A View From the Field








January, 2007




January 31

Computers! Aaaaaarrgggghh!


I had uploaded the entire net (for reasons I don't quite know) last night and I was indulging in a last game of Luxor when the computer froze. So I turned it off...and it came up in standby. Oh, woe! I flipped the case over on its side and fiddled around for a while, longer than I intended. I decided to reseat the memory (amongst other things), and it took me about 10 minutes to get it back in place so the CPU could see it. But by that time, it was trying to reboot, so when I finally got everything back together it came up just fine.


I was a bit later than I wanted to be getting to bed, though. Everything seemed fine this morning, and I went off to the Ladies' Handwork meeting.


That was a very pleasant afternoon. There were at least a dozen of us, and everybody was in good humor, with lots of nice show and tell and laughter. They are all nice ladies, and it's fun to spend some time with them.


When I got home, I immediately went outside and refilled the bird feeders. I reset the springs on the so-called squirrel-proof feeder, but I'm afraid my little red squirrels are too light to engage them. Some nasty beastie had even tried chewing on one of the seed holes. I also set out a couple of suet cakes. Carolyn, the lady who hosts the meeting, had a downy woodpecker at her suet feeder, and I can only hope I get some too, before the squirrels eat all the suet.


Then I came in to listen to ATC and play another game of Luxor before I delete it. Instead of buying all those games, I subscribed to a service that gives me unlimited "trial" periods, at the expense of having to log in before I play. Of course, that means they know what I'm doing, but it is really cheaper than paying between $20 and $30 for games I'll never be able to complete. I am just not coordinated enough to play the higher levels of some of those shooter games.


Anyway, I was on my way to winning a level I thought I couldn't win when there was a very loud tone from the speakers, scaring the heck out of Buster, and the system froze again...and came up in standby again. So I hauled out the case and flipped it over and I discovered that the CPU fan is not running. Oh.


That prompted a call to Gateway, and well, they can try to find me one, and they will call me back within 72 hours. Yeah, right. That's what they said the last time. Anyway, it may be more like 5 days than 3, because of the weekend. I may call the repair place in town tomorrow and see what they can do for me.


So the computer seems to be down, and the camera is not operational. I'm sorry about that, because we may be in for the first really substantial winter weather since early November, between now and next week. Oh, well.


So I copied the new files from the server onto the laptop (I'd thought of backing up everything last night, but it was too late), and began writing this entry...and I lost the cursor. Curses! The keyboard still worked (lot of good that does in Windows), and I tried stopping a few things, but nothing worked, so I had to reboot and I lost everything I had written. Bah! Usually the second try isn't as good as the first.


The weather was rather nice, actually. The wind died down before sunrise, and the temperature bottomed out around 10 about noon, then it rose to 21 with calm winds, about the time I was coming home. It was rather nice out. There was some sunshine during the afternoon, and when I came back from the kitchen just now, the nearly-full moon was shining through a thin haze of clouds.


So I think I am going to try to get this published (manually, of course), eat my comfort-food pasty and have a nice JD and hide out in my bed with my book. I am not a happy camper right now, but there is a chance that fan might be the cause of my all problems. I wish I knew why it started working again the last couple of times.


I probably won't look at my email until tomorrow, so anybody who sends me anything will understand if I'm rather late at replying. And there will be no new camera pictures for the next few days...


Sometimes I wonder why I bother, except that I've met so many nice people through the website that I guess it's worth it.


Not much joy in the wintry field tonight.


January 30

I went to bed late and got up late again, so today was sort of a lost day again. Oh, well. I did make it to the post office, and I started making lists of jewelry stuff. And that was about it.


When I went to bed, it was hardly snowing at all, and the wind had picked up, so my pretty little white caps on the deck railings were getting blown away. When I turned out the light, there was a bright moon trying to come out from behind the black clouds.


I don't think it snowed much more overnight, and it was quite bright this morning. The temperature bottomed out at 15 around noon, and it has now risen back to 19. There was even a little sunshine around noon, but around 3:30, the camera caught an incredibly black cloud in the north, and shortly thereafter it started snowing again, hard. The wind began to pick up, and it is now around 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph from the north-northwest. It will be a hairy night in the field tonight, and they are predicting 4-6" of new snow on top of the 4" or so we got last night. The junipers aren't buried yet, but they're getting there.


About the time I got back from the post office, I looked out the window, and I had to capture a special shot from the camera. My nice new bird feeder doesn't seem to be squirrel-proof after all. Actually, I think I set the springs wrong, so I will have to bring it in and fix that. She didn't find it easy to get into it, but she got. There are very few things more persistent than a hungry squirrel.


And this evening, Buster began diving into my parka and playing with the draw cord on the bottom, so I dug out a "Cat Dancer" that I brought back in October, and we had a nice play. That is a simple toy, and it is still his favorite. When he was a kitten, he would jump two or three feet into the air after it. He doesn't do that now, but I can certainly see how he catches the mice. He is fast and accurate with those paws, and oh, those claws! I'd say his cataract isn't bothering him much yet. Now, why rising winds and a dropping barometer would make him frolicsome, I don't know, but he enjoyed playing with me.


Just now, I took a walk down the hall and there is a nearly-full moon high over the house, casting bright shadows on the snow. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow... Go away, moon! Snow some more!


So that is another quiet day in the field, and it seems like it has begun to snow for real. Yeah!


January 29

Well, another lost day. I stayed up too late and got to bed too late, so I slept late this morning, and just sort of vegged out.


It was sunny when I got up, and while the sun went away by 2:00 or so, it didn't start snowing until around 5:00. There wasn't any wind then, and the big flakes were coming straight down. It was snowing rather heavily the last time I saw it, and the boughs of the spruce and pines were already beginning to get covered. I guess it's still snowing, but I haven't checked.


I did get out the beads for a necklace I've been thinking about, but it turns out that as I feared, I don't have enough little black round beads to do what I wanted to. So that project is on hold.


And that was the sum of it. Maybe I can get to bed a bit earlier tonight. I might go to town tomorrow, if my power supply is available, but I may just wait till Thursday, when it isn't so likely to be snowing. I would really like to say I can't go because it's snowing too hard, and not because I don't want to go, because I do. 


I just checked out on the deck, and there are little peaked hats about 4" high on the railing...quite a bit of snow has fallen since 5:00! And it's still coming down, although now it's that fine, grainy stuff that isn't so fluffy.


Let it snow!


January 28

The wind howled and the lake roared for most of the night, but there wasn't much more snow, unfortunately. And there weren't more than a few stray flakes today. The wind has died down to almost nothing, and the temperature is back down to 10, which is where it was in the middle of the day. So all we can hope is that more snow is on the way...hope, hope.


I was in bed shortly after 10:00, because I felt too tired to read, but I had a hard time getting to sleep and I didn't sleep very well. I was thinking about jewelry...necklaces, to be specific...and that kept me wakeful. It was so nice to hear the song of the lake, although by morning it had died down a lot. I won't be so early tonight.


Ron came over for a while this afternoon. He had something he wants me to fax tomorrow, but we had a nice conversation.


Otherwise I did essentially nothing. I did run my package to the general store so it can get picked up tomorrow, but that was about all.


We even had some sunshine off and on, with lots of those low, gray clouds that sometimes mean snow, but no such luck. We saw some nice crepuscular rays from the setting sun, but unfortunately, the camera didn't pick them up. Since I had my slippers on, I decided I wasn't going out onto the deck, which is a bit snowy. 


I will have to go outside tomorrow, because the wooden feeder is empty and the mesh feeder is getting very low. The only trouble with that mesh feeder is that the birds won't be able to get all the seed out of it, but it holds a lot, so that will be all right.


I had my first surf and turf for dinner tonight, and it was very, very good. It would have been even better if I hadn't overcooked the steak. The next time I do it, I won't defrost the steak. I find they broil better that way. The lobster tail was sort of a pain to cook, but it came out very nice anyway. They didn't explain very well how to prepare the tail for broiling. The next time I will know to take the meat out of the shell and open it up. The real problem is, when I turned it over to finish cooking it, the shell is so round that it wouldn't stay flat in the pan. I don't know how to fix that. Anyway, even though I sort of guessed at the time, I didn't overcook that, at least...and it was yummy. The steak was so tender I probably could have cut it with a butter knife, and it was very flavorful for a filet. Yummy dinner! And I have three more!


Buster appeared when I started eating, and he was most interested. However, he can't have beef (makes him sick) and besides, no way does he get people food that's that expensive. I suppose he might have liked the lobster, but I wasn't going to find out. He sat on the desk and stared at the plate for a while then he went off with a thump, and I suppose his nose is out of joint. Poor Buster!


He very graciously came and said hello to Ron, and got petted and made over, which he liked. I'm glad he seems to have made his peace with Ron. He loves cats, and it hurts his feelings when cats run away from him. He'd better get used to Ron. He'll be around a lot when I have to go away.


So that is all there was, and I should try to get to bed before midnight.


January 27

Oh, it's really winter in the Keweenaw...the kind of weather we should have been having for the past two months. The snow has been coming down, and the north to northeast wind is howling in the 25-35 mph range, and the lake is roaring...and how lovely it is! Mariner was busy (but not crazy) tonight, and maybe, just maybe, things are looking up! It's wonderful!


