edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
I got up at 4:00am EST on Thursday, so as to shower, eat breakfast, finish packing, and set up my apartment before heading outside shortly before 5:00am to wait for my cab. In the event, the cab was about ten minutes late, but I still got to the airport and through security in plenty of time. The flight from Ithaca to Detroit went smoothly, and I made my transfer with several minutes to spare even though they were slow to unpack the plane-side checked bags. (These are bags that would be carry-on items in larger planes, but small jets have small overhead compartments so they basically wrap a tag around your suitcase handle, stash it in the cargo compartment with the actual checked bags, and then hand it back to you at the end of the flight.)

cut for length )

As for my reading: I got through the entirety of C. S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain, which was one of my "I am not entirely sure where I picked this book up, but I should probably read it before donating it" books, and another several sections of Religion in the Japanese Experience: Sources and Interpretations, a textbook composed of various themed excerpts from other works and brief explications thereof.

Lewis is, as always, infuriating because I disagree vehemently with a number of his assumptions, with most of his theology, and with a bunch of his implicit politics... and yet he keeps coming to conclusions about human experience and what a good life should look like that are unnervingly close to my own in some respects. So it's a constant swing between, "yes, exactly, that was beautifully put!" and "but HOW can a reasonably intelligent and well-meaning person be so WRONG?!?!" Some other day I should probably quote one of the passages I thought was most apt, and also take a stab at analyzing one point where I think he went most terribly awry.

(Also science has marched on and Lewis's chapter on animal pain and consciousness is consequently even more awful and wrong-headed than when he wrote it, though I think I would have considered it awful and wrong-headed even decades ago because he's arguing from a foundation of theological assumptions which I utterly fail to share. But that is something where I could point to actual science to prove that he is talking through his hat, whereas the other point is more of a philosophical/ethical thing, and thus less subject to hard proof... though one could probably cite various studies on criminal justice and prison reform which I believe tend more toward my side of the argument than toward his. Hmm. *makes note to look into that* But anyway, I'd want to do more research and marshal my arguments in logical order before venturing into that particular alligator swamp.)

And that is what I have been up to for the past three days. :)
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The taxi was ten minutes late, but Ithaca airport security is pretty efficient so I got to the plane on time. All my connections went smoothly, and though takeoff from the Twin Cities was a little delayed by weather, that flight actually landed at Bemidji a few minutes early. Victory!

I am on the island, in the cabin, and will probably make a longer post tomorrow after I have pulled myself back together a bit more. :)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
1. Laundry! Washed, dried, air-dried, folded, hung, and put away.

2. Changed linens.

3. Withdrew cash to pay for cab rides to and from the airport.

4. Bought gum for airplane takeoffs and landings.

more items under the cut )

21. Finished packing, aside from a few things I am still using/will use overnight, which I'll add to my suitcase or backpack in the morning.

The plan is to go to bed at 10pm tonight (and take a Benadryl in hopes of knocking myself out) so I will not be completely brain-fried when I get up at 4am in the morning. UGH.

I must remember to light candles to Meteora, Constructa, Constricta, Wayland, and Trilitus, to request good weather, no mechanical troubles with the planes, a smooth and timely flight, no airport delays or complications, and no taxi delays. (My pantheon of travel gods is about 85% a joke with myself. But only 85%. The other 15%... well, that's between me and my superstitions. *wry*)

And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go wash some dishes and clean my teeth.
edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
I am writing this one day after the fact, but oh well, so it goes.

My flight from Bemidji left at 12:30ish, so Mom, Dad, and I left the island at 10:45 so as to reach the airport in plenty of time. Bemidji is a very dinky airport, but their staff are very, shall we say, careful, so getting through security takes a while. I suspect this may be because they are such a dinky airport. The Ithaca airport, for all its tiny size, gets a fair amount of traffic -- it is served by THREE airlines! *gasp shock awe* -- and so their staff are a lot more practiced and efficient.

