Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Monday, July 31, 2017

Out of Control & Thankful

One of the things we love most about where we live is the peace and quiet. No neighbors. No dogs barking. No neighborhood lawn mowers or weed trimmers. No kids playing, yelling or fighting in an adjacent backyard. No music blaring from passing cars or nearby homes. Silence. Blissful silence. Of course, we do have birds of all sorts singing away and pounding on trees, but those aren't disturbing noises; and the sound of the wind chime on the front porch is pleasant to our ears. I know I've mentioned that we don't have TV service available to us here, but we do have radios and a stereo system. We keep up on the events of the day through radio and Internet, but for the vast majority of our day, our home is quiet. Very quiet.

Even our marriage is calm and peaceful. We do not enjoy chaos. Hate tension. I'm positive we spend much more time engaged in conversation with each other than the average couple, but we're very much in sync with one another. OK, we talk a lot. Every. Day. About everything. Having a husband who communicates is one of the biggest blessings of my life. After spending time alone with the Lord each morning separately, our routine is to finish emptying the coffee pot with some conversation in the great room. Mr. Cut Off then goes about his day - doing the things he needs to do outside - and I go about my day - doing the things I need to do inside. We don't get bored easily and don't have a need to go searching for adventure every weekend. We love being home. Love.

We're both very routine-oriented and seem to thrive best when there's a sense of order to our lives. We each have a favorite coffee cup. Dinner is at 6:00 p.m. The menu plan for the week and/or next several weeks is always in my head. The pantry is stocked; the freezer is full. Dirty dishes don't sit in the sink. The laundry is folded and put away as it is washed and dried. The house is tidy before we go to bed, and the bedding has to be turned down perfectly before we can crawl in. Sounds pretty dull, huh? Or crazy?

So, what happens when life throws us an unexpected curve ball - when our *non-schedule* schedule is interrupted? When the order in our lives gets totally out of order?

Generally, I think we handle it pretty well. If you stop by our home unexpectedly, it won't destroy our day. We'll probably even enjoy your company. We don't sweat those small interruptions. After all, we've both had massive unexpected curve balls in our lives. A drunk driver took the life of my first husband when I was just 28. You know, back when I thought I had my life plan all figured out. Suddenly, my hopes, dreams and plans had all vanished, and nothing was ever going to be the way I thought it was going to be. Mr. Cut Off suffered the loss of a son - just as suddenly. It was/always will be a terrible, heart-wrenching grief that's impossible to describe. In the grand scheme of things, these back problems aren't even a hiccup. Chronic pain is no fun, but few people get through this life without experiencing a taste of it. The Lord has seen us through much, much worse.

As much as we like to plan things and keep things in our lives nice and relaxed, neat and organized, things happen. Right? Due to our current back issues, our July to-do list has taken a serious hit. Actually, the list had to be completely shredded - then stomped on - then burned. Mr. Cut Off's back went out on a Wednesday. Mine went out exactly one week later. It seemed like really, really, really bad timing. But, was it?

As we were rehearsing the events of these past few weeks, we realized that the timing was actually pretty perfect. I'm not saying that having serious back pain is convenient, but if it has to happen, this is the time for it. It's not winter, so Mr. Cut Off isn't worried about plowing the driveway or filling the wood burner. We weren't away from home on vacation. That could have been a logistical nightmare and surely would have made everything much more complicated. We had no overnight house guests scheduled this month. My mom happened to be here when my back buckled, and I didn't fall forward on my face disrupting the healing of my recent bone graft. We received excellent, compassionate medical care. The weather has been picture perfect - further enhancing the lovely view from our recliners. 

Speaking of recliners, the new ones we purchased last year have been a huge blessing this past week due to their great lumbar support. I could go on and on. In retrospect, it was perfect timing.