It was probably 3:00 by the time I got to bed this morning. When Norton started its weekly virus scan, it gave me that dread message that the boot sector had been changed, so I wanted to wait until it finished to make sure I hadn't picked up a known virus. Unfortunately, Luxor - Amun Rising is a very buggy program, and I think it put Norton into a loop, so after an hour I stopped it and restarted it, then I had to wait an hour or more again to make sure everything was OK.


So it was noon when I rolled out of bed. I think I slept for 5 straight hours, which is almost unheard of for me, and when I woke up, the north wind was slamming against the house and the snow was coming down at a nice pace...so I went back to sleep. Buster wanted me to get up around 10:00, so I turned over and ignored him. 


When I got to the office, the computer had hung...oh, no! I really think it was because I didn't reboot it last night, and there are resources it loses that my repair programs can't regain. It finally hung around 10:30 this morning, so we did get to see dawn break. So I had to reboot, and I'm happy to say whatever change there was to the boot sector, it was non-destructive, and everything has been fine all day.


I didn't reboot last night because my plan was to back up the files before I did it...just in case. Which reminds me, I should have done that anyway, and didn't. Tomorrow.


I actually looked at some beads this afternoon, but I'm not sure I have the right ones to do what I want to do. Of course...I've never had an idea for which I had all the necessary beads! I was going to make do, but I saw a couple of things that make me think it might be time to create another Fire Mountain order. If I can order more than 50 items there is a substantial discount. Can I order more than 50 items...hah!


I also made a small attempt to do something in the kitchen today...not much, but I did wash a load of dishes, which helped the situation a bit. So I maybe I really am coming out of it?


And that is about all I can think of. That lovely song of the lake will be a wonderful lullaby, and I think maybe I will read for a while before I call it a night.


It's snowing in the field! It's snowing in the field!


January 26

I guess it was about 1:00 when I got to bed, but it was 12:30 when I got up this morning, so I think I caught up on my sleep. I was up any number of times during the night, and there were some weird dreams...including a new wrinkle on the house dream. I dreamt that somebody came in and made all sorts of horrible changes to the house on Champine! Good grief, what next?


The weather was nondescript again...cloudy, but warmer than lately. The temperature got up to 24, with very light to calm winds. There was no snow until about 8:00 this evening, and it was coming down nicely, thank you, when I got home.


I didn't have much time to do anything today, but it was certainly nice to be able to sit at my desk to write a couple of checks and sort my mail when I got back from the post office.


There were a couple of goldfinches at the feeders while I was looking, so I will really have to get the thistle feeder out. I haven't quite figured out the goldfinches. Sometimes they want thistle, and sometimes they ignore it altogether and eat sunflower. Seed levels in both feeders are going down nicely, so I guess the little birds have the hang of them now. Now if I can only figure out how to raise the one that shows in the camera...


There was hardly anybody in Mariner when I got there, but by the time I left, there was a trickle of people, so the place wasn't completely empty. Of course, in a normal year, nearly every table would be full, but I guess we'll take what we can get. It was good to see a few folks who are clearly tourists, and it was really good to see the snow.


So that is about all I know on a warmish and snowy night in the field.


January 25

It was a late night again last night, but again I got up at a relatively reasonable hour this morning after having had a nasty dream. When I opened my eyes, there was a little furry face stuck into mine, telling me it was time to get up. It was only 10:30, for heaven's sake!


And again the computer was perking along until I started playing Jewel Quest. I think I'm about done with that, though. I'm on the last part, and it's just too hard.


So when the computer hung up and I had to shut it down, I moved it back onto its dolly and it is now under the table. The case is still open, because one of these days I will get brave enough to take the old disk out, but it seems solid as a rock. Sigh.


I had to spend some time sweeping the floor. The stool it was on seems to have been the final destination of practically everything I dropped on the floor (except what fell on the stool and into the case), and it took some doing to get most of it swept up. I also ran across some more beads...I think they grow out of the cracks. There were some blue seed beads I don't recall ever having seen before (they're pretty), as well as some that came from old projects and didn't get swept up before.


It is so delightful to be able to maneuver around between the computer and the desk! I immediately put away a bunch of stuff that has been sitting waiting for the cabinet to become available again and I cleared off the blotter. The desk still isn't completely clear, as there are three 3" cookbooks piled up on one edge, and all the beading stuff, but it's much better. I can actually sit at my desk and eat or write checks! Wonderful!


Now I really must replace the three canister lights that burned out. Two of them are over the desk, and without my task light, I can't see much when it gets dark.


So what am I going to do first? I haven't decided that yet. I do need to get at the beading, or Peggy won't have much for the spring. We'll see.


And right before sunset, the sun came out for about five minutes, and it is now shining onto the back wall of the office and just within camera range. So spring will come.


In the meantime, we had some measurable snow overnight...maybe 2"? It was snowing this morning when I got up, and while it quit after a while, there was another squall this afternoon. The temperature got to a whole 12 this afternoon...all December and most of January our average temperatures were above the normal high, so for the past day or so they have been below the normal low. Figures. There was a 15-25 mph wind from the north this morning, but it died down and is now very light from the southwest. You'd think that would make it warmer, and it is supposed to warm up some tomorrow.


When I got to the office, there was a little squirrel sitting on the end of a dead branch that she used to use to get into the hanging feeder, and she was sort of pacing around and looking at the feeder. I suspect that we all missed her trying to get into it, because she went away after a couple of minutes. Darn. I wanted to see that. Not that there isn't enough seed on the deck and in the wooden feeder for all the squirrels, but some of them just believe that the harder it is to get, the sweeter it tastes.


The mesh feeder is going down at a great rate now. I think the little birds like it best because it isn't too far from the tree trunk, and they are less exposed. However, they were hitting the squirrel-proof one pretty hard, too. I must take the thistle feeder back out tomorrow. I haven't seen any goldfinches since the coons threw it on the ground, and I'm sure they're still around.


So that was my day, and it certainly is nice to have the computer case out of the way!


January 24

I went to bed late again, but I got up at a semi-reasonable hour this morning, but as a result I didn't do much of anything, and I think I will be fairly early tonight.


The computer stayed up all night and gave us a very blue picture of dawn, and I was very careful not to do anything much with it today. I think it's all right, but I don't intend to close up the case or put away the old disk until I've successfully downloaded all the software updates. Besides the stuff I want, there seem to be a lot of security updates to ME that I'm sure I should have. Based on my fun yesterday, I can foresee a couple of more rebuilds. Next time, I will be sure to store all the important files on the TravelDisk before I start the downloads.


The weather was so-so. There was a little sunshine, not much, but no snow until after dark. A while ago, I couldn't see the lights down the harbor, and when I turned on the floodlight, there was a little light snow coming down. The NWS station got its act together around 1:00, so I know the temperature only got up to 16, with light winds until about 5:00, when they picked up into the 15-30 mph range, from the north. We ought to get some snow out of that! It's supposed to get very cold tonight, in the single digits, but with that north wind, there should be some snow.


So that's about all I have to report. It was a quiet day in the field, thankfully.


January 23

Today is my parents' 67th wedding anniversary. I've always thought it behooved me to mark the day, since otherwise I wouldn't be here.


I got hung up in Jewel Quest last night and it was late before I got to bed, so I slept until Buster insisted that I get up. It was late anyway.


It was nice to see the computer still perking along, so I got brave and decided to download some software updates. Bad decision.  I don't have any idea what might have happened, but I ended up with a trashed disk again, and I had a hell of a time finding a checkpoint on the old disk that would work. I downloaded an updated Internet Explorer, and that seemed to work fine, so I decided to do DirectX next...and get version 9 instead of fixes to version 8. Well!  


At the end of the download, it wants to reboot the computer, but it got hung up with the windows page on the screen, churning around, and after half an hour or so of that, I decided it wasn't going to work, so I shut it off and tried to do a GoBack...which got hung up right at the beginning. It seems if you start a disk revert in GoBack, you have to let it complete or disable GoBack. After it kept hanging up for 15 minutes or so, I decided none of that was going to work...


So I rebuilt the disk, after discovering that the checkpoint I chose to revert the old disk to was flawed, too, and I ended up going back to about 2:00 yesterday. So if anybody sent me an email after then, it's gone.


Eventually, around 6:30 or so, I got a running system again, and I promise, I won't touch it for several days. I can't imagine what happened, although I have had trouble in the past with downloads getting corrupted. By the way, I did DirectX 9 with no problems back in November when I originally built the new disk. What happened today, I have no clue. 


And that, friends is the reason I will never, ever let Microsoft try to do automatic updates to my system software. I want to be in control, I want to know what is being downloaded, and I would really like a good way to assure that I have a good download before I go trying to reboot. I guess that's too much to ask.


I do reboot before I do a download, but that assumes GoBack will work. The next time I try anything like that, I will also back up important stuff, like mail files and the web, to the TravelDisk before I start. Every time I run into one of these problems, the amount of time it takes to get ready to take the next step gets longer and more involved. Egad! Nobody should have that much trouble with a PC! In fact, this is getting ludicrous.


