The tasks of the day were to return the mail bin to Clyde and vote. Clyde wasn't busy, and he was in a talkative mood today, so we had a nice conversation. His opinion is that everyone in the county (with, if he was pinned to the wall, a few exceptions) should take their turn in government. I'm not sure I agree with him, and I for sure know I don't want to be part of it. I had too much politics when I was working.


Anyway, it was quiet when I got to the Community Center, so I had a nice conversation with the ladies. However, it seems I have moved into another community that believes in voting. There are 217 registered voters in this precinct, and I was number 118, at about 1:30. I'd say that's pretty good, considering that they have to come in from all over.


We have two booths and a touch-screen. Fortunately, all three of them are sit-down booths. It was quite a ballot, with a bunch of amendments to the state constitution, and some millage increases. I think it probably took me 20 minutes or more to mark my ballot, and read through all the propositions.


I still wonder what would happen in the cases where there are two names on the ballot, and the instructions say "vote for not more than two" in that category, if nobody voted for any of them - just left that part blank. Would they get into office by default, or would nobody be elected, leaving the offices open? I know they do that in case you want to write in a person, but still, it's always made me wonder.


While I haven't said anything much here, because this is not a political forum and I don't want to make it one, I feel rather strongly about some of the issues in this election, and I'm glad to see and hear that I'm not the only one. The greatest tragedy in this country lately is the way so many people seem to feel their vote doesn't count so they never do.


If you haven't voted, you have no right to complain about the kind of government you get. If you care about the kind of government you get, you'd better vote.


Otherwise, I did absolutely nothing, and I'm tired, so I think I'm going to try to get to bed early tonight. Didn't I say that last night? All I have to do is keep from picking up that book...


It's a moist, foggy night in the field tonight.


November 6

FrontPage is still dying while it tries to copy the picture files, but at least now it is getting the journal up there. I haven't checked to see if any picture files are empty, but I will look tonight. What a pain! 


I think I was in bed at a reasonable hour last night, but I didn't really look at the clock, and I slept very well indeed. The sky was light from the moon, but except early this morning when it didn't quite shine through the clouds, it was cloudy all night.


I was up early enough this morning that I'm tired now. I figured I might as well get up, since I was beginning to thrash around. There were some high clouds (cirrocumulus, I think) in the sky when I got up, but it was sunny, ans as the day wore on, the clouds pretty much went away, at least until the middle of the afternoon, when a new area of cirrus started to appear out of the west. They eventually covered most of the sky, and they sort of spoiled the sunset. 


They also spoiled my plan to try to see the comet tonight. This isn't a spectacular comet, which was discovered in some satellite picture, but it should be visible to the naked eye, if the sky is clear and dark.


Big IF around here at this time of year!


As I've said before in such circumstances, it seems like the elements conspire to make sure it will be cloudy here if there is some sky phenomenon that is supposed to happen. There were meteors last weekend, and Mercury is going to transit the sun on Wednesday, but the weekend was cloudy and clouds are forecast for the rest of the week. Maybe that's why I've been trying to learn more about the clouds.


Today was a really lovely late-fall day, though. The temperature got up to around 56º, and it was mostly sunny, with southwest wind that was sometimes rather strong but at other times was nearly calm. All the sunshine really warmed up the house: it is still 77º in the office, and the sun set 5 hours ago. It was nice to be really warm, even too warm, for a change.


Kim came, and I now have a much cleaner house, although the kitchen is still a mess and I haven't unpacked those suitcases or done anything about the stuff in the breezeway. I did get the cat dishes and casseroles unwrapped and put away, so that was something. My back is still bothering me when I stand up for very long, so I didn't do a lot.


I did have a good dinner - steak and a twice-baked potato. There is some interesting stuff in my freezer, for sure. Unfortunately, it is sort of thrown in there, so I can't really tell what I have. I will have to do some organizing one of these days.


Other than the unpacking, about all I did was to go through the catalogs and magazines that were on the floor and put the ones I want to keep in a basket.


I did get out the pocket sky atlas and the planisphere and determine exactly where I should look for the comet...and then it clouded up. Poo.


So now I will trundle down the hall and sleep again. I do need to report that for the past week or so I have been able to sleep on my left side in a normal fashion, until my ear or my shoulder or my hip gets sore. One of the teeth is still very sensitive to heat, but it is getting better, so that crisis is pretty much over. It is really nice to be able to sleep on both sides again. I had forgotten that last year, because of the biopsy in my neck, it was sometime in October before I could sleep on my right side. Now maybe all that is over and I can go back to a normal pattern. 