I had a three-hour layover in the Twin Cities, during which I ate lunch, did a couple crosswords, and read a chunk of The Iroquois by Dean R. Snow. (I have been on a local history kick lately.) Then, right after I boarded the plane to Detroit, the captain announced that a line of thunderstorms was moving over Detroit, which meant planes currently in the air couldn't land, which meant planes currently on the ground but intending to head for Detroit weren't allowed to take off; this is, I believe, known as a ground stop. Anyway, we sat at the gate for about 45 minutes, and ended up taking off almost exactly one hour late.

I had a scheduled two-hour layover in Detroit (which is more like one and a half, really, since layovers are counted with reference to departure time rather than boarding time), so even after losing an hour to the weather I still had time to run and grab some dinner -- a bacon cheeseburger with grilled onions and pickles, from Fuddruckers, mmmmmm -- and make it to my assigned gate with fifteen minutes to spare. The flight into Ithaca was smooth and on time, and my suitcase (which I had voluntarily checked in the Twin Cities, since the flight was full and they didn't have enough room in the overhead compartments) was waiting for me at baggage claim.

Then I discovered my car battery was dead.

*headdesk*

Fortunately the guy staffing the parking lot ticket payment booth was just about to get off-shift, and he offered to give me a jump-start. I got my jumper cables out, he duly drove over and fastened them (and now I know how to do that myself in the hopefully unlikely event of another dead battery), and got me going again. I then spent over half an hour driving randomly around the greater Ithaca area, to make sure I got the battery recharged enough to be able to start the car again today. (I haven't checked that yet, but I need to go buy groceries this afternoon or evening, so fingers crossed!)

I think what happened is that when I parked, I turned on one of the auxiliary ceiling lights by the rear-view mirror to make sure I hadn't left anything in the car. Then I forgot to turn it off and didn't notice the light since it's pretty faint and I was parked close to a street-light. But even a small, faint light bulb will drain a car battery over the course of a week, so whoops.

-----

In other news, all my peppers survived my absence! Actually -- and this is the really crazy part -- I seem to have more peppers than when I left. Last week I took the bitten-off top half of the much-abused pepper my mom brought me and stuck its stem into the empty pot that used to hold a completely uprooted pepper. And I think it has grown new roots! At any rate, its leaves are all still green and healthy-looking rather than wilted and shriveled, so I'm pretty sure it's been getting water and nutrients from somewhere, and it is sitting upright in a patch of soil, so... we'll see!
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
We had oatmeal for breakfast today. Mom likes to add dried fruit as she cooks it, so there were craisins and dried apricots mixed in; this adds extra deliciousness. :-)

A thunderstorm ambled through between 7 and 8am, and the rain continued off and on until about 10am, but there were several clear hours in the early afternoon so we (Dad, Mom, Dottie, and I) went for a moderately long walk around 1pm. We went to the south shore and walked all the way to the campground, then cut inland. We decided not to go all the way to Windigo, since the path along the southeastern edge is very overgrown and swampy this year (like the part by the east portage was before Dad and I fixed it), so we came home more directly through the forest. The wind today was mostly from the south or southeast, so we had a nice breeze in the first half of the walk, but the interior of the forest was very still and too humid for Mom's comfort.

We did some chores upon returning home: vacuuming and laundry, mostly. I took a nap from about 3:30pm to 5pm, during which another, bigger thunderstorm (or maybe a chain of small ones?) hit us. There is no real insulation in the cabin, half the walls are made of windows, and the ceilings are quite low, so the sound of falling rain is loud and clear. I find it soothing.

After dinner Mom and I finished a couple more crosswords and played a round of Bananagrams, which she won as her final draw letter was an M, which is a lot easier to play than my final draw of Z. *wry*

I have printed my boarding passes for tomorrow and am partially packed. Mostly I am waiting for one pair of pants to finish drying, and of course for all the stuff I need to use in my morning routines, to say nothing of the laptop on which I am typing these words. But everything is folded and ready to put into the relevant bags, so the actual packing should not take more than five minutes.