When I got up this morning, it was snowing nicely, but it quit and for a while the sun came out...then another nice shower came through, about the time of the last picture from the camera, then it cleared up again. It was partly cloudy at sunset. I don't know exactly what the temperature was, but I suspect it was probably around 20, since that was about what it was in Houghton. The wind was in the 20-30 mph range from the north for most of the day, although it has died down somewhat now, into the 10-20 mph range. Event though it looked like it was snowing fairly hard, I don't think there was any accumulation.


The only other development is that the mesh bird feeder has had its seed level going down, even though I haven't particularly seen any birds at it. The one in the camera picture isn't getting used as much, I hope because it's more in the open. The squirrels have been mostly in the wooden feeder or on the deck, but they will get the easy seed first before they try the harder feeders. I still want to see the gates close on some unsuspecting furry fellow.


So that's about all I have to report. I am not happy about the computer problems today, so I will probably let be for a few days. This rebuilding my system from scratch is getting old.


January 22

I didn't think I was that uptight about the computer, but I was awake for several hours thinking about Gateway's lack of customer service. Don't know why.


I was in bed shortly after 10:00, but with all the wakefulness and some more really strange dreams, I didn't sleep well, and it was 10:30 before I got up. That's all right - it's earlier than sometimes.


After I did my daily surfing, I decided to attack the computer again, and (as I just discovered) in less than 2 hours, I had a working disk, and I think this time I answered all the questions correctly. At least it has been working fine since about 3:30. I haven't rebooted much, but so far so good. I haven't unplugged the old disk or closed up the case, and I probably won't until I've updated the software that did me in the last time. So the "temporarily down" message will stay on the camera page until the case is under the desk...maybe until it's been under the desk for a couple of days.


Maybe I'll sleep better tonight.


I won't be in bed so early, though. I dawdled until the last minute before I started cooking the chicken, then the probe went off before it was really done - getting that thing into the thigh of a chicken so it reads right is nearly impossible - and I had to cook it some more. So I ate in shifts, and I am just having my fruit dessert now.


The weather was blah again, and I can't report it very specifically because the NWS station is sick and isn't reporting the temperature...for a while it wasn't reporting anything. The temperature probably got up to 30, with light and variable winds. There wasn't any snow, although they say there will be some tonight and tomorrow. It was gray and nondescript.


However, this morning, while I was doing my morning thing, I some flashes of white out the east windows, and after I saw a snow bunting fly away, I found a hairy woodpecker on the trunk of the spruce, pecking away. I really must get out my suet cakes and the heated birdbath. Maybe something besides the squirrels will eat the suet. Someday I hope to have a pileated woodpecker show up in the feeder tree.


So that was the day, and so far, so good. Maybe I can sleep tonight.


January 21

I guess I'm not getting over it. I went to bed around 11:30 last night (reading, you know), and got up at about 10:30 this morning, and I'm tired already again. I will say I didn't have the best sleep. I had some extremely weird dreams that I've forgotten the details of, except that they seemed to be a new twist on the morphing house dream. At least part of this was a morphing apartment building. Why that came up, I don't know, except that I have dreamed about apartment buildings ever since I stopped living in one. So I guess the idea of living in an apartment is a nightmare? Maybe so. I know I hated it.


Anyway, I diddled around for some time. I made a start on the kitchen, but that's going to be a horrendous job, and I ate too much too late to do my chicken today, so it will have to be tomorrow, and I have to wash the broiler pan in order to convection roast it, so I guess tomorrow is the kitchen day.


Late this afternoon, I decided to attack the computer again, since it has been behaving itself. By building Windows on the new disk I solved whatever problem it had. I suspect it was that when I formatted it in DOS, it would only format 39 gb, and there was still something out there that said it was a 128 gb drive. Since Windows would never expect such an error, when it encountered it, it just abended. Oops. Anyway, after I built a partial system on it, the old system recognized it right away, so I did the disk copy, which went just fine...until I rebooted. Then Norton said that the boot sector had been changed and what did I want to do? I didn't want to do anything, so I just closed the window, and that was the wrong thing...and when I tried to reboot, I got the non-system disk error again. Soo...I went back to the old disk, which, thankfully, still sees the new one, although it says there is nothing on it. I decided not to try the copy again today. Tomorrow.


I don't think I mentioned that I think I have deduced the cause of all my problems. There is one small power connector that is right beside the CPU socket, and is extremely difficult to remove. I had to use a pair of regular pliers to open its clip and pull it out. When I put it back, I noticed that a very cheesy spring-type thing that was holding the CPU into the socket seemed a bit loose. It is really hard to get that power connector out without bumping the spring, and it has a lever right beside the connector which is easy to bump. So I removed the spring (it's a flat spring, like the leaf springs in a car), noticing in passing that is is a very cheesy piece of metal and just clips over two bumps on the sides of the socket. It wouldn't be hard to break off one of the bumps...and then you need a new motherboard! Anyway, I replaced the spring and made sure it was securely in place. I haven't had any particular problems since.


So I suspect what happened is, when Charlie replaced the power supply in February 2005, he bumped the spring a bit, and just normal vibration plus me moving the case around loosened it enough to cause the occasional system halt. When I replaced the power supply in November, I'm sure I loosened the spring again, because I had such a hard time getting that plug out. And I've been moving the case around a lot since then, causing it to loosen even more, until it finally broke some connections for good, making it impossible to boot the system. I really should remove both that spring and the one on the other side and reseat the CPU in its socket and lock both of them down, and I may do that before I close up the case. I'm only a little reluctant to touch it, because while it's easy to get the springs off, it's not easy to get them back on, especially the one by the power connector. So we'll see.


I am still not sure all that is the complete cause of my problems, but for the time being, things are much better, and now I can go on to try to build a new system disk that works. There is some software I haven't loaded on this system because the disk is limited in size (and those games take a ton of space!) that I'd like to have...like my needlework charting program. So it will be nice to have the new disk. I do seem to have lost the 32 gb ME won't address directly, but oh, well. I'm not quite sure how to try to recover that, although when I am in Detroit next, I will try to remember to bring back Partition Magic and see if that will work. Also my interactive Bible software.  


Anyway, I do feel better about the whole thing now. If there are still problems, I think at least I am beginning to understand them. I don't mind computer problems nearly so much when I know why they are happening.


The weather wasn't worth talking much about, gray and dreary. The temperature got up to 27 this afternoon with light winds from the southwest. Blah.


The birds like the new feeders, or at least the camera caught a bunch of them on one this morning. They will probably leave the mesh feeder till last, because it's a little harder to get the seeds out of that, but they will eat from it. This afternoon, I watched a nuthatch picking seeds out of the long feeder and throwing them on the deck...they weren't quite the ones he wanted, I guess. They are funny little birds. I have quite a flock of them, too, although not quite so many as the chickadees. The squirrels will actually stop eating when they are full, I've discovered, so the only thing to do is keep a lot of seed around so some birds can get what's left.


I gave Buster some catnip this afternoon, on a paper as usual, and when I went out to the kitchen, I discovered that after he had covered himself with it, he went to sleep on the paper! Boy, has he slowed down! I thought the catnip would maybe jazz him up a little, but I guess the only thing that will do that is a few mice. However, he does love the perfume of good catnip, so if he wants to sleep on the floor, that's OK, too.


And that is about all there is, I guess. I hope I can be early to bed tonight. Tomorrow I do have to do something.


January 20

Maybe I'm getting over it. I wasn't so early last night, but I got up around 9:00 this morning. It's amazing how much time I have when I do that.


Which reminds me that I've been neglecting to mention that we now have a tad more than 9 hours of daylight again, and we are getting more at over 15 minutes a week. So the darkest of the dark days are behind us.


It turned out to be a very nice day, although there wasn't any snow. Around noon the sun came out, and the afternoon was lovely, with a temperature of about 20 and not much wind.


I was out on the deck doing bird feeders this afternoon, and except that my hands got cold, it was nice out, with the sunshine and light wind. After dark, as I was walking down the great room to go to dinner, there was the thinnest crescent moon and Venus perfectly framed in one of the transom windows in the great room...sooo pretty! We do need much more snow, but an afternoon of sunshine now and then is always welcome. I got some good solar heat out of it, too.


The bird feeders were about all I did today. I put out the two new ones, and it was funny. When I stepped out the door, the chickadees started calling "she's here! She's here!", and they were in the old wooden feeder as soon as I filled it. They took to the two new ones at once, too. The one in the camera picture is really very pretty, with a copper vine over it...and if something like a squirrel jumps on it, the leaves in the vine slide down and cover up the seed holes. Ha! The wooden feeder, and the one on the deck, are for the squirrels. The two new ones are for the little birds. I'm anxious to see what happens when the squirrel jumps into them. I was happy to see that the chickadees knew exactly what to do with both feeders. The other one is one of those wire mesh things, and while I think they might have had a bit of a problem getting the seeds through the holes, they managed. I have a real flock of chickadees and several red-breasted nuthatches. I wish I could attract some other birds, especially some woodpeckers. Oh, well.


The computer was doing its thing today...it was hung (I think) when I got to the office this morning, but it came right up. So I played Jewel Quest for a while, which eventually hung it again, and when I rebooted from that, Norton didn't start. Oh, now what? I had to go back to midnight on the 19th to get good copies of the software, which is a pain, because then I have to recover what's been changed in the meantime, like this file. When I recovered Norton, I tried to do a virus scan, which is what I was doing when it hung last night, I think, and it got hung up in the GoBack file (which is 2gb big) three times...but I rebooted again right before I went to dinner, and restarted it, and when I got home it had completed successfully. So what in the world that was all about, I do not  know.