I don't guess I've said much about the fly situation. I thought, until the sun came out, that the worst of the first fly infestation was over with, and I really think it is, for the time being. However, there are still flies in the house, and I expect they will continue to come in waves all winter. 


Buster caught something last night not long after I went to bed. I'm not sure what it was, but there was a dead shrew in the kitchen when Kim swept it up today. Cats apparently don't eat shrews. I'm glad he caught it, though. Shrews act pretty much like mice, and I don't want any of them in my house. I was wondering about Buster, because the cataract on his left eye is getting visibly worse, but it doesn't seem to be interfering with his mousing yet.


He vanished when Kim came, but I think he was sitting right behind the basement door, because he appeared as soon as her car pulled out of the driveway. That's a shame, because Kim likes cats, too, but she does rustle around, and he doesn't like to be around when stuff like cleaning is going on.


The computer made it through the night, and it was pretty stable until late this afternoon. That gives me some breathing room, which is nice. I would like the camera not to be down for an extended period again. There were a couple of times when the wireless was so slow I almost called PastyNet, but someone else must have noticed a problem, because it cleared up after a while.


So there we are, and it's a nice fall evening with a little moonshine.


November 5

Well, we got more than halfway through the upload last night before it timed out. I can't tell from the error message, whether it is actually the FTP that is timing out or the disk access here that is timing out. If it continues after the new disk is installed, I will be talking to PastyNet. This shouldn't happen.


I'm still thinking about installing that disk. I don't know how to get the boot sectors onto the disk, but after that, I'm seriously thinking about making an exact copy of what's on C: now onto the TravelDIsk, and then just copying it back and see what happens. I do not, if there is any other way to do it, want to have to load that 6" stack of CDs I have sitting there.


Curiously enough, we made it through the night OK. I needed to do a virus scan, which I left running when I went to bed,  and it completed and everything was running when I got here this morning, so we got pretty much a full day's worth of pictures. There were a couple of hangs during the day, but mostly when I was doing something, so I could reboot right away.


I just reset the camera parameters, to capture between 6:50AM and 6:20PM. We have only 9¾ hours of daylight now, and it is still getting shorter at nearly 3 minutes a day, so this is the beginning of the dark season.


I am not quite sure why webcams don't seem to be able to capture the complete range of colors in low light situations, but they don't, so the last pictures of the day don't show anything like the colors I could see. It was one of those situations where the entire sky turned orangish for a few minutes, and the Nikon wouldn't have gotten the effect either. All the camera saw was some yellowish tint on the surface of the very calm harbor. 


It was a dull, dark, dreary day, with almost no wind and no sun. There were a few brief rain showers, but nothing to do more than dampen the deck. It got up to a very humid 44º, and there was almost no wind at all. There were patches on the harbor tonight that were just like a mirror. I was outside briefly, to put out the bird feeders, and it wasn't very nice. I did locate both my thermometer and the platform feeder, both of which blew away in the gales. I will try to get out to get them tomorrow.


No wonder my back and my knees are troubling me, with the cool temperatures and the humidity. That is my worst kind of weather. And I guess it is supposed to be about the same all week, though. I guess if I complain my fellow citizens will be all over me, though - at least it isn't snow!


I did get to bed before midnight last night, for a change, but I had to get up before I really wanted to because I was getting twitchy. I didn't do very much again, and the house is a mess for Kim, who is coming tomorrow, I think. Oh, well. She will cope. I did process the October and September journals, partly because I wanted to read through them, and I cataloged the CDs I got this week, but that was about it. Reading through a month's journal to correct all the typing and grammar errors takes a while, of course. I'm sorry I'm not diligent enough to run these things through Word before I publish them - FrontPage doesn't catch grammar errors (or what Word thinks are grammar errors!), and I seem to have a hard time seeing all the flagged misspellings in FrontPage. There were several remarkable typing errors that I never saw until today. I hope they didn't confuse anybody.


So that was my day, and I am going to try hard not to pick up a book when I go to the north end. I have been reading The Cloudspotter's Guide, which is by a Brit, and I've been finding it most interesting, although he reminds me a lot of fanatic birders. I don't need to know all the varieties of all the types of cloud in order to enjoy them or report them here. Just now, for example, the moon, which was full  yesterday, is shining in the east windows through some kind of cirrus clouds and showing a bit of a halo at times. That's enough of a description, I think. I was interested to learn that those whitish skies we've had so many of over the past summer are caused by cirrostratus clouds, although what makes them hang around for weeks at a time isn't so clear. And so far nothing in the book has talked about the situation we get around here quite a lot - where there may be low-, middle- and high-level clouds overhead at the same time. But it is still an interesting book, with a lot of fascinating anecdotes. British people still get a far more wide-ranging education than most Americans do and they are not at all afraid to flout what they know.