It's a very common thing for us to have conversations about what the Lord has done for us. We'll often sit here reciting lists of things for which we're thankful. Here are some things we mentioned this last week:

Nothing takes God by surprise.
He cares about our pain.
We can always trust Him.
He is faithful.
His love is unconditional.
He is always good.
He is always right.
He's with us on good days and on bad days.
He uses others to help meet our needs.
His Word gives us guidance.
He answers prayer.
His timing is always perfect.

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:26-33)
All is well in the Keweenaw.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


I neglected to mention that staying in a hospital for a few days does come with a few perks.

(1) If you're lucky enough to have soaking wet hair when you "go down" as I did, your hair dries into a completely unique and unexpected style. 

An added bonus is that other people actually get to see you that way - many of whom have never seen you on a normal day - so this "look" is how they'll remember you. One more bonus? They also get to see you without makeup. Not many people have had that privilege (and have lived to tell about it).

2) The staff sends you home with a new designer tote bag.

I think I'll start carrying it everywhere. Could start a trend.

3) The best perk, however, was my trio of gorgeous new bracelets.

I can choose to wear them separately or in combination and can coordinate them with many different outfits. 

BTW, does anyone else find it amusing that I was determined a "fall risk" when I couldn't even turn over by myself - let alone get out of bed? Ha! 

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Lowdown on the Lumbar(s)

I was reclining here in the great room this afternoon reflecting on the crazy month we've had here in the Keweenaw. Things started out so well with our annual July 4th celebration in Copper Harbor. It started to go downhill after my oral surgery in Marquette on July 7th (as related in The Tale of the Tooth). As I was recovering from that surgery, my sweet darling husband (aka Mr. Cut Off) had a disc slip in the lumbar region of his back on the 12th - causing intense back and sciatic nerve pain.

He was mostly bedridden and trying to recuperate at home when I had an ER-level migraine strike late in the evening on the 14th.

Mr. Cut Off called my mom (retired nurse) to come help us out. She was a true blessing - got us through that weekend.

After resting his back at home for 4 full days, we were able to get Mr. Cut Off into town to see his doctor for a back injection and some steroidal medication on Monday, the 17th. As he was then a bit more ambulatory, I tried to talk Mom into going home the next day, but she said she didn't have peace about leaving yet. Good thing the Lord was speaking to her, because my lower back decided to go out suddenly the following day - Wednesday, the 19th. Yeah. My back this time. Out. Way out. What were the odds?

I can now say I've experienced a Keweenaw ambulance ride and a hospital stay.

I was discharged on Saturday. Steve is also still recuperating. Not running any races around here, but we're improving.

Mom is still with us for the time being - earning her wings!

We may live in the middle of nowhere, but we have nothing but good things to say about our local medical care. It's like the old days - a terrific small town hospital. You're an actual name - not a number. I'm not fibbing when I say that I never waited more than 30 seconds for someone to answer my call light at the hospital. The care was very patient-oriented and compassionate.

Seriously, I didn't have one single complaint - not about a doctor, a nurse, a CNA, housekeeping staff, PT, or even those working in food service. Every single person I encountered was excellent with a great attitude and work ethic. Very, very impressive. Yes, it's true they don't have a neurosurgeon on staff, but when I had the same problem down in the big city back in 2008, I was never referred to a neurosurgeon anyway. I could have chosen to be transported to either of 2 larger hospitals with a neurosurgeon a few hours away on Thursday, but my doctor and I decided to try something else for now. We'll see how my recovery goes, but a consult with a neurosurgeon is always an option on the table for the future.

Of course, if medical care was the same as it was back in 1900, Mr. Cut Off and I would both be completely cured by now. (Click on this old ad to make it larger to read.)

It. Never. Fails! Isn't that a riot?