Needless to say, I didn't plug in any disk drives or anything radical like that. Maybe tomorrow, and maybe not until Monday. It is a truly weird system. 


However, that meant we didn't get our full complement of pictures today, for which I'm sorry, but everybody should be used to that by now.


So it is early, but I am going to go up to the north end and read a bit, I think, and decide whether or not to take a bath. I wouldn't, except that I had a little accident this morning and I may need to clean up some. We'll see.


So that is all there is, and it is a lovely winter night in the field.


January 19

I must have been really tired last night, because I was in bed before 11:00, and I slept well...until 10:00 this morning. It didn't look like it snowed much overnight, but I guess it did, because Ron was out doing the road at 4:00 this morning.


It certainly was snowing when I got up, and it pretty much kept it up all day long, although the wind was blowing enough that it was hard to tell. Overnight, we had wind gusts up to almost 40 mph, and right now it's in the 20-30 mph range. I don't care what the NWS says about the direction, our winds have been right out of the north, so the lake has been hairy. The temperature has been right around 17. It's cold outside.


However, it wasn't too dark, and it was fun to watch the snow whipping across the ice toward Lake Lily in clouds. it was nice to see the snow come down. Now, if it would only continue...


I came into the office this morning wondering how the computer was, just as the software said "click!" and uploaded another picture. I did have to reboot, because the mouse click wasn't working (weird, again), but it's been solid all day long. Now what the devil is going on, I don't know.


I hunted up my tie-wraps and bundled up all the extra wires from the power supply, so as to keep them out of the way, and maybe that will help. If we're still up tomorrow, I may try plugging in the other disk drive again, and if that works, I may begin trying to build a new system disk again. Slowly, one step at a time, with plenty of time between to make sure the last step is working. Really, really weird.


Anyway, that's about all I did. I guess I was recouperating from yesterday, but that's all right.


I made it to the post office, and brought home a grocery bag of mail, a lot of which went out. But I got a few of my favorite catalogs, so now I have some reading material again. That will come in handy if I start working on the new disk, since I can't do anything else on the computer while those things are running.


There were a lot of snowmobiles at Mariner when I went for the mail, and there were actually people inside when I went to dinner tonight...enough that they had three waitpeople. It was nice not to be the only person eating dinner. So while they'll never recoup their losses for the last six weeks, maybe the rest of the winter will be OK. I hope so.


And that is all there is, and maybe I can get to bed early again tonight. I like this weather, but it does take a lot of energy.


January 18

I got into what I was reading and didn't get to bed early, like I'd hoped, and for some reason I didn't sleep very well. It had something to do with hips and ears and things, but there really wasn't any reason for it. While I was lying there, before I dozed off, I noticed that the lighthouse, which started out revolving at its usual 6-second interval, suddenly started slowing down...to 12 seconds, then 18 seconds...then I fell asleep. But it clearly has a severe problem that hasn't been fixed yet.


I also saw stars...lots of stars. Around 2:30, I looked out, and there were all the winter stars in the west. Orion was behind the picnic tree, and I could see the Pleiades and Taurus and Auriga. If I had been really diligent, I would have gone down to the great room, because I'm sure I could have seen Sirius. 


There were stars until about 6:00 this morning, but when I got up, it was cloudy again. I really didn't want to get up at 9:30, but I knew if I didn't, I'd never make it to town, and today was the day.


I actually got away around 11:00, which is pretty good for me. I didn't do most of my morning surfing. The dialup is just too slow to surf through my usual morning sites. 


It was rather slow going down to Delaware, because the covered road was still partly ice-covered, although they had done a very good job of sanding it. My car is now brown from the windows down. South of Delaware, the road was clear and nearly dry, and that was good.


So I went to the computer repair shop, and they are very nice people. Then it was on to Econo, and I really stocked up on freezer stuff. I have been having a hard time keeping enough frozen veggies, so I stocked up on those as well as TV dinners...and a nice big chicken for my Sunday dinner. I also got some ground beef. I've been thinking about chili stew lately, so now I am prepared for that. And they also had beef country ribs, so I laid in some of those for the freezer. And Buster has enough to keep him fed for a couple of months, I expect. Then it was gas, which was an amazing $2.18 a gallon...I don't remember the last time it was that cheap!. What do you bet that along about May 25th it suddenly gets very expensive again? I don't trust those oil companies as far as I can throw them.


It started snowing lightly about the time I pulled into Econo Foods' parking lot, but it was light until I got to Calumet. North of Calumet, there were a few places where there was a little snow cover, but not bad. The covered road was snowy, but it didn't seem to be slippery, even though the temperature was around 23 all afternoon.


I got home around 3:00, and I tore right into the computer...and discovered that my nice power supply is lacking a power plug I need. So I called the shop and uninstalled it. On a whim, I plugged the old one back in and powered it up...and I'm running on the desktop again! What a weird thing! I did replug a couple of connectors, and I moved a few spare wires around, but I have a hard time thinking that fixed the problem. It did not fix the system freeze problem...it's done that three or four times since I powered it up. How weird can you get?


So I am still going to get my new power supplies, if the people in Houghton can find me one, and the mail order place ever sends me the replacement...and for the rest of it, we'll just wait and see what happens.


It was nice to get a few new pictures, especially since it started snowing really hard while I was putting the computer back together.


The rest of the weather...the temperature was 23 all afternoon, with a west-southwest wind around 10 mph, although it was gusty early. It has now switched around to the northwest, which bodes well for our lake-effect snows. We are under a warning, which has been extended through Saturday morning now. Let it snow!


I was heartened to see a few snowmobiles around the Cliff Bar when I went south, and when I came back, there were over a dozen at Mariner. My friends will never recoup what they've lost for the season, but maybe the next two or two and a half months will be good ones for them. I certainly hope so!


So I am still dealing with a balky computer, and only time will tell how long it will stay up and continue running the camera.


Now I really am tired, and I was sweaty enough today that I need a bath. Oh - I did cut my bangs the other night, and they have turned out just fine, a little short maybe, but they'll grow, and they are now out of my face. So that aggravation is solved.


And that is all there is, although I'm not ready to say the computer is back where it was.



January 17

I was briefly awake at about 8:30 and the girdle of Venus was almost on the horizon, and I could see that the sky looked like it might be clear. However, I went back to sleep for another couple of hours to catch up on the night before. It was beautifully clear when I did get up, and the sun was shining brightly on the snow and ice.


I had decided not to go to town today, and I decided it would be a good day to just stay here and enjoy the weather. I had intended to do something about the trash, but while I was making my first meal (I guess I should just call it breakfast, since it is breaking my fast), I bent over to get something I had dropped on the floor and got so dizzy I almost lost my balance. Weird. Evidently, either I am not getting enough fluid or I am not getting enough potassium, or maybe both. So I decided it would not be a good day to collect trash. 


Instead I made a bunch of telephone calls. The power supply is indeed dead: it wouldn't come up this morning, so my first call was to the company I got it from, and there should be one on the way. However, that will take a few days, so late in the afternoon, I called one of the computer repair companies in the area and tomorrow I will be going to town to pick up a replacement supply from them. I should have done that in the first place, but I do think it might be a good idea to have a backup on hand, just in case. So if we're lucky, the computer and the camera will be up again tomorrow. 


I am doing this early, in the hope that I can get to bed early and thus get up early and get an early start to town. I can't think of anything I need at Wal-Mart, and I know if I go there I will spend money, so I can just skip that and just get food...which will be expensive enough. And of course, using this computer is enough of a pain that I don't have much to do in the office.

I did realize that there might be a way I can keep the computer case open and accessible and still put it sort of under the table, and as soon as I get the new power supply installed, I will do that, so maybe, just maybe, I can do something else while I am wringing out the new supply. On the basis of the symptoms I have seen for the past couple of days, I'm now not sure my system freeze problems haven't all been due to the power supply? It seems possible, since I think the one I installed in November was defective from the beginning.


All this certainly leaves me understanding why people whose computers die or even get flaky just go buy a new one. At this point, my innate stubbornness  has kicked in, and this one is going to work!


The weather. The temperature was about 10 until 9:00 this morning, then it rose rapidly to 30, where it still is. There was a moderate southwest wind (10-20 mph) for most of the day. It was quite clear this morning, but by afternoon there were a lot of cirrus clouds, and by sunset the clouds seemed to be getting thicker.


Darn. Somebody mentioned that he saw the comet in the daylight close to the sun, and I hoped I might, too, but no such luck. Blocking the sun with one's hand is risky business anyway, and I would certainly never look in that direction with binoculars. So I guess I just won't get to see the comet. Darn.


So that is all there is, and I will trundle up to the north end early tonight. Maybe I'll read a while, but I do expect to be earlier to bed tonight.


January 16

I was awakened this morning by the realtor saying that someone wants to view the house tomorrow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and saying my prayers.


I thought that if I got up then, maybe I would do something, but no such luck. The only thing I accomplished was to run my estimated taxes and something I'm sending back to the post office.