Cloudspotter's and So Cold a Sky sort of fit together, I think, which is why I've been reading both at once. Cloudspotter's is easier to put down, though, because it is divided into smaller sections. But not tonight. I'm tired.


Oh, but one more thing. When I was out on the deck this morning, I was most surprised to see a whole lot more beach than I have ever seen before at this place. The water is really low right now, and I have two or three more feet of pebbles. It is possible to see lots of beach from the deck. Usually I can't see any. Very interesting, and I hope we do have a lot of precip over the winter to begin to get the levels up. I know they are cyclic, and I have confidence that they will rise again, but it's always a little worrisome when they keep going down rather than up. I think we felt the same way when they were exceptionally high.


And another thing. Friday afternoon, when I was on the phone with Gateway, I was glancing out the window, and a flock of snow buntings flew across the driveway and around the back of the trees. I think it's been three or four years since I've seen any at all, and I'm glad they're back. I'm pretty sure they are seed feeders, but I don't know if they will come to the feeders or not. This winter I intend to get my winter birdbath installed, and maybe they will come to it?


I think that's caught up on almost everything for the week.


November 4

Well, let me see what I can do with this tonight. By the time I got ready to upload, something was wrong with PastyNet, and it wasn't responding to FTP at all, and on top of that, I think the disk began crapping out again. I think I tried for an hour and a half to two hours, and I couldn't even do a direct copy, using Explorer, so finally I just gave up, turned off the computer, and went down the hall.


Unfortunately, I didn't go to bed. I took another book with me (even though I haven't finished the first one). This one is Karl Bohnak's book So Cold a Sky, which I've mentioned before, and it is truly fascinating. He has a relatively good piece on the Fitzgerald, and he has a really interesting one on the winter of 2001-2002.


I remember that one, because when I left here, around the 15th of November, the temperature was 60º and I loaded the car in a t-shirt (well...you know what I mean). Then in March and April of 2002, all hell broke loose, and I think that may be the year that, when I drove from Munising to Marquette the Friday before Mother's Day, there was still ice (and an awful lot of fog) in the lake, and I think (I'll have to check back) there was still ice in the harbor when I got here.


There are also pieces on winters from the 70s to the late 90s that, while I wasn't following conditions here so closely, I can remember  in Detroit...the winter of '77-'78 when I got stuck in three parking lots and my neighbors had to push me up my driveway twice, and which prompted me to buy the first Blazer the next spring...and a couple in between when I was commuting either to Troy or Bellville. It's funny that he didn't include the winter of 2000-2001, but I guess that was more of an "ordinary" 300-inch winter here. It was in Southeastern Michigan that December and January were exceptionally snowy...Debbie and I will never forget that one, for sure!


Anyway, in the summer it would have been getting light before I finally got to bed. Tonight I will try hard not to do that. I didn't get my full compliment of sleep and I'm tired.


Not that it was much of a day to look at. It was cloudy and gray all day, with  almost no wind...when I went to bed, I could hear the bell buoy...and a temperature that went down to 25º overnight, but got up to about 39º all day.


So around noon, when I got here, after I reset the antenna, the broadband was fine, and the computer was so-so. I had one short time period when I thought maybe, just maybe, it wasn't going to load. I sure do hope that disk drive gets here soon! I guess I should be backing up files to the TravelDisk every night. 


I did look at all my disks last night, and while I have a pile about 6" high that will need to be loaded, I think between the "downloads" file folder, which I have backed up, and the disks, all I would be missing are a few games, and I do have all the receipt emails, so I should be able to download those, too. Some of the game makers are doing their downloads into the "temp" folders these days, and I throw those away every night. But oh boy, is that going to be a pain! However, if it clears up my problem it will be worth the effort.


I finally made it to the post office, and I came home with a postal service bin full of stuff. I didn't feel like going out in the gale, and Thursday and Friday I was in the middle of some computer thing when it was time to go. The Christmas catalogs are starting to come in, and a whole passel of my bimonthly magazines come out in November. There were also a couple of packages. Lotsa stuff! 