And that is pretty much that.
edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
I set my alarm for 8:30am, to make sure I got up and fed the dog at a reasonable time, but I ended up waking at 8am because my feet were freezing. The temperature dropped into the fifties overnight, and the wind continued to be fairly strong -- it just swung from east-northeast to east-southeast. I got up to close a bunch of windows, and figured I might as well feed the dog then. I also let her out on a leash to pee, though I didn't take her for a walk since it was raining steadily, and chilly rain is miserable, particularly in a forest.

I went back to bed and got up for real shortly after 9:30am, at which point I dressed in yesterday's clothes, put on one of Dad's cruddy cabin jackets, and took Dottie for a short loop walk. (It had stopped raining, but the forest was still dripping incessantly.) Then I showered, ate breakfast, and spent the morning online and finishing Anna Karenina. Victory is mine!

I took Dottie for a second walk around 1pm, dropping the second dock board on the northern muddy patch of the Windigo trail as we went. I split some more logs when we returned home, and then quite sensibly spent the rest of the afternoon indoors.

I like gray rainy days when I have nothing to do and nowhere to be. They make me tired, both physically and mentally, but sometimes it's nice to have an excuse to sit around and think about existential things. And the final chapters of Anna Karenina are useful in that sense, since I find a bunch of Tolstoy's themes worth arguing. I mean, yes, we are bubbles of insignificance in the vast cosmos, here for no reason whatsoever. So what? That just means life can mean whatever we want it to mean. And really, if you think people can't be kind and do good without reference to an overarching god, what does that say about you? I think reason is not selfish -- or if it is, it's just reason that hasn't thought far enough. It is better for you, not just everyone else, to establish fair and just systems, since nobody can ever be top dog all the time, and the golden rule is sort of preemptive self-defense from some perspectives, regardless of any emotional/spiritual impulse toward fairness.

(I hear that after writing Anna Karenina Tolstoy only got MORE didactic. Since I already find his particular brand of didacticism annoying, I think I should not read any of his later works.)

Anyway, Mom and Dad returned to the island around 6:45pm, and we ate dinner around 7:30pm. Dad's reunion was fine, but not as well-organized as it should have been. (The venue was slightly too small for the number of attendees, so it was difficult to move around and find people he used to know.) I don't think we have any specific plans for Monday, though Mom has said she doesn't want to leave the island. That is fine with me. :-)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Mom and Dad left for the Twin Cities at 9:30 this morning, leaving me and Dottie on our own. I have been spending a bunch of time online, and have also gotten into part 8 of Anna Karenina -- I have about 40 pages left of a 820-page edition.

I walked Dottie twice. The first time, shortly after noon, was really two walks. You see, she mopes when her people are away, and one symptom of this is sitting down and refusing to move. So I had to bodily carry her out to the powerline slashing, set her down, and start running, which is enough of a jolt to overcome her resistance. Once you get past that initial balking, she's almost always fine and enthusiastic. So I took her through a short loop trail, and then when we got back to the cabin, instead of going in, I grabbed one of the remaining dock boards and got Dottie to accompany me on the Windigo east portage loop trail so I could lay the last board on the southern muddy patch of the path.

I walked her a second time at about 5:30pm, again on the east portage loop, and dropped the first of two boards on the northern muddy patch. And I walked her one last time, just now -- a tiny walk back to the slashing, north past three cabins, and back home -- so she had a chance to pee if she wanted.

In between walks and reading, I split a bunch of logs. I have nearly finished the small pile of pine logs. There are two that were too long for the mechanical splitter, which I may split manually with a wedge and sledgehammer tomorrow. The rest of that stack is stuff that's too skinny to bother splitting. I have also split several logs from another woodpile, but that one is much larger and I doubt I will finish it this year.