The weird thing about the day is, when I got to the office, I thought, what the heck, and turned on the computer...and it came up! For heaven's sake, what now? In fact it worked fine...until about 6:00, when it did the same thing it did yesterday, and now it's down again. I didn't call the people about the power supply, and I should have, but I will tomorrow morning, for sure! The fan is running, but I noticed that when it was working, it was a lot more noisy than it is when it isn't working, so it has to be the power supply.


I was also thinking it might not be a bad idea to get an extra one, just for contingencies like this, but not that brand, for sure!


Anyway, I am back on the laptop for tonight. I had to copy the journal and the livecam files by hand last night, and I'll have to do the same tonight, because FrontPage in its infinite wisdom wants to copy the entire website, and please, I don't want to do that! Not at 26.4kb (or less on an upload). Not even at 256kb. What a stupid program.


Also, I am not looking at my email tonight. It's too much of a pain to move it between computers. If the desktop doesn't come up tomorrow morning, I will, of course, but I'm willing to bet it will do the same thing tomorrow. Maybe I can get a new power supply before it dies completely?


The other thing I decided in the middle of the night last night is that I am going to cut my hair, or at least the top. I have been letting it grow since I got back here in May, and because I couldn't decide what to do with it, I let the top grow, too. My "bangs", so called, now come down to my mouth, which is a terrible intermediate length which is always falling in my face and driving me nuts. Then I recalled that even when I wore my hair off my forehead, I always kept the top fairly short to give it more lift. When I wore my hair long, I always cut the top myself, and I think I can still do it fairly well. We shall see. I'm tired of it getting in my way. The rest is OK, I think. If it bothersome, I can clip it back or up or something. I still haven't seen a local haircut that looks professional.


The weather was cold. The temperature was right around 15 all day, with winds from the north in the 15-30 mph range until about 4:00, when they died down almost completely and switched around to the southwest. There was only one short snow shower that I'm aware of, and in the middle of the afternoon, the sun came out briefly. 


We have a moderate amount of snow, but not enough to bury the weeds (or the junipers) completely. When I came out of the post office, I could hear the whine of some snowmobiles, and that is good. I never thought I'd like hearing that sound, but perspectives change. There is a sign outside Mariner that says "Welcome Winter!!" I guess so.


Tomorrow, if I can get moving at a decent hour, I need to go to town. Buster is running low on food, and I have just about run out of TV dinners and frozen veggies. I had hoped to get to the trash compactor before I went, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen. Thursday looks to be almost as good a day, however, so we'll see how it goes. Now if I could get the trash out tomorrow and shop Thursday...hmm. Thursday is usually better at Econo - they are usually restocked by that time. Hmm.


So that is what is going on around here...not much, for sure. 


January 15

It was a severely truncated day, but I may eventually get to eat dinner and wash the dishes.


I was minding my own business and playing with Captain BUbblebeard when the computer froze, and when I tried to bring it up, it went right into standby mode. Hey! I thought we got over that in November!! Well, the new power supply died. The fan isn't running. So I guess tomorrow I get on the phone and call the place I got it from and get a replacement. I think I'd rather have a different brand, but I don't want to have to pay for it. What a pain! The question now is, do I have another hardware problem or is a squirrelly power supply the cause of the whole thing? Stay tuned...


Even a worse pain is that I backed up the files a week ago, and among the things that didn't get backed up is the install file for Captain Bubblebeard...so I'm in the process of downloading a 12mb file on a 26.4kb phone line...an hour at just about 3kbytes/sec. Grrr... I already copied this file from the server, which is the easiest way to do it. 


The weather continues its pattern, except that the wind has been from the northeast all day long, in the 15-25 mph range. The temperature was steady right around 18. We did have significant snow - a couple of inches, maybe, but it ended around 5:00. The lake is roaring loudly, but I am mostly sheltered from northeast winds, so it's pretty calm around here.


The only thing about the wind from that direction is that the greatest amount of snow that has fallen has been at Marquette...well at Gwinn, actually... They've had 14" of snow since yesterday. However, on the lakeshore, it's about the same as it is here. This is the lake effect - it tends to dump someplace in the interior mostly, when it hits hills. They are reporting 6" at Calumet and Mohawk, as of 1:00 this afternoon. Wish we would get that here, but it will come. It will come.


So that was the story of my truncated afternoon, and I am planning to get to bed at a very reasonable hour tonight and haul myself back onto a human time schedule.


Damned computer.


January 14

Well, the name of the game is Captain Bubblebeard's Treasure, and at least in its "normal" mode, I can win it. The idea is the same as Super Collapse III, but it's easier.


So it's insanely late, but I did manage to get the wash done, and most of it folded, so my day wasn't completely wasted. Almost, but not completely.


The weather was as usual: light snow almost all day, temperature between 16 and 18, and north wind in the 10-20 mph range. I don't think there was a lot of accumulation, but it is that light, fluffy lake-effect stuff that looks so pretty coming down.


And I think I'd better go to bed.


January 13

It stopped snowing sometime between the time I posted this last night and the time I went to bed, and except for a flake here and there, it didn't snow today at all, but it was cold - around 17 all day - and there wasn't much wind. It was just another gray winter day.


I don't mind the cold, except that I easily get tired of having to spend 5 minutes getting dressed to go outside. The wind is sometimes unpleasant, but on a day like today, it was nice, the little I was out in it. My mother always contended, and so have I, that cold weather is actually much healthier than that horrible freezing-to-mid-40s stuff we had so much of in Detroit. It's harder for the germs to live when the temperature is in the teens. 


Of course, you have to dress for it. If you go around with your coat hanging open and no hat or gloves or boots, very likely not only will you be miserable, you'll be sick. Even Debbie, who is very style conscious, discovered when she went to Michigan State that you'd better bundle up in the winter and to heck with how you look. Wool is better than cotton or man-made, and down is better than almost anything. Mittens are better than gloves. Pants are better than skirts, although I did have a couple of down coats that were ankle length, and they were pretty cozy, especially with lined boots, although when I was having to walk from parking lots, I wore leg warmers, too. One learns to cope.


I actually did (or am doing) a load of wash today. It's in the dryer, and the rest of the dirty clothes are sorted for tomorrow. Of course, I haven't folded the last batch, except for the underwear, but maybe I can do that, too.


And that's about all I did. It was only semi-busy in Mariner tonight, but we have hopes. It's supposed to start snowing again tonight, and according to John Dee, they got more up in the higher elevations than we did here, so pretty soon the snowmobilers should be descending upon us. Little as it is, we have more snow than most everybody else.


So that is all there is, and it's another good night to cuddle under the quilt.


January 12

It started snowing about the time I went to bed last night, and the lighthouse is hung up again. Oh, well. It hasn't been a heavy snow, just constant, all day, and it is still snowing now. The wind shifted around to the north, around 20 mph, and the temperature dropped to about 15, where it stayed all day. It was a little chilly, but it was nice outside.


However, I wanted to put on my under-mitten gloves tonight, and when I did, I discovered that the moths have been in the front closet, and the palm of one glove now looks like lace. So my nice gloves are ruined, after all my hard work on #1 needles, and I will have to make another pair. Rats.


There is maybe 4" of snow, total, so it's no blizzard or anything, but so long as it keeps up, we'll get into good shape. There were four snowmobilers in Mariner tonight, but they were eating before they were on their way, so we don't know how the trails are. It was nice to hear the whine of the engines when we came out.


I ended up having a nice meal with my permanent neighbors, including two who aren't quite there yet. Mike is in the process of moving, and Marty and Syd are going to start building in the spring. They are all very nice people, and we had a lovely evening.


So that was a nice day. I did put out one of the bird feeders this afternoon, but I think it was too late for the little birds. I hope the coons don't come tonight, so there is some left tomorrow morning. With the wind from the north, or north-east, while there is a drift on the deck, at least part of the tree is sheltered. If that works, I may get brave and put out some more tomorrow.


Tonight, I will go to sleep to the roar of the lake and the howl of the wind and hope I can't see the lights of town all night long. It's snowing!


January 11

I am happy to report that the lighthouse light was repaired yesterday and it was blinking happily all night long. Probably nobody wanted to go up the tower in the wind we had Tuesday, for which I don't blame them.


Today was a blah, dull, gray day. The temperature got up to 37 for a while, but with not much wind and no sun, even the little ice on the harbor didn't melt. The wind has now picked up from the northeast, and it is supposed to get cold tonight and maybe snow tomorrow. I have my fingers crossed.


So today, when there really wasn't much to see except for the minor changes in the sky and the ice, the camera came up at its regular time and worked except when I had the system down. Figures.


I did poke around a bit more, but I'm stymied on the disk problem, so I have a call into Gateway, but they haven't called me back. So I guess tomorrow I will get on the phone in person and start raising hell, especially about people calling back. I'm at the point where I need answers.


Other than that, I did nothing, as usual. It was a good day to do that. The computer was hanging regularly, and Jewel Quest was hanging even more regularly, so I suppose I rebooted the system a couple of dozen times. I also made a valiant but vain attempt to download Shockwave from Adobe on the laptop (at 26.4kb) which said, in one window, that it downloaded successfully, but didn't work. Geez, sometimes nothing works right. I thought I would email Adobe and see if they respond to questions.