The benefits package came sometime during the week, too, but I don't intend to make any changes to that. I was curious about the dental package, after having had two crowns in a year, but the price has gone up and the benefits have gone down. It only allows for one crown every five years - which wouldn't have done me any good at all - and it is a PPO plan to boot. I doubt if my dentist is "in network", and the out-of-network and traditional plans stink. That's good, because the Medicare Supplemental plan costs have gone up.


Like a lot of other people, I do believe the health system is broken and needs to be fixed soon, but I doubt either political party has the will to do what really needs to be done.


Anyway, that, and looking at a couple other magazines, occupied me until dinner time. There were just a few people in Mariner tonight, but I got to have the other special that I didn't have last night - lasagna. I've only had occasion to have Peggy's lasagna with the buffet, when I couldn't eat much, if any, so I was happy to have the chance for a meal. Of course, they served enough for two meals, so I brought half of it home. It's good. I do like her tomato sauce, and there is just a little heat in the lasagna, which makes it quite tasty.


When I left the restaurant, it had been drizzling very lightly, so it wasn't very nice out. No wonder my knees and my back have been bothering me! Damp, cool weather is the worst. I also seem to have developed some arthritis in the back of my left wrist, which makes it quite painful to lift anything heavy in that hand, like the mail bin. I first got that sometime last summer, and I hoped it would go away. Obviously, it hasn't.


So that is about all I know. Maybe I will be a bit less groggy tomorrow. It's a dark, dank night in the field tonight - no moonshine for us tonight.


November 3

FrontPage still wants to copy the entire web again, and it still can't do it, so I was late getting done last night, then I made the mistake of taking a book with me when I went up to the north end. As a result, I was very late getting to bed last night, so I was late getting up this morning, and I really wanted to go back to sleep, but I couldn't. When I checked last year, the same thing was happening then, too, and it wasn't until I got onto dial backup that I got a good copy. I may actually have to disconnect the broadband and go on dial backup eventually to stop this nonsense.


The computer had hung up again overnight, but I don't think there was much to see before I reset it this morning, It was a dull, gray day, with an occasional snow squall (not very frequent). The temperature hung at about 34º until about 5:00, then it dropped to 30º. The wind was relatively strong early in the day, but it is now calm. When I went to dinner, there was an almost-full-moon shining in the east, and little glittering flakes coming down. The squall around 5:00 had dropped maybe a quarter inch of snow, but it stuck. Coming down the hill to the Lake Lily culverts was, um, interesting. I'm in auto-4WD.


The computer hung several times this morning, so I finally decided that it was time to call Gateway again. Actually, I started by trying to use their online chat service, but after an hour of typing and waiting (apparently the person on the other end of the line doesn't type very well), I gave up and called. Fortunately, I got a person this time who seems to know what she's doing. Or I hope she does, because the conclusion is that my hard drive is failing, so I have a new one coming. I'm not looking forward to that at all. I will have to install Windows from scratch, and I've never done that before. I can assure you, the camera will be down for a day or two, while I first get the operating system and Office onto the new disk, then update it, then get all the other files copied over. Thank goodness for the TravelDisk! I expect I will probably just copy the entire C: drive to it and worry about what's there later. What a pain! However, the alternative is a new computer right now and I don't feel I'm in a position to do that. Maybe next year, after the house sells, but not now.


So that took most of the afternoon. It is nice to have the broadband back, and it has been working very nicely. I can do my morning surfing in about a quarter of the time it was taking on the laptop, and besides, I get everything. I was dealing with pages with half a comic strip on it, and some pages that wouldn't load right at all. I don't know why, but oh, well.


I did go to dinner tonight, and it was really dead in Copper Harbor. Mariner didn't even have their dinner menu, but they did have a couple of specials that were hard to choose between. However, I had never had an enchilada before, so I had that, and it was good, and so big I brought part of it home with me. It will make a good lunch. I did get to chat with Peggy, and that was nice. There has been a lot more snow in Calumet than we've gotten, which is an interesting effect I've seen before.


So that was my (rather expensive) day, and maybe tonight I can get to bed at a reasonable hour? I wonder.


November 2

Well, maybe things will be better tonight. I am back on the desktop, for one thing. The power supply arrived about 3:00 today, and I immediately tore into the case and replaced the old one. It works, and so far it looks like nothing else was effected. This supply isn't as noisy as the old one was, which is nice.


I also had to copy all the stuff that changed back to the TravelDisk and then to the desktop, but I brought up the camera while I did it. Not that there was much to see; it was a dull, gray day mostly.