In conclusion, we've obviously had some severe pain and a highly unusual month, but the Lord is faithful. He provided us with the help we needed and great medical care. His Word never fails, and His love and care for us has been evident each day. We praise Him and thank Him for keeping us in His care, and we appreciate the prayers said on our behalf by family, friends and fellow Christians far and near.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bear vs. Bird Feeders 2

I had intended to be back with this post on Saturday or Monday, but life got in the way. Mr. Cut Off's back went out on Wednesday and I came down with a severe migraine on Friday. Not. Good. Timing. My mom (retired nurse) came out to nurse us on Friday evening. In fact, she's still here. Guess she feels better being here than 17 miles away worrying about us. Well, I'm feeling much better, and Mr. Cut Off's doctor has now started him on the road to recovery - so on to our bear!

I told you about the bear who visited us on July 2nd. If you haven't read that post, click here to read it and watch the video. He completely destroyed 3 bird feeders, but he left the finch sock feeder alone. At the end of that week, he came back for a new bird feeder that Mr. Cut Off had accidentally left out overnight. Fortunately, Mr. Cut Off was able to salvage that feeder. We didn't have any feeders out for a couple of days after that, but our little hummingbirds kept doing flybys in front of our sliding doors. It's like they were saying, "What's up? Where are our feeders?" Well, that softened our hearts, and we decided to put 2 hummingbird feeders out during the day. All was fine until Thursday afternoon when the bear decided to return. He came out of that same spot in the woods.

He spotted that finch sock feeder he had passed up on his first and second visits.

Guess it looked enticing now. I can't imagine there was more than a teaspoon of thistle seed left in it.

Got it!

Check out the look on his face.

He looks like he's smiling!

One last shot before he ripped it right out of the tree!

I was able to scare him away after that with a little more window-banging and crazy person hand-waving, but I was concerned. I saw the bear lurking in the shadows of the woods for about 10 more minutes, and I knew those 2 hummingbird feeders were still outside - very close to our sliding doors. I really didn't want to lure that bear that close to the house - especially when Mr. Cut Off was bedridden with his lower back issue. Call me a coward, but I wasn't feeling quite brave enough that day to go outside and retrieve those 2 feeders without a wing man. So, Mr. Cut Off put in a call to buddy, Marty, for emergency hummingbird feeder retrieval service. Marty arrived in less than an hour and helped us out, and we haven't seen the bear since. 

Again, if you're keeping track, it's now:

Bear - 4
Bird Feeders - 1
Birdseed - 0

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Tale of the Tooth

I hope you all had a fantastic Independence Day! We sure did! We packed our bags and loaded up the golf cart. . .

and headed off on our annual trip to Copper Harbor. We love to celebrate the 4th with friends in that quaint little town on Lake Superior.

We use our golf cart in the parade and for tooling around town to visit all the shops. I'll share more about our 4th in another post, but one of the things I did in Copper Harbor this year was to take "good old #8" on its farewell tour.

What's "good old #8?"

My right front tooth!

Yep, #8 was scheduled for an extraction on July 7th, so I made sure to enjoy the final brat and the final hamburger I could sink it into. Why would it need to be pulled in this modern age of dentistry? Well, it was beyond repair. Let me explain.

The tale of the tooth begins back in the 70's when I was in high school. About a month after I got braces put on my teeth, I contracted a bad case of the stomach flu. I had a bad habit back then of not ingesting enough fluids when I had the flu. So, as I was walking across our family room headed back to the couch where I was spending the evening, I fainted. Out cold. Landed flat on my face - resulting in a beautiful fat lip and a broken metal band around tooth #8. Two other bands were out of place a bit, but not broken. A trip to the orthodontist was obviously necessary. My right front tooth was very loose, but he gently removed the band and put a new one in place - hoping the tooth would tighten back up in the socket. I had cracked the root in several places. He said the braces saved me from losing the tooth when I planted my face on the family room floor, but he also told me with certainty that the tooth would die one day. How long would it last? He didn't know.  