Dinner should have been nice - steak and a veggie mixture with carrots, corn and asparagus - but it was only so-so. The steak was tough and the veggie mixture had enough of the tough bottom stems of the asparagus in it that it was sort of like chewing grass. Besides, Buster thought he wanted some steak, and of course he can't have any, so when he realized I wasn't going to give him any, he went thump onto the floor and stalked off in a huff. Beef and beef juice makes him barf, and I don't need that.


So that's all there is, and maybe I can do the early bit tonight?


January 10

It snowed lightly until about noon, but the wind was dying away, and the last snowflakes were big puffy ones floating softly down in calm winds. The winds did begin to pick up later, but there wasn't any more snow until after dark. The wind has shifted around to the south, and it is snowing again: I can't see the lights of town. We only got a couple of inches, but still that's better than all brown. John Dee is still hopeful that there will be more to come. The temperature stayed around 20 until about 5:00, and it is now rising, to about 28. But it is snowing again, and that's good.


The light winds and low temperatures overnight left a film of ice over a large part of the harbor, but it had broken up into thin pancakes - crepes - by this afternoon. I'm sure that now that the winds are picking up again, it will all be blown away. The lake is so warm, it takes more than a day or two in the teens to put down a good layer of ice. I'm waiting expectantly to see it. I have pictures from 2001 and 2002 with solid ice all the way to the lighthouse, and I know that in 2002 my caretaker came out to check the house by driving his snowmobile over it. Couldn't do that last year, for sure, and not so far this year either.


I vegged again today. I was awake around 8:30 and just decided not to get up, so it was noon before I got to the office, and I didn't do anything much all day long.


I did fold the underwear this morning, and I put the next load of pots and pans to soak, but that was about it. I did have a thought or two about the disk, but I didn't feel like getting into that again today.


So that is all there is, and the wind is gusting again. It doesn't come from the south very often at that speed, and it sounds really strange to hear it. And I'm off to bed again.


January 9

Well, finally!


When I jumped into bed last night, I noticed that the light from town was obscured...it was snowing lightly at last! I also noticed that the lighthouse light was stuck, pointing more or less toward my roof. This morning it was out. So much for the Coast Guard's "new and improved" light!


Anyway, I got up at a rather reasonable hour this morning, but I had to fill my pill dispensers, so it was a while before I got to the office, and of course the computer hung up overnight, so we didn't get to see the early morning.


It was a taste of real winter, for sure. The temperature was between 16 and 18 all day, and the northwest wind was between 25 and 40 mph. Wave after wave of lake effect snow squalls came across the harbor, and the only thing was, there wasn't that much snow. I think probably by this time there's about 3" down. Anyway, it was fun to watch the mountain fade out and fade back in again. It was also fun to see the snow down the harbor when there wasn't anything going on here.


The only thing was, about 4:00 there was a poor little nuthatch pecking around on the deck trying to find a seed. Between the wind and the coons, I didn't want to put out the feeders today, but I felt really bad about it. He is a cute little bird, and I hope he found something to hold him through the night.


The task of the day was supposed to be to rebuild the new disk, which is the reason the camera was down for a good portion of the day. Well! When I plugged the new disk in as the slave drive, Windows wouldn't load - it  gets to the IDE driver and gets a protection fault. Now you understand, this worked a month ago. I tried everything I could think of, and I think I only succeeded in making things worse. So I guess I will have to call Gateway and see if there is somebody there who can help me figure this one out. Curiously, I didn't have one freeze while I was fiddling around. There were a lot of other crazy things I observed, but I won't bore you with them. Anyway, I'm stuck until I can get Windows (and not safe mode) to load with both disks plugged in. Really, really weird.


Anyway, I gave up around 4:00, and I plan to try to get to bed at a reasonable hour tonight so that I can have at it tomorrow again.


I did get to watch the weather while things were (or weren't) loading, and that was fun. 


I don't get the idea that we are going to be inundated with snow, but it does seem like we may get some every day, and that would be good. I'm waiting for the junipers to get covered completely. Then I'll know it's winter for sure.


But it's a cold, windy night in the field tonight, for sure.


January 8

I made it into bed at a semi-reasonable time last night, but then I had a little tummy upset that kept me up for an hour and a half, more or less, so when I did get back to bed, I slept long and hard. Whatever it was, it didn't last into today, and I feel OK, a bit tired and a bit blah, but no tummy stuff.


Anyway, I had just gotten up when Terry called, and we had a nice conversation (considering my financial situation), but that sort of shot the day and I didn't do much except write a check and take it and the barrel back to the post office.


However, I discovered, when I finally looked hard out the front windows, that all the white bird feeders and their hooks were gone, as well as the platform feeder from the deck...so those pesky coons were back last night. So I took a walk down under the deck and recovered the feeders and one hook. Where the other one has gone to, I do not know, darn it. Someplace in my yard there are several feeder hooks and pieces of hooks, as well as some chains off the platform feeder. I wish I could find them. I also had to bring in the wooden feeder, because it was empty and swinging wildly around in the wind, and I was afraid it might hit the house and break or possibly even hit the window and break it.


Evidently the coons have discovered that if they unhook the feeders and drop them on the ground, the tops open and they can get out what is inside. Of course, they don't like thistle seed, so that was just spilled out on the ground, but all the sunflower seeds were gone. Damned coons.


My new feeders came today, so I will consider where to hang them tomorrow. Damned coons.


The weather...oh, the weather. Overnight, the temperature dropped to 25, and between 4:51 and 5:07 (according to the NWS station - I wouldn't know, I was dead to the world) the wind went from dead calm to 23-33 mph from the northwest. I do know it was blowing the couple of times I was briefly awake. The temperature eventually got back up to 28, but the wind has continued unabated. And where, pray, is the snow? With winds like that, from that direction, we should be having almost continuous lake effect snow squalls.


Well, this is 2007. Overnight, we had maybe inch - just enough to show on the mountain and slick up the roads - and that's all there was. Not even a flake all day long. Wow, what a winter!


However, when I went out to fetch the bird feeders, wearing my parka and a hat and heavy gloves, the only part of me that was at all cool were my thighs. If I'd had on a pair of longjohns, I would have been quite cozy, and it was nice out. It felt good. If only it would snow!


I read a couple of different takes on the weather, and apparently we are going to have more seasonal temperatures for the next couple of weeks, but the amount of snow is up for grabs. I can understand El Nino causing the warmer temps, but where in tarnation is the snow? Nobody, it seems, can explain that one. According to the guy on Accuweather (there is a noontime video now by a guy who is rather interesting to hear, if I can get my problems with the video resolved) and John Dee, over the next couple of weeks, we may finally get some snow. I was happy to hear that Accuweather is just as aware as John is that the lack of snow in the eastern half of the continent is of considerable concern. Some of these people seem to think that anything west of the Allegheny Mountains doesn't matter at all.


It does, guys. It does.


I ate late and strangely today, and while my dinner was in the microwave, I began the slow job of doing something about the kitchen. It's going to take a while. All the dirty clothes I left on Champine the last time I left came today, so I do need to do do some more wash, and I really need to do some sorting and folding and putting away.


The computer was fine until about 5:00 this afternoon (well - after I rebooted it this morning), when it started going down and not rebooting until I let it sit a while, so whatever my problem is, it's getting worse. I keep getting little hints that make me think it's the video card, but I still don't know how to determine that for sure. I did get my personal files backed up to the travel disk today, so if I get up at a reasonable hour tomorrow, I think I will try building the new disk again (this time, the right way), and start using that. The symptoms I had today might indicate that the problem has been the disk drive all along. We shall see.


I really want to get that resolved, and get the computer back under the desk, so that I can have at the beads again...and put away all the stuff that needs to go in the cabinet behind the CPU.


I also bit the bullet and changed the resolution on the monitor. I had set it to 1280 x 1024, as being a compromise between what it wants (1680 x 1024, I think) and what I can read, and I just got tired of squinting, so I set it back to 1024 x 768, which is nice and big. Even Trevor thought 1280 x 1024 was small, and my old eyes don't need that strain. I can't get a driver that has the right aspect (they only have it for XP), so I will have to make do. The aspect is off enough that circles come out as ovals, but the current setting is closer than the old one was. Otherwise, this monitor is so clear and sharp and the color is so good, I'm very happy with it. I will just have to remember not to change the geometry of any pictures I happen to process with Photoshop.


So that was my truncated day, and maybe I can catch up tonight.


January 7

I did make it into bed around 10:30 last night, but it took me a while to get to sleep - I wonder why? Heh-heh. And I was up any number of times overnight, so I stayed in bed until about 10:00 this morning, when Buster began to inform me - loudly - that I had been lying there too long.


It seems like it was only partly cloudy last night, and at intervals I could see the shadow cast by the moon. this morning, when the Girdle of Venus was almost on the horizon, there was the moon shining above it. Too bad the computer hung up at 9:30 last night. We might have gotten a picture. Someone captured the view from the other Copper Harbor cam around 8:30, and evidently it was a pretty sunrise. I wouldn't know. I said, "Oh, lovely moon!" and went back to sleep. I seem to be able to sleep a lot lately.


The temperature actually rose overnight, and got to a high of 37 this afternoon, with moderate southwest winds, right before it started to rain. YUCK! It did snow a bit in Houghton, where it was several degrees colder. But yuck!