Anyway, maybe I can catch up on the things I was trying to catch up on last night.


First of all, it was on All Hallows Eve 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, and started the Reformation, thanks be to God.


November 1 is All Saints' Day, when we remember our dearly departed. The list gets longer every year.


On Tuesday (Halloween) morning, while I was sitting in the bathroom, there were three grouse (locally known as partridge) in a bushy bunch of dead and regenerating birches. They were eating something off some small twigs in the vicinity, but I couldn't tell what they were. While I was watching, a pair of downy woodpeckers flew into the dead branches and pecked a bit, but evidently they didn't find anything because they flew off.


And that brings me to some really old business. When I was in Detroit the first time, from the 3rd to the 5th of October, while I was eating my breakfast one morning, I saw both a junco and a white-crowned sparrow. It seems to me that was pretty early for both of those birds to be so far south.


Over the past days, with the wind, the house got really cold, so yesterday I went back to last year to check whether it was cold then, too. Yup, it was. OK. While I really like the idea of radiant heat under the floor, I have to admit that for a house like this one in a climate like this it isn't the best system to have. It has finally warmed up to where I had the thermostats set, except for the bathroom, where I have had the thermostat at 90º and the temperature has only gotten to 72º. Apparently another call to the plumber is in order.


I am not quite sure what was wrong with the laptop last night, except that it had been on for about 3 days straight and laptops aren't used to that. I shut it down last night, and it was fine today. Anyway, I tried three times to write a rather long entry, and every time, I would get almost done and try to go off to IE and the whole computer would hang up. After the third time, I just said oh, forget it!


As a result of all that, I was late getting to bed, but with the wind and the surf, I slept very well, with only two interruptions, although I just made it to the bathroom at 10:30 this morning. My bladder has a finite capacity, which I seem to reach in about 3 hours.


The surf sang and the wind blew all night, and it is still singing and blowing. The wind has been in the 20-35 mph range for the past couple of days, although we did get a few gusts over 40 mph on Tuesday. The temperature has been steady at just over freezing today - yesterday it was just under freezing. There was enough snow overnight to leave a light coating on the ground and on parts of the deck, but it is melting now. There were more snow showers yesterday and overnight than there were today. Yesterday it seemed like the squalls came down the harbor one after another all day long. Today it was just dull and gray, with a few peeks at a blue sky, but hardly any sunshine. It looks like we are in for a period of more calm for the next few days, so maybe Adam can come on Saturday after all.


I had a nice conversation with him last night. It seems the reason I hadn't heard from him is that he was waiting for me to call. A simple misunderstanding. That's all right. Now that I am back here for good, I have more of a chance to get things arranged for him.  And I just found out that I will need him to do things like the storm doors and the pump into the lake next year. OK, I can handle that. He is also going to try to round up a cord of wood for me and find somebody to work on the generator. Those are the two items on the must-do list for the fall.


It was still too windy to put out the bird feeders today, but maybe tomorrow I can do it. I am also going to have to go out under the tree and retrieve my thermometer again. I can't believe it blew out of the tree, so maybe I had a visitor who thought it was good to eat? I hope not, because I'd like to leave the feeders out at night. Anyway, I hope the thermometer is under the tree again, and not completely gone.


There were some other things I was thinking about last night that are gone now. 


Winter does seem to be coming early, compared to last year's, but I think we will be as prepared as possible for it. I am just glad I am not contemplating a trip to Detroit with the cat and a month or five of exile from the field. I am still so glad to be here.


It is early tonight, but I feel the need to go to bed early and catch up on my sleep tonight. I do hope this stupid program doesn't want to copy the whole web again, but we'll deal with that hassle when we have to. If I have to go to dial backup to make it work, I will. Apparently the wireless is more inclined to lose bytes than the dialup is, and the FTP program that is part of FrontPage doesn't have good error recovery at all. So we'll see what happens. 


It certainly is good to be back on the big computer again. For some reason, the keyboard on the laptop made the cursor jump around in a most annoying fashion, and I had to do a lot of retyping. I was sort of getting the hang of it, but this keyboard is much more solid. 


So we are back in business, and all is calm in the field tonight.


November 1

The fourth time is it.


I have tried three times to write an entry for tonight, and the computer has hung every time, so I give up. I'm here, the house is warming up, the wind is still blowing and the lake-effect snow squalls are getting more frequent. The computer has been acting weird all day. 


Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow.


Last  updated 08/04/11 08:45 PM