Years and years passed by, and nothing happened. It seemed like I had successfully dodged a bullet. Then - when I was around 40 - almost overnight - #8 decided to send me a signal by getting noticeably darker than its neighbors. An infection and root canal came next. Several more years passed before #8 decided to develop another infection. The chosen remedy at that time was to clip the root - making the root significantly shorter than it had been. We were just buying time. A dental implant was definitely in my future. That was approximately 10 years ago.

When I was brushing my teeth one day last month, I noticed that a teeny tiny pocket of infection had developed above good old #8. My local dentist took some x-rays. What looked teeny tiny was actually quite large. The good news was: Dead Tooth = No Pain! I now had 2 choices in how to deal with #8. (1) Make an appointment with a specialist in Marquette who could maybe - just maybe - buy me some more time with #8. (2) Make an appointment with a specialist in Marquette to do an extraction, a bone graft (because the bone had receded quite a bit), and a permanent dental implant. In other words, kiss good old #8 goodbye and walk around with a lovely gap for a while! Not a pleasant thought. (No Yooper jokes, please!)

I asked my dentist, "What would you do if it was your tooth?" He said, "The dental implant - without a doubt." The implant was the most expensive of the 2 options, but even IF a specialist could buy me more time with #8, he estimated it would be no more than 3 years. Of course, a bridge would be much cheaper, but who wants to grind away perfectly good teeth to hook the bridge to and hassle with cleaning that every time you eat something? I should add that dental insurance doesn't cover the cost of a dental implant - just the extraction. Cosmetic, they say. I went home and talked it over with Mr. Cut Off. He immediately pointed out that I wouldn't even be questioning which plan of action to take if I was talking about his tooth. My answer would be the dental implant. No discussion. It would have to be done. He was right, of course. That's exactly what I would say. So, I had the consultation in Marquette in June, and we scheduled the surgery for last Friday, July 7th.

We left home early enough to stop on our way for a late breakfast in L'Anse - one last meal - since I knew I'd be on liquids and soft foods for a while. If you're wondering why we had to go all the way to Marquette (about 2-3/4 hours away), it's because he's the only one in the U.P. who does dental implants. That's one drawback to living in the middle of nowhere. Anyway, I'm not a nervous patient, so I opted for a local instead of being put out. (Mr. Cut Off thought I was crazy.) The doctor assured me I would "hate" him for the 2 shots he was about to give me. I won't lie. The shots were bad, but I tend to compare everything to migraine headache pain which can sometimes last for days. Realizing the discomfort is only temporary helps. So, I didn't hate the doctor. He was very fast and very good - explaining what he was doing as he went along. He extracted the tooth, cleaned up the infection, inserted the bone graft material which had been mixed with a small amount of my blood, placed a membrane to hold it all in place, stitched me up, gave me some prescriptions and instructions, and sent me on my way.

About 15 minutes later, the numbness started to wear off - and BAM! It hit me! Severe migraine headache and throbbing neck pain. Waaay worse than the mouth pain I was experiencing - and that was no picnic. As a migraine sufferer, I expected to get a headache, but I was hoping I wouldn't. Not fun. Mr. Cut Off had to stop to buy me some water and a pillow. I took some OTC medication and tried stretching out in the back seat for a while. That didn't last long. Moved back to the front seat and reclined with the pillow and sunglasses. That worked better. Long. Ride. Home. Survived it, though!

It's now the 7th day post-op. I'm still swollen (even my nose), but it has improved in the last 2 days. I wish I could say I look like this.

but I look more like this.

She's like my identical twin! Ha!

After the swelling goes down, I'll look more like this:

Hey, gotta laugh at yourself, right?