I ate cold cereal for breakfast, my leftover pizza for lunch, some ham and crackers for a late afternoon snack, and Dad's leftover salmon for dinner.

Yesterday was dead calm and hot. It got humid overnight, but today the wind has picked up and it's dried out through the afternoon and evening. I have turned off all the fans and closed a few windows, and I may close a few more before I go to bed.

And that has been my day. Very quiet, very calm. :-)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
On Thursday I did nothing much: went with Mom to take Dottie on a walk in the early afternoon, and goofed around in the lake for a while. I am in pretty good shape as far as walking goes, but that's only one kind of exercise and I discovered that as far as swimming goes... I am VERY out of shape. I should work on that, or at least incorporate some other activities into my "pretend I am a vaguely active person" regime.

At 5:30pm, we went to the Shaws' cabin for what was billed as conversation and snacks, but ended up including enough food that it counted as a filling dinner. Mmmm. I chatted with an island resident who was interested in my job search (she is a former HR person, so it's kind of her field) so perhaps something will come of that. Or perhaps not. Who knows!

Today we had pancakes and bacon for breakfast (yesterday was English muffins and soft-boiled eggs, FYI), after which Dad and I carted two old and slightly worn/rotted dock boards to the muddy, swampy parts of the Lake Windigo path and dropped them to bridge the worst of the muck. There are three remaining boards, which I will attempt to position over the weekend while Mom and Dad are in the Twin Cities for Dad's 50th high school reunion. I figure I can just walk Dottie on a set loop and carry one board each time.

Tonight we took the boat over to the mainland and drove to Bemidji to mail some letters, do a little shopping, and eat out for dinner. We went to Tutto Bene, which has changed owners and revamped its menu and general presentation over the last couple years. It's a touch expensive, perhaps, but the food is VERY good. The chefs are confident enough that there is no salt or pepper provided on the tables... and you don't need any, either, because the food is good enough to stand as-is. :-) I got the pizza of the day -- which was pepperoni, pesto, gorgonzola, asparagus, red onion, and arugula, on a thin, hard crust -- and then had the calamari appetizer as my entree. It's not a typical American calamari. There was no breading, and the squid pieces are served on top of polenta with olive tapenade and some scallions. It is also delicious, and just the right size to produce no leftovers. (I did bring half the pizza home, and will probably eat it for lunch tomorrow.) Mom got a salad with cucumber, avocado, and greens, and then a hangar steak with king oyster mushrooms, cooked greens, and interesting mashed potatoes. Dad had the soup of the day -- Tuscan-style vegetable, with a tomato base and contents that included local yellow squash -- and then the fish of the day, which was white Alaskan salmon served with grilled cherry tomatoes and... some other stuff I can't remember.

(I am not sure why I report restaurant meals in such detail. I suspect it may be because they are the kind of thing Mom tends to remember and use as reference points, the same way she remembers details of hotels and motels we have stayed at. So I am creating a cheat sheet to help me say, "Yes, I know what you are talking about" when she brings up a past meal, instead of giving her a blank stare and saying, "We ate food?")

Anyway, topic change! I tend to use my vacations to read Notable Books that are part of the general Western literary canon. This has seen me through Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot, and The Possessed; Victor Hugo's Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame; and a couple other projects. This summer, I have, for the third year in a row, set myself the goal of finishing Anna Karenina. (Last year I got distracted by Wolf Hall, so I have no regrets.) I am in part 7 of 8 parts, and probably in the final eighth of the book by page count, so the end is in sight!

Maybe next year I will take another stab at War and Peace, which defeated me handily several years back and which I have yet to work up the mental oomph to tackle a second time. :-)
edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
Greetings from Minnesota!