I didn't do much, I'm afraid. I was going to work on the kitchen, which is unsanitary again, but except to get most of the stuff out of the dishwasher, I didn't. My back was bothering me, as it frequently does in cool damp weather. Instead, I looked at and sorted some beads, and I finally got things rearranged, consolidated and thrown out in the office so that I can actually walk from the door to the chair and move the chair around so that I can get to the keyboard. The desk is still mostly inaccessible, because of the computer, and it is covered with stuff, a lot of which needs to go into the cupboard behind the computer. I do think I have made enough room that I can replace the three light bulbs that have recently burned out. I think I've mentioned before that these canister lights seem to burn out in bunches. I believe that one of the ones that is gone is one that burned out before (so much for Wal-Mart el cheapo light bulbs), but the two others aren't. There's also one in the bathroom. So I guess it's time to get out my bulb changing pole and try that exercise again before I resort to the ladder. Tomorrow, maybe.


So it was a quiet day. The computer was really acting up, and several times, it wouldn't reboot after it hung, until I let it sit for a few minutes. So whatever is wrong with it is getting worse. I was thinking about running it in safe mode for a while, just to be sure none of the basic functions is broken, but the keyboard wouldn't work (it's fine now - I think maybe it was just a bad load). I am still inclining toward the video card, because when it isn't happening very often, it seems to happen more when I am playing one of the games that uses video functions. However, I don't know quite how to check that except to start changing things wholesale, and I spent enough money on it last year that I really don't want to do that. Anyway, it drove me nuts for a while, although it seems to have straightened out now...I hope!


And that's all there is. I certainly hope the rain turns to snow overnight and we begin to get real winter. This weather is just too weird for words.


January 6 - The Epiphany of Our Lord

OK, tonight I will be earlier, I promise.


I got up around noon, and while I was in the bathroom we had a very short snow squall...and that was it. Poo. How to tease us. The rest of the day was gray and blah, with temperatures that fell very slowly to just above freezing, and gusty winds in the 20-30 mph range.


I spent some time this morning trying to decide if it was Friday or Saturday (the four day week just added to my usual confusion). Finally I decided it was in fact Saturday, and I'd better go to the post office, which was right: there  was a whole barrel of stuff that had come for me since Tuesday. I keep forgetting that all the new catalogs plus the magazines all come the first week of the month. So I have plenty of reading material. In addition there were the usual bills, pleas for money and quarterly reports that I throw away unopened. Mostly a lot of junk.


Otherwise, it was a short, wasted day


Since today is Epiphany (a.k.a. Twelfth Night), tomorrow I can take down the Christmas banner and put the silver tree away. That is a family tradition my father initiated sometime after we moved to Champine. Before then, they put up the tree after I went to bed on Christmas Eve (yup, Santa brought the tree, too, when I was little), and we took it down on New Year's Day...hardly time to enjoy it. After I got over Santa, my dad decided we should keep the tree until January 6. We usually put it up the weekend before Christmas, so we had three weeks or so to enjoy it. It did get pretty dry, of course, but he didn't get much of an argument out of my mother. My dad didn't ever show much emotion, but he obviously loved Christmas trees, and all the other beautiful decorations my mother put up, as much as she and I did. It was a saying in the family, during my teen years, that if you stood still in our house the week before Christmas, you got a red bow tied on you. Ah, the good old days! I might add that my mother had more energy than I ever had.


Anyway, that's for tomorrow.


I'm happy to see that the little birds are happy about having the feeders filled, and the coons haven't been back. I'm looking forward to getting my new squirrel-resistant feeders. I'll continue to give them the stuff on the deck and the big wooden one, and in the spring I will probably hang the hanging platform feeder again, because the blue jays and some of the migrants like that, but mostly I want to feed the little birds. The catalog I got the feeders from had some interesting ideas for attracting warblers and other insect and fruit-eating birds, and next year I may try that.


Since last night, I've been thinking through an essay "Why I Love It Here". If it comes to fruition and turns out all right, I will probably add it to the web site.  We'll see. It's going to be long...there are so many reasons I love it here!


I took the two bead embroidered brooches to show Peggy tonight, and she loved them, so I guess I can add them to my list of things to do. At least I'm thinking about beads again. And there are enough different things I would like to try that maybe I won't get bored. Of course, in order to do everything I want to do, I will have to buy some more beads...isn't that always the way? 


But finally, finally I am beginning to think about possibly doing something creative again. It will gnaw away at me for a while, and then I will throw everything aside and just have at it...probably before the house is in any kind of order at all. But that's the way it always is. 


So that is all there is, and it's early enough that I have hope of getting back on a human schedule again.


January 5

Another late night. Oh, well. And another wasted day. Oh, well.


I finally got up this morning when Buster started yelling at me. He really things I should get up before noon, if I wake up. So I did. I was actually awake earlier, but I heard the rain pouring down on the deck and turned over and went back to sleep. 


It rained between 7 and 9, mostly, I think, but it was foggy and blah all day long. The temperature was almost steady around 37 and there wasn't much wind. It was dark and cloudy all day long. Blah.


When I went to dinner tonight, there was just the faintest dusting of snow in open spots, but it wasn't doing anything either when I went or when I came back.


Peggy is working hard to get the former dining room turned into a large gift shop, and she certainly has some nice things, although the place is still a mess. She has set aside a whole display case for my jewelry, so I really have some work to do. I wish I could get up the enthusiasm to do it. Maybe if I could ever get the computer out of the middle of the office? I don't know. Anyway, it's going to be a nice place, and she will have some of the same kinds of things she used to have in the old Mariner, which I still remember fondly. I got a lot of jewelry, boxes and vases from that store, and I really like her taste.


When I came home, the day-after-full moon was struggling to come out from behind the clouds, and it still is, but it's there, and it's bright, and I can see it. Unfortunately, I didn't hear about Comet McNaught until this morning, and it irks me that nobody said anything about it before today. We had a couple of clear nights this week when I could have seen it if I'd known it was there...so now it's cloudy again, and (I hope) it will be cloudy until after it disappears into the sun. Rats. I've only seen one or two comets in my lifetime, and this one appears to be a fairly visible one, even though it's quite close to the sun. And that just proves the rule I've noticed since I've been living here: if something is scheduled to happen in the sky, which requires clear skies to see, it will be cloudy. I have to sneak up on it, with no prior notice, in order to see it. That even happened with Mars a couple of years ago: most of the month of August was cloudy, so even if I'd had a telescope, it wouldn't have done me much good. Murphy strikes again.


So I guess that's about all I can think of tonight. I am still in my non-creative funk, and that's bad.


January 4

It was another late night, and another late morning, partly because I had trouble with the upload again.  However, I ended up accomplishing a little today...not in the way of cleaning the house, though. Maybe tomorrow? 


I finally managed to get my 2006 ledger up to date and the 2007 one set up. For some reason, whatever part of the computer is failing was doing it more often this afternoon, so I ended up having to save the file after each month and again after I made some other changes, but eventually it stopped happening, and I got the whole thing put together, the summary made, and everything is now up to date. I spent an appalling amount of money last year, most of it on moving all that stuff that's in the basement. I also bought a lot of beads...why is it that no matter how many I have, the things I want to make need beads I don't have? Another Murphy's Law, I guess. Otherwise, some things went up and some things went down, although the trend is definitely up.


This year, I would like to try to keep the ledger up to date on a monthly basis, at least so I can keep track of how things are going. However, since it's not my favorite task, we'll see how far I get. I've done that in the past, and it really is less of a pain to do it monthly rather than waiting even till the end of the quarter...or the end of the year.


The weather was interesting. It never got below 35 overnight, and it got up to 43 this afternoon, with no wind at all. It was partly cloudy, although the part that was cloudy was the part where the sun is for most of the day. There were several times where the sky overhead looked fairly clear, but there were thick clouds in the south. What all that bodes, I don't know, but it was interesting.


We have definitely set new record highs for the past two days, and today's record was set last year. We beat it by 7. What a strange winter. They are blaming it all on El Nino, plus global warming, but I wonder how much they really know about it? I do believe that global warming is real, but I'm not entirely sure how much the climate in certain parts of the world in certain years is being affected by it. I don't think they know enough to be sure. 


Anyway, whatever it is, I certainly hope it stops soon and we begin to get winter. It's not only for the tourists; we have had a real drought for the past month or so, and that isn't good for the woods. We need all that water to keep the woods green and growing.


I was glad to see that the coons weren't here last night, at least, and the little birds are glad to have their favorite foods available again. I did see one squirrel, but it was on the deck, where I piled a big pile of seed in the platform feeder.


So that was another day, and at least I accomplished one task that needed doing.


January 3

Well, I got waylaid by an insoluble game and it was very late before I got to bed. It was nice to see the moon shining brightly on the bed, although I do think there were probably some cirrus clouds up there, too, There certainly were when it dropped behind the trees later in the morning.


I didn't do anything further about the wash, although I'll have to tomorrow. I used the last pair of clean underpants this morning, so I will have to get the freshly washed ones out of the dryer and do some folding.


I did fill the bird feeders today, and I decided not to put out the tube feeder for a while. I ordered one that is supposed to be squirrel-proof, and it looks like it might even be fairly coon proof, too. We'll see. I really don't want to have to bring in the feeders every night, especially when the weather gets nasty.