Now, I just have to heal. I need to be especially careful these first few weeks to eat very soft foods - nothing hot - nothing carbonated. I'm already getting used to room temperature cream soups and cold coffee! The bone needs to get nice and solid before they insert the screw into it in the middle of January. Then, we'll wait maybe another 12 weeks, and the permanent tooth will be placed on the screw. Long process, but it will be permanent. I have an Essix retainer to wear in public until I get that permanent tooth. It looks like one of those clear teeth whitening trays - only with a tooth attached where mine is missing. Not exactly gorgeous - and I won't be able to eat when I'm wearing it - but we'll see what I think of it when I start using it. I have a feeling we won't be going out to eat very often. On the bright side, it should be a lot more difficult for me to accidentally bite my lip for the next 9 months! So, I'm housebound until the swelling goes down. Don't want to scare the public needlessly.

We've had a cold rain for the last 2 days, but the weather has been pretty great - a nice, cool summer.

I took a walk down the driveway the other day. Our thimbleberries are coming along, and it will soon be picking time.

Unfortunately, Mr. Cut Off put his lower back out on Wednesday, so he's housebound, too. That pain will usually keep him down for a week or so. Please pray for a speedy recovery for him.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bear vs. Bird Feeders

When we returned home from town on the afternoon of Sunday, July 2, I noticed a problem with our bird feeders. What was the problem? They were missing! Plus, the shepherd's hook that one of them had been hanging on was bent backward. Considering how securely the other 2 bird feeders had been attached to the tree, we were immediately able to deduce that a bear had visited us. The feeders were all in place when we left that morning, so we had a feeling we may have disturbed the bear when we arrived home. If so, we knew he would be back. Better charge the battery in the camera!

I began to put away the groceries while Mr. Cut Off was changing out of his church clothes. Suddenly, I heard Mr. Cut Off yell (very loudly and excitedly), "He's back! Get the camera!" I was so startled that I almost dropped the bananas! I certainly never expected the bear to return that quickly! Oh, foo! The camera was in the great room; the battery was charging in an outlet in the kitchen. I grabbed the battery and the camera and rushed to the bedroom. Foo again! Just missed him. He had also heard Mr. Cut Off yell. (I said it was loud.) Mr. Cut Off told me what I had missed. The bear had wandered back out of the woods to check for more birdseed on the ground. That's when Mr. Cut Off spotted him. When he yelled, the bear stood up on his hind legs in an attempt to determine the source of that loud noise he had just heard. He probably spotted Mr. Cut Off moving about through the bedroom window and made a hasty retreat into the woods. That's when I arrived in the room. 

Was the bear gone for good? We didn't think so. I returned to the kitchen to work on dinner - keeping the camera within reach at all times. Mr. Cut Off joined me a bit later to help cut up the avocado and egg for his salad. This is when all the glass on the back side of our house comes in real handy. I glanced up as I was setting the table and thought I saw a shadow over where the bear had been. Uh, that was no shadow. It's the bear! So exciting! I grabbed the camera and we ran back to the bedroom for a closer look. I started snapping pictures, but the bear didn't seem to mind.

Yeah, he was looking at me. Or is it a she? Beats me! All the windows were closed (if you're wondering).

I guess he decided I wasn't a threat, so he moved along - pawing at the ground to get every last bit of birdseed he could find.

He got up on his hind legs and checked out 2 of the birdhouses mounted on the trees. Unfortunately, I was fiddling with the video setting on the camera at the time and missed those shots. The birdseed must have made him thirsty, as he then stopped to get a drink out of the birdbath.

We have another birdhouse mounted on a post halfway across the backyard, and he wandered over to check that one out next. The sun was causing such a glare through the sliding doors in the great room that those photos didn't turn out. Oh well. He then started back toward the birdbath and I got some decent video of him checking out the last birdhouse we have mounted on a tree. Click on the following link to watch him in action:

Bear 7-2-17

Mr. Cut Off went out later to survey the damage and found the feeders in the woods in back of the rocks. The bear had completely destroyed the 3 tube feeders, but he left the finch sock feeder alone. Since moving out here, Mr. Cut Off has perfected his bird feeder repair skills, but these were way, way, way beyond repair. He picked up some new feeders the next day but was careful to bring them in at night. All was fine for a week until he accidentally (that's what he tells me) left one of them out one night. Yup, it was missing the next morning. Mr. Cut Off did find it, though, and was able to salvage it. The current plan of action is to leave the bird feeders down for a couple of weeks. The berries in the woods should ripen by then, so the bear should have more to eat without bothering us.