My trip went fairly well, all things considered. We were late leaving Ithaca on Tuesday morning because the plane was slightly overweight and had to burn fuel for several minutes before the air traffic controllers would let it take off. Then we had to taxi for what seemed like forever after landing in Detroit, which meant I had an incredibly tight connection and basically ran through the airport from one gate to the other. Fortunately I know the Detroit airport pretty well by now, so I didn't waste any time trying to figure out which way I needed to go. I reached the Twin Cities a bit ahead of schedule and had a two hour layover there, and reached Bemidji slightly early as well, whereupon I met Mom and Dad, we drove to Cass Lake, and headed out to Star Island.

I spent the afternoon alternately doing crosswords (with participation from Mom) and taking a much-needed nap. Dinner was corned beef (with carrots, onions, and potatoes) and green salad. After dinner we did more crosswords, I got my laptop set up and connected to the cabin's wireless network, and went to bed around 1:30am.

Today (because it is still Wednesday by Central Daylight Time, even though my journal and computer are still set to Eastern Daylight Time) I got up at 9:30am, had some cereal for breakfast, and then Dad and I headed out to do trail maintenance at noon. This is a very high water year, so portions of the path around the east shore of Lake Windigo (the lake within Star Island) are extremely swampy/muddy, and the boardwalk section was soaked and unable to dry because of overhanging grasses. So we cut a LOT of shrubbery and grass, scraped mud and moss off the boards, and generally created a clear path where before there had been only a faint and overgrown memory of a trail. Tomorrow or Friday we will carry down some old dock boards to lay across the worst mud patches, and Dad will probably bring some weedkiller to spray on the patches of poison ivy he identified. (Dad is hypersensitive to poison ivy, so he wages a one-man war on the stuff every summer. Mom is not sensitive to poison ivy at all, and so far as Vicky and I can tell, we inherited Mom's reaction instead of Dad's... though any time we got remotely close to the stuff as kids, Dad swooped in and immediately washed the suspected area of contact, so it's not like we have hard proof either way. *wry*)

Mom and Dad headed in to Bemidji to buy some clothes and groceries in the afternoon, leaving me and Dottie (their dog) to our own devices. I worked on another crossword puzzle and surfed the web a bit, in between bouts of sitting outside with Dottie and watching red squirrels and passing motor boats. They returned around 5:30pm, at which point we promptly began preparing dinner -- steak, corn on the cob, and another green salad. After dinner we headed down to visit the Belts, since they had invited us to a game night. We talked a while, and then played Farkle, which is a dice game where the person who gets the most points over 10,000 wins. I came second.

I can hear waves lapping against the shore as I type. The wind has swung toward the east and picked up after dark, and it's rustling busily through the trees. It's funny how I live most of my life away from the lake, but these sounds don't feel strange. They feel like home.

And now I am going to read for a while before going to bed. :-)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Four views from the end of our dock.

north

1. Looking north toward O'Neil's Point (aka Anderson's Point). There is a UU camp over there, between the east portage and the point, called Unistar. I have always vaguely wanted to attend even though that's kind of silly when I am already an islander... but hey, I'm a UU too, right? And it would definitely not be the same as spending a week in my family's cabin.

east

2. Looking east across the lake toward the mainland. You can see a few fishing boats toward the right of the picture. This was a pretty calm day, just a light breeze, so the waves are quite small. We had some other days where the lake was as still as glass, but that's quite rare overall. Whitecaps are sadly more common.

south

3. Looking south toward Ah-Nung Point (aka Starr's Point). Cedar Island is technically in this picture, but it got lost against the backdrop of the mainland. Alas for my cell phone camera's imperfect focus.

west

4. Looking west toward the stairs up to our cabin. The stones at the base of the bluff are not natural; they are part of a riprap anti-erosion project that a whole bunch of cabin-owners collectively paid for after wrangling permission from the Forest Service, back when a series of high water years were threatening to carve the ground out from under our cabins. You can see the project extending along the shore in the northern and southern views.

These pictures were all taken within a minute of each other, despite the dramatic difference in perceived colors in the final photo. Light has funny effects sometimes, doesn't it? *wry*

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Elizabeth Culmer

June 2017

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