I'm sure the weather will eventually get nasty, although you certainly couldn't say that today. The temperature got down to 30 briefly around 9:00, then it rose to about 40 for the afternoon with not much wind from the southwest. It wasn't totally clear for most of the day - in fact, the cirrus clouds began to turn into lower ones. The moon rose, but it was a hazy blob behind the clouds this evening, and it may be gone now. It is so bright that it will be light out anyway.


I removed the steri-strips this morning. My cut doesn't look very good, but it isn't bleeding or weeping or anything, and I think it will heal better uncovered, so long as I keep it clean. It's warm, so it's still healing like mad, and it isn't really very sore, unless I bang it.


Otherwise, I paid a couple of bills and ran them to the post office, and that was about it. I spent some time this evening making some special pages for my little black book where I keep all my computer information. I have login IDs on so many websites, that I have to write down the ID and password for each of them, and now there are so many that they really need to be organized alphabetically, so I made some pages that look sort of like address book pages. It took longer than it should have because the system froze and I lost everything the first time, then I had a hard time getting the two sides of the paper to line up properly - a problem with my printer that I've noticed before. Publisher is a weird program anyway, so it took some time and some fooling around. I wanted to save paper, so I wanted 5 3" x 5" pages per sheet, which meant turning a couple of them sideways. Then I had to cut them up. My 1/8" hole punch is someplace in the basement, so I'm not sure what I will do to get them punched, but I think the work will be worth it in the long run.


I've practiced what I call "creative laziness" all my life - I'm willing to do a considerable amount of work once in order to save time and effort forever after. That, of course, is what I hate about housework: it always has to be done over. \


I also cooked tonight, although it was one of those easy chicken recipes I have so many of - this one is with broccoli cheese soup. It was good, especially since I have lots of fresh broccoli left over from my veggie trays. This time, instead of cooking all the broccoli at once, I'm going to try cooking it as I warm up the chicken and rice. Broccoli gets sort of gray and limp and mushy when it's overcooked and warmed up and I don't like it so well then. Anyway, it tasted good. I used the last of the royal blend rice (along with some white), since I was able to get a new package the last time I was in town. I do like that blend. It's white, brown, red and wild rices, and it has a nice nutty flavor and sort of crunchy texture that's really good. I guess it must be partially processed, since some of the ingredients take a very long time to cook normally, and this cooks in 15 minutes. Yum.


So that was my quiet day. I noticed, when I was coming back from the post office, that I apparently missed the first meeting of the ladies, but they happen every two weeks anyway, and I don't believe there was a sign posted last Saturday when I was at the post office. I'll make the next one.


Maybe it will be another moonlit night in the field, and maybe not, but it should be bright outside anyway, and that will be nice.


January 2

So now it's a new year, and the days are getting marginally (about 1 minutes) longer.


I read for a while last night and was later getting to bed than I should have been, but I got back to where I was last spring when I was writing a bit. It was clear, but the moon was so bright I couldn't see any stars, and when I woke up around 4:00, the setting moon was shining right on my pillow. It is setting behind my neighbor's tree, where the sun sets in June, but I followed it down behind the tree.


And I slept through a very lovely morning, clear and sunny. The temperature bottomed out between 8:00 and 10:00, at about 27, but it rose to 37 late in the afternoon, with a southwest breeze. There were a few cirrus clouds late in the day, but they seem to have gone away with the sun.


Tonight, I was sitting in the dark, and when I looked out the east windows, the moon was shining in, so bright and clear I could walk around in the great room by it. Unfortunately, I walked on my bird feeder in the back hall, and now I have a repair job to do, but the moon is just gorgeous. It isn't full until tomorrow, but it's close enough.


Even though I was late, I actually did a couple of things today. I retrieved the bird feeders, although I did it late enough in the day that I didn't fill them. The chickadees are eating the thistle seed. Shows they'll eat most everything if they're hungry enough. The cylinder feeder (the one I stepped on) had migrated under the stairs from the deck, and somebody had torn off the tape I put over the hole that has no perch. So I guess I will have to bring in the feeders at night once I fill them. Damned raccoons.


I also washed two loads of clothes - the jeans and the underwear. The underwear is in the dryer now. How I could wear that many pairs of jeans in a month...but I've been waiting too long to go to the bathroom lately. Another New Year's resolution. So that is done, and tomorrow I will do up some more. It has been a month since I washed, so I guess it's time.


Otherwise, I wasted time. I'm at a spot in all my games where I can't get through the level I'm on, and I finished reading the one story last night, so I guess I'll have to go back to the other one.


One of these days, I will have to get back at the computer, so the new disk is in place when I talk to my neighbor. It was so pretty today, and I was so late, that I didn't do it today. I don't know that I'm feeling any braver than before, but I do know a few more things to try.


So that was my day, and tonight I'd like to try to get to bed a bit earlier.


January 1 - New Year's Day

A very Happy New Year to everyone, and thank you all so much for the nice greetings I've received. It never ceases to amaze me how many people read and follow this little thing. I certainly hope in the new year to make it more interesting.


I didn't get to bed before midnight, because I was reading, but it was quiet around here, and not like Grosse Pointe at all. I don't miss the fire crackers, rockets and guns one little bit...not to mention the times I've heard what sounded like bombs and automatic weapons.


When I went to bed, it was pouring rain, but sometime between 12:20 and 3:20, it turned to wet snow. I was awake at 3:20 when the phones went "bleep!" but came back on, but about two minutes later, they went "bleep!" again and stayed off. It was blowing pretty hard from the north, but I have no idea whether it was the wind or somebody hit a utility pole. We were down until after 7:00 this morning. The wind was strong all night long, and when the power came back on, the NWS station was reporting winds in the 25-35 mph range. However, by morning, the sky had cleared, and there was about an inch of snow. It sure was nice to look out the bathroom winter and see white! The temperature never did get below freezing, and it was around 34 all day. With the beautiful sunshine and clear skies, that sort of crystallized all the snow there was, although it didn't go away. Along about 7:00 this evening, the wind dropped and it is now very light.


It was a really pretty day, but the power glitches pretty much zapped the computer and the wireless receiver, so we don't have any pictures of the morning. The wind was so strong that there were lots of breakers between Porter Island and the lighthouse, and there were some hefty breakers on my beach, too. As much as I want snow, it was lovely to see and sit in the sun and see blue water. I took advantage of it by not doing anything.


The power came up in a dirty enough way that when I got to the computer, it was sitting in safe  mode, but just rebooting was fine, and it does appear that sometime over the past 24 hours, Charlie and company solved the problem with the streaming computer...or it left town. I am not paranoid about security like the computer magazines are, but I simply don't understand why everybody doesn't have up-to-date anti-virus and firewall software, as well as running SpyBot, AdAware, and probably PurgeIE on a regular basis. One of my readers pointed out PurgeIE to me several years ago, and I swear by it. It clears out all the cookies, cache and temp files that Internet Explorer leaves behind it, but it allows you to configure it, so that if there are cookies and other things you know you want to keep, you can. I run it at the end of every day and usually during the day as well, particularly after I do a Google search...and the garbage these websites leave behind them is just appalling. Even if it wasn't so easy to get malware from them, just the amount of disk space they take up is incredible, and there are sites out there that leave keystroke loggers and tracking software to see where you surf. I certainly don't surf anywhere I'm ashamed of, but it is nobody's business but mine what sites I visit. To my mind, tracking where I surf is just the same as if somebody was tracking what telephone numbers I dial, and none of that is anybody else's business. And I would be terminally embarrassed if I discovered that my computer was the one that was bringing a network to its knees.


Anyway, I'm really sorry there weren't any pictures before 1:00. I didn't sleep all that well last night, so it was fairly late before I got up, then I read for a while before I got dressed. Excuses. If you think I am going to start getting up at some ungodly hour of the morning just to see if the computer is still working, forget it. One of these days I will get its problem diagnosed and fixed, and then we will have pictures all day again.


I had thought about going out to dinner tonight, but I just decided to eat in instead. I really wanted bean soup, but there was evidently only one container of that, so instead I had a pasty, and I am happy to report that this batch of Pasty Central pasties is extremely good. I also got a couple of bottles of Toivo & Eino's Pasty Sauce - which is really ketchup with hot peppers in it  - and that made it even better. Yum! I wonder how long it will take me to get rid of a dozen pasties? Yum.


So that is all I know, and the new year is upon us. I have some work to do, besides fixing the computer, and I hope to hear from the guy who was working on the generator. I don't guess I would have hauled myself downstairs in the middle of the night to turn it on anyway, but if we could have a 4 hour power outage in this weather, a real blizzard would undoubtedly wreak real havoc. 


And that was the disappointment with the weather system overnight. That should have dropped at least 6" of snow in the harbor, and more in the upper elevations, but it didn't, and it sped off to the east before morning. John Dee is blaming it on El Nino, and he should know. Those blizzards they are having out in Colorado and Nebraska should be bringing equally much snow up to us, and they just aren't. It's a real disappointment, and I worry about my friends in the tourist business. And I keep hoping and praying that the pattern will change and we'll get dumped on. We, out here in Norland, have the equipment to keep our road open, and Keweenaw desperately needs snow.


So let's hope. It's a clear night in the field tonight, and I look forward to seeing stars.




Last  updated 08/25/10 09:02 PM