If you're keeping track, that's:
Bear - 3
Bird Feeders - 1
Birdseed - 0

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Land of Lincoln - Lincoln's Words

I've recently taken you along on our visit to Springfield, Illinois.
Old State Capitol Building

We saw Abraham Lincoln's tomb(s),

and his home,

and I appreciate the positive comments on those posts that I've received from some of you - through this blog and through email. I have a special fondness for Abraham Lincoln - maybe because he was President during the Civil War. Since I have ancestors who served in that war, I find that era especially interesting. I don't believe any other man could have served us so effectively at that time in history. 152 years have passed since his assassination, but Abraham Lincoln continues to appear at or near the top of every list of "best Presidents."

In his memoirs, General William T. Sherman wrote this of Abraham Lincoln:  "Of all the men I ever met, he seemed to possess more of the elements of greatness, combined with goodness, than any other." Isn't that a wonderful tribute?

Lincoln was truly a remarkable man - known for his compassion, his humor, and his eloquence. I remember reading somewhere that Lincoln never wasted words in his letters or in his speeches. So, before we leave the topic of Lincoln, I want to share the text of one of his speeches with you. This speech is one that is inscribed on a plaque in his permanent tomb. It's the farewell speech he gave at the depot in Springfield on February 11, 1861 - just as he was leaving for Washington, DC - about to assume the office of President of the United States - and knowing that our country was most certainly on the verge of civil war.

There are 3 known versions of this speech. It is believed that this version is the most accurate, as it was printed the following day in the Illinois State Journal, a Springfield newspaper.


Friends, no one who has never been placed in a like position, can understand my feelings at this hour, nor the oppressive sadness
I feel at this parting.
For more than a quarter of a century I have lived among you, and during
all that time I have received nothing but kindness at your hands. Here
I have lived from my youth until now I am an old man. Here the
most sacred ties of earth were assumed. Here all my children
were born; and here one of them lies buried.
To you, dear friends, I owe all that I have, all that I am. All the strange, checkered past seems to crowd now upon my mind. Today I leave you;
I go to assume a task more difficult than that which
devolved upon General Washington.
Unless the great God who assisted him, shall be with and aid me,
I must fail. But if the Omniscient Mind and the same Almighty Arm
that directed and protected him shall guide and support me, I shall not fail,
I shall succeed. Let us all pray that the God of our fathers may not forsake us now. To Him I commend you all. Permit me to ask that with equal security and faith, you all will invoke His wisdom and guidance for me.
With these few words I must leave you -- for how long I know not.
Friends, one and all, I must now bid you an affectionate farewell.


The Illinois State Journal noted, "It was a most impressive scene. We have known Mr. Lincoln for many years; we have heard him speak upon a hundred different occasions; but we never saw him so profoundly affected, nor did he ever utter an address, which seemed to us as full of simple and touching eloquence, so exactly adopted to the occasion, so worthy of the man and the hour. Although it was raining fast when he began to speak, every hat was lifted, and every head bent forward to catch the last words of the departing chief. When he said, with the earnestness of a sudden inspiration of feeling, that with God's help he should not fail, there was an uncontrollable burst of applause. At precisely eight o'clock, city time, the train moved off, bearing our honored townsman, our noble chief, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, to the scenes of his future labors, and, as we firmly believe, of his glorious triumph. God bless honest ABRAHAM LINCOLN!"


Abraham Lincoln never did return to Springfield - until his body made the trip aboard his funeral train in May of 1865.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunday Reflections

Psalm 33:12

All is well in the Keweenaw.